Forest Products Certification Group  -  America's products from sustainable forests
Frequently Asked Questions
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Our potential group members have asked me many questions about being FSC ® certified through our groups. I have tried to answer as many as I could here. If you have other questions for me, please do not hesitate to call me at (603) 312-2065 or email me at robertleeedmonds@gmail.com.
 
It will be my pleasure to assist you in your quest be FSC certified.
 
 
What's new about this kind of certification?
 
It is now possible for companies with less than $5 million in gross wood sales to buy and sell FSC ® certified products and get on-site, hands-on assistance from experienced FSC auditors and pay a lower price.
 
Why is a lower price possible through group rates?
 
Because the certifying body will audit only a sample of the members, their costs are lower and we are able to certify the group at a rate that allows us to pass the savings on to members.
FSC ®changed its rules to allow companies such as yours to join with other companies in a group for cost savings.  It is possible for smaller companies that were priced out of the market to now afford FSC®certification. 
 
What is this about expert help included in the fee?
 
Our group's auditors must be at your site. We see it as a great opportunity.
We have the incentive to provide your company with what it takes to keep you in compliance with FSC®standards.

You will benefit from hands-on assistance by experienced Forest Products Certification Group, LLC auditors. This is because every member of the group is required to have an "internal audit" by the group. Instead of a hands-off independent audit where auditors cannot help you, an internal audit is performed to assist you through procedures, what to do next, "What do I need now" and other sticky problems.  
Certifying bodies are forbidden to help you, rightly so, because they cannot audit their own work. Auditors from the Forest Products Certification Group, LLC have the right and the obligation to help you. It's part of our service.
 
For example, if your company presently has no written FSC ® procedures or other required documents developed for your company, our auditors can write your required documents that meet FSC ® standards. We will make sure that you have a thorough understanding of the procedures and your responsibilities.
 
I have been on the front lines as a wood products production manager. I know what it's like to have new forms thrust upon me to comply with some new rules, all while I'm supervising employees, getting product out the door, keeping people safe and dealing with the thousand other things that confront managers every day. As an FSC ® certification auditor, I've watched as others go through the same thing. Our group has been formed to take the sting out of small companies that want FSC ®certification.
 
How do I show that I am FSC certified?
 
The FSC web site info.fsc.org is the official registry for who currently holds a valid certificate.  This is the web site that you and your customers use to verify that a supplier is certified. The information is up-to-the-minute. Your company will be listed on this web site under its own name and once again as under the group’s listing as soon as you join the group.
 
The web site, not a paper certificate, is the proof that a company is certified. This is similar to your Workers’ Compensation and other insurance, which also does not rely on a paper certificate because it may not be current when it is received.  
 
Am I fully certified by joining the Forest Products Certification Group © Renewable Resources Certification Group © or the Ever Green Certification Group©?
 
Yes. The Forest Products Certification Group, LLC will hold the certificate for all members in the group. You will be listed under your company's name on the FSC web site, the official FSC registry for who holds a valid certificate.  You will have a unique FSC certification code for  you company.
 
    As a member in good standing your company can
 
        enjoy all the privileges of certification.
        can use FSC and logos and trademarks.
        can FSC certify your products to your customers. 
        can use FSC certification in your sales promotion.
 
 
What is the cost for me to have the privileges of FSC Certification?
 
No surprises allowed! All fees will be quoted in writing and approved by you in advance of your commitment, our commitment to you and before any fees are paid.
We expect that you will save between $600 and $2,000 each year over being individually certified. Check it out to be sure.
 
Are there any extra costs?
 
No. Your quote will be in writing. No hidden cost. Guaranteed. You can be certain of what you are going to pay through the contract period that you sign up for. No guessing.
 
What about costs for auditors travel to my location?

These costs are included in the annual fee. You will not be charged extra. Travel is the group's responsibility, not yours.
 
Will my annual fee ever change?
 
Please see the page, "Our Pledge" on this web site.
 
Is there a cost charged to me for the group to set up our documents and provide initial training for our staff?
 
No. All this is included in the annual fee. There are no extra charges to you, even if you are being certified for the first time and it requires our work to set you up with FSC ® procedures and other needed documentation.
 
Does the group track changes in FSC rules so I won't have to?
 
Yes.
 
Are there different rates based on the size of the company?
No. 

Size is not a factor in pricing. All companies in the group are to have under $5 million on gross wood sales annually.
 
How do I calculate my "Annual gross wood sales"?
 
Include only wood sales. That means you should not include hardware, glass, laminates, design services or other non-forest components. Printing companies should include the paper products they sell, but exclude non-paper products. Make a reasonable estimate of what your wood sales will be for the period for which you wish to be certified. (Please note that we only deal with dollars when it relates to if your company has annual gross wood sales less than $5 million. We do not audit your financial information.)
 
What if my wood-related sales are already above $5 million?
 
If your company enjoys gross forest products sales in excess of $5 million, you do not qualify for group certification under FSC ® rules. You have some good options. The Forest Products Certification Group, LLC, will assist you in securing a certifying body that can meet your needs.
 
 
What if my sales for wood products exceed the $5 million limit after I join the group?
 
No need to panic. You have two years to do something. It may have been an unusual year and your sales may return to under the $5 million limit. If your sales remain above the FSC ® limit, you have a year to arrange to be certified on a single certificate, not in a group. The Forest Products Certification Group, LLC will be able to assist you in locating an appropriate certifying body. Your already prepared documents from being in the group will be an advantage to you as you set up for a new certifying body.
 
If my company is certified through the group and has no sales this year, will I get a refund or be charged less for the following year?
 
No. Your annual fee remains just as we have agreed upon.  
It may not be necessary for you to have an on-site audit in a year that you had no FSC ® purchases or FSC ® sales.  On-site audits may possibly be waived for up to two years if you have had no FSC ® activity. In those circumstances, everything necessary may be handled by phone, email and a documentation that you verify that you had no FSC ® activity (buying or selling FSC ® products).
 
Since we don't charge you extra for travel expenses, we don't have anything to take off your annual fee if we are not at your location.
 
While you have been certified through the group, your company has enjoyed the benefit of using FSC ® certification to bring potential customers to your door. Your resulting sales may have included certified or non-certified products. FSC ® certified sales are not the only benefit of being certified. Our group provides the opportunity for you to use FSC ® certification to enhance your business in several ways, but it is no guarantee of certified sales.
 
Will my company's name show on the official FSC ® website or will it just be the group's name?
 
Your company name will show on the FSC web site, info.fsc.org. This is the official repository where your customers can check to see if you are currently certified. They will find your business there by company name.
The group's name can also be found on this web site, with a roster including your company's name.
 
If one of the group member messes up, does it put the whole group at risk?
 
No.
Each group member is subject to an internal audit every year. Major or minor "Corrective Action Requests" (CARs) are given to a company where changes need to be made to be in compliance. The group will assist companies to the extent possible to make these changes. In the event that the company does not make the required changes and remains out of compliance, the individual company will be terminated from the group and the rest of the group is intact.

Also, each group member may or may not be selected in a sample audit by our certifying body, SCS Global Services (SCS). If selected and if CARs are given, the situation is the same as noted above for the group's response resulting from an internal audit.
It is the integrity of the group and its members that is the priority.
 
What are the Guarantees?
 
The Forest Products Certification Group offers the group structure and the opportunity to join with other companies in a group certification system.

The Forest Products Certification Group © and the Renewable Resources Certification Group © are not certifying bodies. As such, it can provide no guarantees that each company will remain in good standing. Each member must provide all the documentation, follow all the FSC ®, SCS Global Services and the group rules, including passing all audits and making required corrections and required payments when noted. The Forest Products Certification Group and the Renewable Resources Certification Group © can only provide the opportunity to forest products using companies to be a part of the group. It is the responsibility of the member to do what is required for FSC ® certification.

The Forest Products Certification Group, LLC offers no refunds if a company is terminated from the group for lack of meeting the requirements, failure to comply with standards, failure to pay when due, failure of an internal or certifying body audit, damage to the reputation of FSC ® or those associated with the group, going out of business or other reason. The fee charged by the Forest Products Certification Group, LLC is for the opportunity. The rest is up to each member company.
It is in the interest of the Forest Products Certification Group © and its Renewable Resources Certification Group © and their members that the Forest Products Certification Group, LLC provides all the help that it can so that each member can make informed choices about meeting the standards. That is the commitment of the Forest Products Certification Group.
 
What is "Controlled Wood"
 
This section does not affect most of our group members. However, a small number of our group members purchase wood from non-FSC ® certified sources which is mixed into their products. This is called “Controlled Wood”.  If you are buying FSC material from a FSC ® supplier who does not specify that controlled wood is included, you need not be concerned about controlled wood. We can help you if you have questions.
 
The Forest Products Certification Group, LLC accepts companies wishing to buy and sell FSC ® Controlled Wood. The group will work with you to identify your needs and put together a practical program to meet those needs.  There are additional costs involved with controlled wood certification.
 
Primary wood manufacturers, such as sawmills, veneer manufacturers, paper and panel manufacturers and others who use round wood, wood chips and other raw materials from the forest may choose to include “Controlled wood” as a source for products.
 
The FSC Controlled Wood Standard aims to avoid the mixing of wood from ‘unacceptable’ sources with FSC certified material during the production of FSC®  Mix products.
 
Companies using controlled wood must carry out a risk assessment to identify the risk that their uncertified wood may come from these unacceptable sources. This risk assessment must be independently verified as part of the Chain of Custody certification.
 
Our certifying body charges our group additional fees for its members who buy and sell controlled wood.  This is because their audits of the group and its members are more involved than the ordinary chain of custody audits. Our group passes these charges onto the group member who buys and sells controlled wood.  If you purchase controlled wood raw materials, you will also incur expenses for having a risk assessment completed.  The Forest Products Certification Group, LLC can connect you with a highly qualified auditor who will be able to do a risk assessment for your company for a fee. Our group does not receive any revenue from your arrangement relating to risk assessment services. If your company buys and sells only secondary wood products which include controlled wood, you will not need a risk assessment.
 
Before you agree to become a member of our group as a Controlled Wood buyer and seller, you will know exactly what your annual fee will be, with no hidden costs, and what your obligations will be. 
 
Using FSC Certified Wood for LEED Projects
 
 A Quick Summary
 
Six tips to understand using FSC certified wood for LEED projects have been provided by Sarah Ward's article, which appeared on LinkedIn January 3,2014.This was written to assist those who will use wood in their LEED projects.
 
In LEED, the Certified Wood credit is one of the most straightforward. Simply put, based on cost, at least half of the wood used in your project needs to be FSC ® Chain of Custody (CoC) Certified. For projects that aren’t relying on an overabundance of wood, the requirements for achieving this credit aren't overwhelming. If anything, the most difficult part of credit achievement is merely fulfilling the necessary administrative requirements.
 
To keep it simple, here are a few straightforward tips to keep in mind during the documentation process:
 
1)FSC Wood Suppliers Might Not Be CoC Certified: While it is possible to purchase FSC ® Wood from sources that are not CoC certified, always ensure that your producer is CoC certified via this search tool before orders are made.
 
2)Vendor Invoice Requirements: All new wood products have to be identified on a line item basis, showing the cost of each individual item, unless the purchase is extremely large in which case aggregate values may be acceptable. Either way, there must be explicit identification of the FSC ® -certified products as well as the vendor’s CoC number.
 
3)CoC is Needed When the FSC ® Wood is Procured: If you purchase wood from a supplier who is in the process of being CoC certified, the wood procured will not be applicable for this credit. Your source must be CoC certified at the time of purchase!
 
4)Controlled Wood is Inapplicable: FSC Controlled Wood is non-FSC certified material (or wood sourced from areas of unspecific risk) that is incorporated into FSC Mix products. While Controlled Wood may be incorporated into FSC Mix, its use in stand-alone form is ineligible for LEED credit purposes.
 
5)Multiple Project Purchases Count Only Once: If wood purchases are made for temporary purposes on multiple projects, they may only be incorporated into the calculations of one project. Which project they are incorporated into is up to you, but keep in mind, too, that all temporary wood purchases for that project will need to be included.
 
6)Installers Needn’t Be CoC Certified: Unless the installer of the wood is also the manufacturer or vender, they do not need to be CoC certified.
 
Keeping these few suggestions front of mind could be all the difference in satisfying the MRc6 without agonizing through unnecessary paperwork difficulties.
 
 
© Forest Products Certification Group, LLC 2011
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