FSC lumber - estimating cost delta

I have a project with a client that is sustainably minded but with a limited budget. We would like to use FSC lumber on the project but I need to have some understanding of the cost impact of specifying FSC lumber. I’m sure there are resources and best practices out there but I’m feeling a bit at sea as I know there are many moving pieces to evaluating the purchase cost of lumber. Is it best to just call the local lumber yard to ask for prices? Thanks in advance.

Hi Catherine,

The FSC premiums vary greatly depending on wood product, species, grade, dimension, etc. The lumber industry in general seems to be volatile right now as well, the general costs of even non-FSC lumber has been trending upwards due to recent demand, forest fires, and Covid. Depending on what types of wood products you’re looking at, I think reaching out to your supplier/vendor is the best option. I’ve seen everywhere from a 0% FSC premium for specialty products, all the way up to a 35%-40% premium for commodity 2x material.

FSC also has a handy wood supplier finder: https://sourcing.climatesmartwood.org/


Much appreciated. Thank you Mark!

@Catherine: one strategy for increasing FSC use is to get get a lined out bid for your wood package from a typical supplier. Then send that bid to an FSC supplier, asking them for a bit that secures as much FSC within a given premium (for example 10%, if you are willing to pay a bit more). I did this recently on a new home project, and was able to secure timbers, CLT, car decking (roofing) as FSC. Plus I could get cabinets and flooring without much premium at all. So in the end, all the finished wood was FSC. On dimensional, I used Vaagen - not FSC but still decent restoration forestry.

Hello Catherine,

There are FSC options that are low-hanging fruit that will cost 0-5% more, options that cost 5-20% more depending on vendor, and options that are very hard to source as FSC in particular regions. Finding project partners that have familiarity with FSC sourcing is very helpful if you have choices between sub-contractors to use for your project.

The database Mark Chen shared is a good resource. A significant amount of work is going into making sure FSC suppliers are on that database and able to update their profiles from the backend directly. You can sort out who holds inventory vs who is a custom order vendor.

Ultimately, it is helpful to design with FSC sourcing options in mind. For example, if you design with white fir dimensional lumber Collin’s Company sells a great FSC certified product in the PNW. Retailers and Distributors like Sustainable Northwest Wood and Elk Creek Forest Products are helpful if you are in this region. There are other good suppliers out there that can deliver at reasonable price points.

For perspective here is a case study that was done in partnership with firms in Oregon and Washington for the Meyer Memorial Trust HQ last year. MMT HQ Case Study

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