USGBC Under Fire

This isn’t new news by any means to those who follow the ongoing debate, but in October 2010 a class-action lawsuit was filed against the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.  The class-action lawsuit, filed by Henry Gifford, public critic of LEED (you may have read his Op-Eds in the New York Times), will most likely not be able to keep its “class-action” status, but it is most welcomed by me and many other hoping that this suit makes sure that the USGBC continues to be an honest organization and doesn’t alienate builders, developers, designers, architects, and building product manufacturers who choose not to pay the outrageous costs associated with have a development or building certified LEED.

Here is an excerpt from the court documents.  I really like how this is worded and to me it makes a ton of sense:

“What is needed is for any rating or certification program to focus on the integrated design, construction and occupancy phases more holistically, taking into account post-occupancy performance and verification that the energy-efficient and sustainable design and construction strategies are successful,” says Kerry Haglund, a senior research fellow with the University of Minnesota, Center for Sustainable Building Research. “The Minnesota Sustainable Building Guidelines is such a program that leads to a full accounting of the actual costs and benefits of sustainable building design and energy efficient strategies. The quick development of the LEED programs has resulted in a lot of good design and construction practices, and more importantly, awareness in the area of sustainability and at some point USGBC will probably integrate required post-occupancy performance metrics into its rating systems, which will be a natural progression of its ever-developing guidelines.”


Here is a NPR audio piece from “All Things Considered” that will fill you in on the whole debate: All Things Considered


To Market “Ozoloc Etchings” Resilient Flooring

The Cohen, Miskei, & Mowery, LLP project was completed in 2010 and designed by Environetics here in Los Angeles.  Environetics is a great supporter of mine and and an incredible firm.  They specified To Market Ozoloc Etchings 62654 resilient flooring for the employee break area.  As you can see the flooring is really unique an quite attractive.  Ozoloc is a free floating flooring system that requires no troweling of Adhesive and loose lays right over the substrate or old flooring previously installed.  Ozoloc is FloorScore Certified for low VOC and requires no adhesive so it is great for indoor air quality and can be installed very easily in an occupied space without disturbing the occupants.

Hardwood Floors E-News: Dec. 6, 2010

By HWF Editors
December 2010

Preliminary Investigation Affirms Chinese Dumping Allegations

On Friday the U.S. International Trade Commission issued a unanimous affirmative determination in its preliminary investigation into allegations of dumping of engineered flooring by Chinese manufacturers. The commission, an independent federal agency, determined that there is “a reasonable indication that a U.S. industry is materially injured by reason of imports of multilayered wood flooring from China that are allegedly subsidized and sold in the United States at less than fair value.”

As a result of the vote, the U.S. Department of Commerce will conduct a detailed investigation into the pricing practices of Chinese engineered wood flooring manufacturers and exporters, as well as subsidies provided to those companies. Its preliminary countervailing duty determination is due on or about Jan. 14, 2011, and its preliminary antidumping duty determination is due on or about March 30, 2011.

“The fact that today’s vote was unanimous, we believe, is a reflection of the weight of the extensive evidence reviewed by the commission, and the seriousness with which the agency viewed the concerns detailed by the domestic industry,” said Jeff Levin, counsel for the Coalition for American Hardwood Parity, which filed a petition for the investigation in late October. The coalition consists of Anderson Hardwood Floors LLC, Award Hardwood Floors, Baker’s Creek Wood Floors Inc., From the Forest, Howell Hardwood Flooring, Mannington Mills Inc., Nydree Flooring, Forest, and Shaw Industries Group Inc.

Copies of the report from the ITC are expected to be available after Jan. 3, 2011, by e-mailing, calling 202/205-2000, or writing to the Office of the Secretary, 500 E St. S.W., Washington, DC 20436. Requests may also be faxed to 202/205-2104. The press release from the ITC is available here.

Commerce Dept. Opens Probe of Chinese Flooring

The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) on Nov. 10 initiated antidumping duty and countervailing duty investigations of engineered wood flooring exported from China and imported to the U.S., according to a department release.

On Oct. 21 the Coalition for American Hardwood Parity (CAHP), an ad hoc group of U.S. engineered wood flooring manufacturers, petitioned the Commerce Department to initiate the investigation. The group alleges that companies that manufacture engineered wood flooring in China dumped products in the U.S. at margins of 194.49 to 280.6 percent. (See the related story involving Armstrong World Industries’ potential adverse effects from the investigation.) This “dumping margin” is the amount by which a product’s normal market value exceeds the export price. Citing a study by Catalina Research Inc.(Boca Raton, Fla.), DOC said imports of engineered wood flooring from China increased 76 percent by quantity from 2007 to 2009. In 2009, imports of multilayered wood flooring were valued at an estimated $119.7 million.

An antidumping investigation hinges on determining whether an imported product is being sold by a foreign manufacturer into the U.S. market at less than fair value; a countervailing duty investigation determines whether a foreign manufacturer is gaining an unfair competitive advantage through government subsidies. Both DOC and the U.S. International Trade Commission(ITC) play roles in the investigations. ITC expects to make preliminary determinations on both investigations around Dec. 6. If ITC finds no reason to carry on the investigation during this preliminary determination, the investigations will be terminated.

Import Duties Could Affect Armstrong’s Stock Price

Armstrong World Industries (Lancaster, Pa.) has told investors that it could be subject to “material” import duties—significant costs that could affect its stock price—if an adverse ruling is reached by federal investigators in a probe of unfair trade allegations directed at engineered flooring manufacturers in China.

Armstrong owns an engineered flooring manufacturing plant in China, and it also imports engineered flooring to the U.S. from suppliers in China. The company disclosed the risk in its latest 10-Q filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Armstrong tells its investors that under U.S. law, “a U.S. importer may be responsible for the payment of any antidumping and countervailing duties.” The Coalition for American Hardwood Parity (CAHP), a group of U.S. manufacturers of engineered wood flooring, filed petition with the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) and the International Trade Commission (ITC) on Oct. 21 seeking the duties.

“The Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission have only just commenced their investigations,” according to the filing, “and the outcome of the cases are uncertain. As a result, at this time we cannot say whether an adverse ruling is probable or estimable.”

Wood flooring manufacturers in CAHP include: Anderson Hardwood Floors (Clinton, S.C), Award Hardwood Floors LLP(Wausau, Wis.), Baker’s Creek (Jackson, Miss.), From the Forest LLC (Weston, Wis.), Howell Hardwood Flooring(Dothan, Ala.), Mannington Wood Floors (Salem, N.J.), Nydree Flooring (Forest, Va.) and Shaw Industries Inc. (Dalton, Ga.).

Illegal Wood from China

PRI’s “The World” Broadcast: Click to open up audio: Wood from China (Audio)

Earlier today I was listening to PRI’s “The World” on the radio and there was a great piece on illegally cut timber that has been making its way into the US via Chinese manufacturers of wood flooring and other timber/wood products.  Keep in mind that most wood coming out of China might be inexpensive, but you get what you pay for.  Wood that is illegally harvested from all over the world, like Guinea, is imported into China with false documentation and then that wood is milled into all sorts of products and then these products are sold into markets like the US and Europe.

When you are specifying wood flooring make sure that the manufacturer is not sourcing their product from China, because you could be contributing to environmental misconduct.  Don’t be fooled by companies such as Margaritelli that produce most of their material in China.  They are still manufacturing some of their products in Italy, but their Italian flooring super expensive and can’t compete on quality or price against Stile

Stile is as Italian as it gets and absolutely none of our finished products come from China or contain illegally harvested timber!!  See below for all of the Stile certifications…









Stile News November 2010

Stile News November 2010



I’m proud to say that today RJW International has launched it’s new website,  This blog will play an integral role in my communication between my clients and vendors.  Continue to check back for updates on To Market, Stile, and Okite materials.  For me, it’s been a wonderful journey thus far and I look forward to 2011 and what it has to offer all of us in the industry.  Happy Holidays and a happy New Year to you all!!


-Russell Walker