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Sustainable flooring and Life cycle analysis (LCA)

By Kevin G on January 29, 2014

The production and usage of flooring materials have an impact on the environment.

There are several worldwide initiatives addressing the issue of sustainable flooring.

Life cycle analysis (LCA) of the manufacturing and building procedures clearly show that for instance, the use of solid wood, linoleum and cork have far less impact on the environment than other flooring materials. Cork, rubber, resilient, ceramic, bio based, bamboo or concrete are all types of sustainable flooring.

Types of loose-laid floor covering material that provide a walking surface include vinyl or linoleum flooring, area rugs and carpet. There are lots of other flooring materials such as stone, terrazzo, ceramic tile, wood and chemical floor coatings.

Many communities depend upon renewable resources and sustainable flooring helps to secure the future of the producers of these resources. Additionally, sustainable flooring leads to healthier and safer buildings. With regards to flooring options and life cycle assessment-based information, The Building for Energy and Environmental Sustainability (BEES) program of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are a great source of knowledge. For example, Bio-based flooring products have been proven to have lower environmental impacts than other types of flooring.

Leading floor companies such as Centiva, Tarkett, and Tandus enforce and provide the means for life-cycle analysis (LCA) and are continually developing their products, the use of these and their general operations with environmental impact in mind. Tandus, Partnered with Cargill were the first flooring companies to utilise bio based polyol cushion backing for broadloom carpet.

Carpets can be sustainable through the use of natural fibres such as sisal, jute, coconut husk, wool and cotton. Also, surprisingly, recycled polyethylene terephthalate which is used for drink and food containers can be used to make carpet. Many Rugs, often referred to as Area Rugs as unlike carpet they cover part of a floor room space, are handmade from jute, cotton chennile, rayon and cotton (both recycled and virgin) and comprise of a varied range of sustainable flooring materials.

In comparison composite marble and wool carpeting according to The Building for Energy and Environmental Sustainability (BEES) program of The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) appear to show the most environmental impact.

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