St. Patrick’s Day and the antics of putting green food coloring in just about everything have long since passed, so we now turn our focus onto another form of green — the eco-friendly kind. April 22 marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, and while many people will be going out to plant trees and working on their recycling efforts, you can do something a bit closer to home: choosing a floor that’s good for the environment. Every floor choice on the market has its own benefits and its drawbacks, but when you look into how these tips can benefit both you and the environment, you’ll be glad you chose to go “green.”
Currently, there is no all-encompassing standard on the market as to what makes a floor “green,” and there is still no product that has zero impact on the environment. There are a variety of third parties and organizations that can attest to the eco-friendly methods used in creating a floor and the components that make up a floor. All of those third party certifications will be prominently displayed or noted by a company when you peruse the eco-friendly options. But as there are so many floor choices — hardwood, engineered wood, laminate, carpet, luxury vinyl tile, luxury vinyl plank, ceramic, etc. — and all of which have different organizations to certify them, it may seem a bit daunting when you’re trying to choose something that is both stunning and environmentally friendly. We’ve come up with what we feel are some of the “green basics” for you to remember when looking at any floor option, but at the same time, are thinking about the environment.
Consider where the materials and the final product came from
As there is no product currently on the market that has zero impact on the environment, it is hard to be 100 percent environmentally conscious when looking for a new floor. But, you can look into where your floors, the materials and that final product came from and how eco-friendly they all are. Production and harvest techniques that have the lowest of the low impact on nature tend to receive “green” labels. Choosing products that have traveled less than 500 miles to reach your home or site can reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with the transportation (always a “green” plus, in our book!). Choosing materials and products that are from countries that have questionable environmental regulations is a no-no, which leads us to our next point …
Has it been certified?
While there is no broad-sweeping standard for certification currently, there are plenty of third parties and organizations that are trustworthy sources in ensuring floor options and flooring products are certified as environmentally friendly in specific areas. FloorScore, LEED, and the Forest Stewardship Council certification are all certifications done by different organizations to ensure floors and flooring products are beneficial to the environment. While each of these certifications tests different things (volatile organic compounds, building strategies and practices, and promoting responsible forest management, respectively), each are done independently and by groups who are knowledgeable in the subject matters to ensure that consumers truly are receiving a “green” product.
Avoid volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
If the product doesn’t have a FloorScore certification, this might be a question worth asking: Will there be any VOCs involved in the installation process? Some floor choices require grout, mortar, sealants, or adhesives be used during installation. If this is the case with your floor choice, request that your floor be installed with low- to no-VOC products. You’ll be protecting the quality of your indoor air and breathing in healthier air once everything is set in place. Isn’t that a sigh of relief?
Is it truly “green?”
Unfortunately, just because a company has labeled something as “green” or “eco-friendly” doesn’t necessarily mean it is 100 percent true. Some companies have jumped on this trend and have labeled their products or materials as such even if they aren’t actually “green.” Some companies will even create a sub-par flooring product just so they can receive that “green” label. Prevent yourself from purchasing these items. For a product or building material to be truly “green,” a company must be socially responsible and make use of processes that are not detrimental to the environment; meet standards for environmental friendliness, including packaging, distribution methods and transport; and its source must be renewable, the material itself must be recyclable, and must not contain toxic materials.
Before you rush out to the nearest CDC Distributor and browse the environmentally friendly flooring options, consider this: see if there is a way to improve upon the floors you currently have in your home or office space. Whether you can sand, refinish, deep clean, polish, or replace a few odds and ends rather than install an entirely new floor, take that route first. This way, you’ll have considerably less waste and won’t be using multiple resources to install unnecessary new floors. But when you do find the right time to install a “green” floor, finding one that is not only beautiful, but also has been certified by credible organizations, will not only be a wise investment by you, but is an investment that will be beneficial to the planet as well.