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Eco-Friendly Flooring


As our society has become more environmentally and socially responsible, green building practices have risen in popularity and in fact many construction standards are now in place.

There are many ways to make both residential and commercial spaces more eco-friendly, such as using low VOC paints, LED lighting and energy-efficient HVAC systems. Investing in sustainable flooring is another tool to improve the sustainability and value of your investment.

LSI flooring brings a long history of selling and marketing flooring, and we're especially committed to promoting sustainable and organic flooring materials to help educate the industry and consumers on all the benefits.

Check out LSI Flooring's President & CEO providing expert insights on eco-friendly home furnishings & floor covering products!

Why Does It Matter?

The floor covering dealer and contractor can no longer ignore the growing demand for green building. A recent study by the National Association of Home Builders found that 40% of builders find building green makes it easier to market in a down economy and 60% of builders claim homebuyers are willing to pay more for green homes. Moreover, 21% of home builders expect to be building 90% of projects green! The floor covering dealer who understands the green building standards and where flooring fits into those standards will be in a better position to take advantage of these new opportunites.

In addition, an increasing number of states and municipalities have mandates that new construction meet one of the rating systems. Mandates regarding green building standards have recently been implemented in Boston, New York, Dallas and Los Angeles. The requirements under these laws vary from city to city. For example, New York City's Green Building Law requires most city-owned and city funded buildings be LEED silver certified!

In addition, some states and local governments provide tax incentives for commercial or residential buildings that meet green standards. For example, New Mexico and New York offer a personal and business tax credit applicable to both commercial and residential buildings. Some city and state governments offer grants or loans to private developers that incorporate green design standards into new or existing commercial or residential buildings.

"Green" vs. "Greenwashing"

Greenwashing has become a key topic as it relates to environmental consciousness. There are many shades of green! In the content listed in this site we will try to be clear on what the actual environmental claims are and to be clear as to what level of eco-friendliness each is. We are also available to discuss with you this most important topic to create as much clarity as possible.

A recent article in Green Operations Magazine provided some great perspective... When specifiers or consumers choose environmentally friendly products for their projects, items like CFL light bulbs, windows, programmable thermostats, insulation, even shower heads often rank ahead of carpets. But flooring is contributing to green home building and earning LEED points in several ways!

While only buildings (not floors) can be LEED certified, flooring contributes in three LEED categories; Materials and Resources, Indoor Air Quality and Innovation and Design Process.

There has been a considerable amount of confusion regarding the U.S. Green Building Council and the LEED rating system. Some manufacturers state that a certain type of flooring is worth a certain amount of LEED points. This is, totally false. Based on the complex nature of how points are awarded it makes it impossible that one product can be worth a certain amount of points in and of itself.

LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. LEED accredited flooring experts recommend product choices that contribute to earning LEED points such as:

  1. Specifying green label or green label products, such as carpet and carpet backing made primarily from natural or recycled content.
  2. Specifying natural products, like cork flooring or carpets made of 100% wool.
  3. Using green-friendly installation techniques, such as green label adhesives that emit low or no VOCs.
  4. Recommending energy-efficient solutions.

LEED-NC and LEED-CI are two programs where flooring can play a role in earning LEED points. LEED-NC performance criteria apply to commercial and institutional buildings that are either new or undergoing major renovations. LEED-CI is a newer program designed to address the specifics of tenant spaces primarily in office and institutional buildings. LEED-NC version 22 includes updates to recycled content, new requirements on what constitutes regional materials, and an enhanced standard on low-emitting materials/carpet systems.

This indoor air quality credit covers low-emitting flooring systems. To qualify a product must comply with the California Special Environmental Requirements Specification 01350 for VOC emissions or be FloorScore-certified.

The indoor air quality credit covers low-emitting materials - composite wood and agrifiber products. In order to qualify for IEQ Credit 4.4 these products must contain no added urea formaldehyde levels of formaldehyde emissions but also qualifies product as to type of formaldehyde.

MR CREDITS 4.1 & 4.2
The Materials & Resources Credit covers recycled content such that the sum of post-consumer recycled content constitutes at least 10% of the total value of the materials in the project. Post consumer is defined as waste material generated by end users of a product, either households or commercial facilities, which can no longer be used for its intended purpose. Pre-consumer is defined as material diverted from the waste stream during the manufacturing process. MR 4.2 awards another credit for 20%.

MR CREDITS 5.1 & 5.2
The Materials & Resources credit covers regional materials, 10% extracted, processed and manufactured within 500 miles of the project site for a minimum of 10% percent of the total material value. The idea is to reduce the environmental impact resulting from transportation. MR 5.2 awards another credit for 20%.

The Materials & Resources credit covers rapidly renewable materials. Using rapidly renewable materials (made from plants that are typically harvested within 10-year cycle or shorter) reduces the depletion of raw materials. Under LEED-NC, one point may be obtained if 2.5% of the total value of all building materials is rapidly renewable. Examples include cork linoleum and bamboo. Under LEED-CI the minimum value is 5%.

The Materials & Resources credit is earned if a minimum 50% of wood-based materials is certified in accordance with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) guidelines, which encourage responsible forest management.

Our Nation's Sustainability Directive:

The Federal government spends approximately $500 billion a year on products and services. On October 5, 2009, President Obama issued Executive Order 13514, titled "Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance," through which he intends to use this immense purchasing power of the Federal government to achieve his administration's environmental goals. Any entity that specifies or sells products or services to the Federal government - such as those that specify or sell flooring to GSA, DOD and other federal agencies for use in military bases, VA hospitals, post offices, courthouses and other government buildings - should take note!

The Order directs federal agencies to monitor, report and reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and move toward environmental sustainability in other ways, such as reducing water consumption, promoting pollution prevention, eliminating waste and implementing sustainable federal building design, construction, operation and maintenance and deconstruction.

Perhaps the most far-reaching provision of the Order directs federal agencies to ensure that 95% of new government contracts are for products and services that are energy-efficient, water-efficient, bio-based, environmentally preferable, non-ozone depleting, contain recycled products and services that meet at least one of the listed criteria, provided such products and services are available.

How to shop for environmentally-friendly floor coverings

1. Select naturally renewable fibers, rather than synthetics

Wool, seagrass, jute, cork, and bamboo are all considered widely-available, readily renewable natural flooring materials.

When exploring our product catalog, make sure to select these fibers in your search criteria!

2. Pay attention to the entire carpet construction

In addition to the main fiber; make sure to check what kind of backing and glue has been used to construct the carpet. Cotton backing and natural latex glue is considered a premium standard.

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