Green Schools Make Cents

Almost one quarter of America goes to school every day. Unfortunately way too many of these students and teachers attend schools that are inefficient do not foster learning in the best environment possible and are exposed to unnecessary health risks. These schools are also often wasteful of our resources and miss obvious opportunities to reduce operational costs. Fortunately now, both public and private schools are realizing that going green is a no-brainer.

Going green can often easily reduce $100,000 per year in operational costs. While that doesn’t always sound like that much in comparison to our total school budgets, think of that savings in terms of a couple new teachers salaries, thousands of additional textbooks and hundreds of new computers for that school. That is worth striving for and a great reason to go green. By promoting the greening of all schools, not only can we make a tremendous impact on the environment but we can also improve teacher retention, student health, and test scores while reducing school operational costs. So what are the key areas we should focus on?

Every child deserves to go to a school with healthy air to breathe and conditions that encourage learning. Green schools are healthy for kids and conducive to their education. Four key areas that these schools focus on include daylight, indoor air quality, acoustics and thermal comfort. Green schools encourage daylight and outside views since studies show that daylight improves student performance. It also keeps teachers healthy and happy and that reduces teacher absenteeism and teacher turnover which amounts to huge savings over the lifetime of a school.

Green schools also strive for better indoor air quality because we know that improves health. Building green means better acoustics because it improves learning potential and poor acoustics have been shown to negatively impact both the teacher and the student. Good acoustics in classrooms ensure that teachers can be heard without straining their voices. Finally, comfortable indoor temperatures have shown to increase all building occupant satisfaction but if done correctly, building methods can also reduce energy usage while improving thermal comfort. Our nation’s students and teachers deserve healthy and effective spaces for learning and teaching. You can make a difference by letting elected officials know our schools should be built, operated, and maintained green.


Do Schools Need A Flooring Education?

Many schools are doing away with carpet in classrooms and at first glance the reasons seem to make sense. Right up until you take a look at the thousands of tennis balls teachers, administrators and facility people place on the bottoms of chairs to stop the scratching of hard surface and reduce chair noise. If you look a little closer to that tennis ball that will never see Wimbledon, you will find a pile of dust highlighting the filthy allergens that we force our kids to live with while they sit on the cold hard floors trying focus on what their teachers are saying. This becomes even harder to understand when you see the carpet samples and area rugs that schools buy to make the learning environment better for children after they suffer through the hard floors for a while. Does this make sense to anybody?

To be fair, poor carpet can be hard to keep clean and some say it might cause mold and mildew and that cannot be good. Well actually, carpet does not cause mildew. Moisture and certain temperatures allow mold and fungi to form but let us not confuse the discussion with facts. Let’s just assume that carpet causes mold and we do not want our kids exposed to biological hazards. But before we throw the carpet out with the mold, everyone should understand that carpet offers greater acoustics for a better learning environment, better thermal characteristics for a more comfortable place to learn as well as the elimination of the need for those ugly dirty tennis balls.

Now that we have that temporarily settled and we throw out the carpet then what do we do? What schools tend to do is go to the cheapest alternative flooring which is VCT or vinyl composition tile. This choice always overlooks the fact that VCT actually increases dust particulates and can worsen indoor air quality for our children. The hard surface also causes increased noise levels, increased glare, increased energy costs, a less comfortable learning environment for teaching and yes, the need for more tennis balls on the bottom of chair legs. What makes this choice even worse is that the cost to operate and maintain VCT over a 10-year period dwarfs alternate cleaning methods for other resilient hybrid soft surfaces adding to the ever increasing costs to run a school district. Wait, “resilient hybrid products?’ Yes, these products are not hard surfaces and are not carpets but rather they are alternative flooring products that provide the benefits of soft surface along with the durability of hard surface while being fully recyclable.

To start your education on school flooring do a Google search on VCTT and investigate hybrid resilient flooring products. Since hybrids are the combination of technologies designed to produce a better solution to a problem, much like hybrid cars, this might be a great place for schools to learn about new flooring alternatives for a better learning environment for students.


Recession Slows Wind

I felt following up on my last post was important when I read, “Recession Slows Wind,” in USA Today last week. Despite $950,000,000 in cash from stimulus money being pumped in to help it seems many power-producing projects are being put on hold because of the slowing economy. It is doubtful wind power growth will even reach 2008 levels according to industry data and before the crash hit 2009 was supposed to be a growth year for alternative wind energy. This fact begs the question, is wind power the engine that drives sustainable alternative energy or is the economy the engine that drives wind power?

Wind farms are a great form of alterative energy that needs to continue to grow and be explored since only 1.25% of all U.S. electricity generation comes from wind power but how will we ever get to 5% unless we have the economic engine running and healthy? Mega watts from wind need mega bucks and a flourishing market with confident lenders and healthy businesses generate those dollars needed. The top five states for wind power include Texas, Iowa, California, Minnesota, and Oregon and in states like California where the economy and deficits are in worse shape than in many other states it appears even with new legislation the thing that can really help renewable energy will be a renewed economy.

Sustainable Sustainability

Recently I read an article with the headline, “Loss of grants squelches conservation efforts.” The article described how the Governor of North Carolina was taking $100,000,000 from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund to help solve the state budget shortfall. This type of thing is happening all across America and highlights a few key realities about sustainability; the economy must be flourishing for environmental initiatives to flourish and to be truly sustainable our efforts should not have to be capital intensive.

No matter how much people want the world to be more sustainable, we won’t do it at the expense of feeding our families, taking care of our children and making sure we have a healthy place to live. People and businesses become very philanthropic when there is extra money available and everyone is cared for but when companies, institutions and governments are slashing jobs, cutting benefits and eliminating opportunities the extra money for the environmental movement often goes straight to the landfill. This means that we must do two key things to make the sustainability movement more sustainable.

First, we must not hurt business and individuals with our green goals. If taxes on people and businesses for environmental products and initiatives become too heavy it will choke the engine of prosperity and growth and it will eventually hurt the cause. Sustainable initiatives should help companies reduce cost, reuse materials and improve profits, not take them away. Offering tax credits and exemptions for individuals and companies that take steps to help our environment in sustainable ways will become an engine for growth and green. This would be a positive idea and not a punitive one.

Second, we should find ways to teach corporations and individuals to implement sustainable initiatives in their homes and companies that are not capital intensive. Organizations like USGBC should look at significant ways to reduce costs to become LEED certified so companies can do the right thing without paying huge fees. Many large corporations are not becoming LEED certified because of the costs, yet they are trying to do the same things that those who spend the money for certifications. This should not be looked down upon but rather we should find more ways to help everyone do the right thing at a lower cost and even for free for certain types of companies. This would help more companies implement environmentally sustainable practices sooner rather than later.

The bottom line is the bottom line. Some might call it a focus on the 3 P’s; People, profit and planet. Some call it sustainable sustainability. Either way, it is evident that the money green helps the environmental green flourish.


Is Blogging Sustainable?

I have been out of touch on blogging for a while for a few reasons; first I think my computer caught the Swine Flu. And no, I won’t call it H1N1 or (Hi-knee) as my friends call it. My computer caught a pig virus and had to have its colon cleansed or whatever it is my geeks did to it to make it run again. Second, I was doing some green research and in the process I came up with the third and main reason I did not blog for a while. Blogging might be unsustainable. I don’t mean that a human being can’t post blogs daily and sustain that I mean quality blogging is unsustainable. It might even cause “babble waste” to increase across the globe and what earth loving environmentalist really wants that to happen.

Think about it for a minute. Isn’t blogging just another word for babbling? Have you ever listened to a 3 year old talk when they really just want to hear themselves talk and then words come of their mouths out but they don’t really mean that much? I have. They just keep spewing babble to hear themselves pronounce words but they repeat themselves over and over and then the words become like language just flowing over you. I think that is what is happening in the blogging, or babbling world. People just like to hear themselves speak (or in this case, watch themselves write). Ask yourself; do we really need to hear from anyone on a daily basis about anything? I know reduce, reuse and recycle is a great way to think when it comes to green products but when bloggists and babbler's do it in blogs it just wastes our time. So maybe bloggers might want to focus on the "reduce" part of the mantra.

Henry David Thoreau said it best when he said, “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” So I’m thinking that reading babble every day is just a waste of time and as a sustainability blogger I think we should cut out ALL waste. As I was doing some LEED and other in-depth study on environmental issues I started wondering if I could blog, or babble, every day about sustainability in floorcovering and have something of real value to say. Then I wondered if any person or expert could and the answer became very clear to me. No. Nobody can provide meaningful and quality babble daily and if you fall into the trap of just reading babble daily you will clutter your life with babble and waste your valuable life away.

So my conclusion is this; it is not sustainable for any individual to provide daily insight on anything of real value. The only way to babble daily is if you just babble and who needs that in their lives. Stop the waste! Cut the babble! Be more sustainable as a blogger. I have decided that I will put more valuable content on my blog for access and as a resource when it is needed. I will try to not babble just to hear myself babble and will commit to thinking before just writing and will endeavor to provide more valuable and helpful information on my blog. And I commit that if I am just babbling I’ll let you know.


Every Day is Earth Day - Top 5 Daily Green Tips

Today is earth day and it occurs to me that every day should be earth day. We all love clean water, pollutant free air, and a healthy mother earth. It really doesn't matter your economic status, your political belief, or your occupation, we all love a clean environment and want healthy living for our children and our children's children. The earth is a brilliantly designed and amazing planet that does an incredible job of taking care of itself but there are some simple and practical ways that we can help to limit our footprint on our great planet as well.

Here are 5 simple things that we all can control ourselves and do every day to help keep our world clean and green.

1. Reduce Energy Usage. Lower your temperature a few degrees in the winter and wear some warmer clothing and turn the thermostat up a little in the summer so the AC doesn't burn unnecessary juice from the grid. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying live in a continual sweat. I'm saying a couple degrees across a few hundred million people means a massive energy savings. The simple things add up. Turn off lights when you leave a room and don't use lights when the sun does just as good a job lighting your space. Turn off computers, TV's, IPod's, and all energy sucking devices when you are not really using them. Use "Energy Common Sense". The great thing about using energy common sense is that it also saves you money.

2. Reduce Water Consumption. Even Barney the dinosaur teaches the little children not to let the water run when they are brushing their teeth. He really is a "green" dinosaur and we can learn from his teachings just please don't sing those songs to me. It's pretty simple stuff. Don't let that water run when washing, brushing teeth or getting ready to take a shower. I don't think any researcher has yet to sneak into our bathrooms to measure how long we all let the water run before jumping into shower but my guess is that it can often be over 5 minutes of water down the drain before we even enter the shower. Then when we get in, how long do we just stand there and let the precious H2O wash down the drain? Maybe CSI Miami can figure out that answer but the bottom line is that we should be aware of where we run water unnecessarily and learn to reduce that waste. That includes watering the lawn, washing cars, taking showers, brushing teeth, washing clothes or dishes and all ways we use water. Water is more critical to life than oil will ever be so let's treat it that way. Mom was right, waste not want not.

3. Recycle. Most communities have recycling bins that we can use so this is a no brainer. Try to recycle glass, bottles and paper trash. The more we do it the better we become at it and the lower the cost for recycling companies. It might be a slight nuisance today but as recyclers get better it will become easier in the future and they will get better at separating materials for recycling.

4. Re-use. My grandfather taught me this one at an early age and it had very little to do with being green and had everything to do with being poor and thrifty. He actually had jars that he would keep old nails in after he had used them. Yes, he would actually pull them out of the wall and save them for future use. I asked him one time when I saw him do this why he didn't just throw the nail away and buy new ones from the hardware store. He replied, "Why would I want to spend money on something when I already have these?" Smart man. He reused everything and rarely wasted income on something when he could re-use something he already had. This is economic sustainability in action. Employing re-use as a daily practice will also save you lots of money throughout your life as well as use less materials.

5. Educate Yourself Green. There is an abundance of free information from the web regarding how to be more environmentally sustainable. It doesn't have to cost you anything other than time to read. Learn about sustainability, investigate simple things you can do in your home to be green and reduce waste, expenses, energy, chemicals, and other unnecessary and wasteful items. There is a lot of greenwashing and bogus information being passed around today regarding environmental issues so becoming educated on the topic can help you navigate through the green trash.

Hope this helps and have a happy earth day!


Clue Free About PVC (Vinyl)

I'm still laughing at the embedded video. This is how misinformation is spread to uninformed people regarding vinyl. Take a look and have a chuckle.

Was that Satan narrating? "Carpets are like icebergs." Sure right. And morons are like geniuses. Never mind PVC Free, this video is just plain Fact Free. Ask the USGBC, the CDC and the EPA.

PVC is not toxic in the factory and is fully recyclable infinitely. Tandus actually has been recycling post consumer and post industrial PVC in a closed loop, cradle-to-cradle process in their Environmental Center since the early '90's and has already kept over 145,000,000 lbs of material from landfills so far. That's a lot of icebergs! The United States Congress gave them an Innovation award for this back in 1997. Perhaps some facts and research would be best before these people attempt their next video because this is really good environmental stewardship.

I must admit, my favorite part is when Satan says,"...if nature can find a way to break it down it is probably safe." Hmmm, probably? Nature can break down rattlesnakes but they are far from safe. Ever chew on a Hemlock? And did you know that people actually die from coconuts falling from trees and hitting people in the head? Maybe that's what happened to the people who made this video. Perhaps we should consider banning coconuts.

A Fungus Among Us - Floor Moisture

There is a stinky thing happening in office buildings today and it is hiding under your carpet. Like a cockroach slithering in the walls chasing old pizza crust this troublemaker is growing and few people even suspect it is presence or the damaging health and safety hazard it is causing. It has been known to cause sick building syndromes and generate mold and mildew. At the least it antagonizes people with breathing problems and at it’s worst it can adversely affect everyone working in the environment. What is it? The hazard is unchecked moisture underneath the carpets surface. Yes there is a fungus among us.

Recently I actually heard a real estate professional make the statement that checking slabs moisture was a complete waste of time and was totally unnecessary. That statement could not be further from the truth and ignoring a massive health and safety threat to all workers or visitors inside a public building is a legal liability not to overlook. Besides, making sure buildings are safe is an obligation for all reputable building owners, managers, architects, real estate companies and general contractors.

Just because a carpet product or carpet tile material can lay flat on the floor does not mean that everything is OK. Go ask a virologist about that one and see what they say about things that you can’t see and if that is the measure of OK. In college I couldn't’t see all the cockroaches in my dorm but we all knew they were there. Don’t ask me how but you get the picture. When it comes to moisture issues you better be sure and you better have tests or lawyers because when the biological boogieman shows up you will want one or the other or maybe even both.

The Carpet and Rug Institute and most reputable manufacturers require concrete slabs to have lower than 5 lbs of slab moisture before installing carpet and most experts would tell building owners to make sure moisture is below 3 lbs. But with the fast paced commercial construction schedules of today environments are beginning to see a frightening rise of slab moisture ranging from 6-10lbs on a regular basis. Now carpet manufacturers are often putting owners and building inhabitants at great risk by telling them that their carpet will install over these moisture levels and are inferring that it is OK. The carpet might be OK but the potential biological nightmare underneath the carpet surface is not OK. Some manufacturers have products that will install at high moisture levels but that still does not mean your floor is right. VCTT/PowerbondÔ will actually install over 10 lbs of moisture but that does not mean that biological growth will not occur.

When it comes to being green, don’t let your slabs get green with mold and mildew. Stop the madness. Fix the slab. Make sure your slabs are tested if there are any questions regarding high moisture levels and take appropriate remediation action if there levels of moisture above 5 lbs. Don’t pretend anybody’s carpet will solve the problem. Remember, bacteria loves moisture just like cockroaches love pizza. Growing green mold under your carpet is not sustainable even if it is green. It’s actually more like an icky green fungus color anyway and who wants that even if it is underneath the carpet. Don’t sweep this issue under the rug.


Comparing Sustainable Carpet

Architects, designers and owners all have a difficult challenge when it comes to sorting out the claims made by manufacturers regarding green products. Particularly since some carpet reps will make knucklehead statements like, "hey, my carpet can give you 14 LEED points. Specify this and you'll be green." But there are some simple tips that can help to make the process easier. Start with the obvious first. Ask each competing manufacturer on any RFP or RFI process one simple question; can you turn your standard running line product back into itself and keep it out of the landfill forever? The follow-up to that is; does your response meet the Federal Trade Commission guidelines for marketing claims? If the answer is no to these questions you can stop right there.

Any manufacturer in 2009 that can not do this and claims to be green is either not committed to sustainability or has not been committed to sustainability and it has finally caught up with them. Taking care of the products that you put into the environment and closing the loop should be priority one for any manufacturer that claims to be sustainable. It is intellectually dishonest to manufacture and sell millions of yards of materials and send them into the market without having a daily solution for the material that you make at the end of its useful life. There are no amount of trees you can plant to make up for that fact.

These 2 questions and answers get to the heart of a sustainable product. They answer the key question of whether or not a manufacturer is responsible about the products they are putting into the office environment and if they have an operational recycling center to provide a cradle-to-cradle solution for the raw materials that they took out of the natural environment. If a manufacturer answers yes to these questions, they should provide a signed guarantee document from an officer of the company promising that the material will not be stored, land filled or burned and that it will all be turned into new product.

Perhaps an even larger sustainable question is; how long have your products been proven to last in the commercial market? The first test of sustainability is long-term performance. A product made from biodegradable materials such as PLA that lasts 5 years or less before it falls apart or uglies out and can not be cleaned is hardly sustainable. The longer the performance the more sustainable it is economically for all parties and the less energy it takes to recycle it back into itself. Therefore, the next tip that might help architects is to ask a manufacturer; how long has your product performed in the market place in high traffic areas with your current backing system? Ten years should be the minimum and 20 years is a much better target with references to speak with about the product performance. The key here is to have the product performing without problems.

Product problems such as backing delaminating from the face product, tuft bind issues, edge ravel, shrinking, curling, cupping are all non-sustainable products because they cause the owner and all involved unnecessary energy, capital, and time. These problems also cause disruption in the work environment and often lead to the remaking of product causing more raw materials to be used, more energy to be spent, and more capital to be wasted. Ideally, a sustainable product would use less energy, less cost over time and be easier to manage. At the end of it’s useful life, hopefully 20, 30, or 40 years, the used materials would then be sent back on a green shipping carrier to the original manufacturer’s environmental recycling center and turned back into new flooring for another generation of use.

Imagine if our automobiles lasted 40 years like some vinyl backed products and were then recycled back into new cars. We could actually pass the materials from our favorite Ford truck down to our children or even our children’s children. Now that would be something! Yes, I have a dream. But for now, that is only possible with certain carpet products and we’ll have to wait to see what auto manufacturer is the first cradle-to-cradle provider. In the meantime, keep specifying sustainable carpet and compare them honestly.


PVC Free & Tweedle Dee

Recently websites and documents have been circulating stating that PVC is "one of the most hazardous consumer products ever created" and should be taken out of all commercial carpets. According to some, they can cause cancer and harm to the immune and reproductive systems. Well, if we are going to be honest, so can breathing air in New York City, sex with an unprotected partner and grilling meats outside but I can't find many industry's dedicated to eliminating sex in America or ending the good 'ol backyard BBQ. I'll take mine medium rare please.

Certain manufacturers looking for less costly (and often less durable and less sustainable) forms of backing materials have been exploiting these claims for their financial gain and playing on the fears of unsuspecting, and often uniformed, architects, designers and building owners. Before you rip the PVC pipes out of your house that runs the water to your tap or you pull the IV from your arm that runs blood from the PVC bag next time you are in the hospital, here are some things to consider.

The US Green Building Council appointed a special task force of materials experts to perform an exhaustive four-year study regarding the safety and health implications of the use of PVC as a building product. The task force concluded that there is no credible evidence that would support excluding PVC in favor of alternative materials. In fact, the task force warns against creating any credits that could steer decision makers towards alternative materials that may have worse environmental impacts. Particularly, new backings that might last 1/2 the length of time on the floor or that has never been studied as long as vinyl has been. PVC is one of the most widely used products in construction, from roofs, piping, flooring, wallcovering and many other products and there is NO substantiated claims of negative health effects after over 40 + years in our built environments.

Now, on the other hand, the government actually lists 228 items on its cancer causing list with items ranging from the sun, UVR's in tanning beds, wood dust in saw mills, exposure to X-radiation and gamma-radiation such as bone, chest and dental X-rays to things like MeIQ, MeIQx, and PhIP which are heterocyclic amine compounds that are formed when meats and eggs are cooked or grilled at high temperatures. These compounds are also found in cigarette smoke and, oh yeah, they cause cancer too. Then there's lead that makes batteries and Cobalt Sulfate which is used in electroplating, as coloring agents for ceramics, and as drying agents in inks and paints, and of course Diazoaminobenzene, a chemical used as an intermediate in the production of dyes and to promote adhesion of natural rubber to steel which is said to be listed as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen" (whatever that means). The list goes on and on and yet, vinyl in commercial carpet is not on that list. So why the hype and fear over PVC?

In this industry experts opinion there are 3 major factors contributing to this manifestation of knee jerk reaction. First, it's about love. Seriously, a legitimately caring groups of people who have seen the damage that certain chemicals have done to human health over the years are really scared for our health and welfare and are trying to do the right thing. I'm truly glad these groups of people exist. Unfortunately, these folks stopped listening with both ears to the all data on vinyl products in commercial carpet and have jumped off the PVC ledge a little too early. They are now trying to throw the baby out with the bath water. Or in this case, the baby toys out with the carpet tile backing.
Second, Fear is easy to exploit. I think it started with the cave man and fire but it's a sales fact. Certain manufacturers have decided to make carpet backing using other compounds that those same caring public watchdogs don't know about yet and have no long term test data with any history to analyze. So the watchdogs would rather attack with partial information what they think they know versus what they really don't know. These manufacturers are using PVC -free as a scare tactic and positioning tool like Kryptonite is to superman. For all we know, the substitute materials these manufacturers are using might make 3 packs of cigarettes a day look like a post modern health diet. These new materials are less than a decade old, some less than 5 years old and have yet to be studied or proven to even perform more than 6 years on the floor, unlike vinyl, which has been shown to perform perfectly for over 4 decades on the floor without any problems.

And third, it's a way to take our eye off the fact that PVC is in every car we drive, it's in every office we encounter, in every hospital we visit, every school we send our children to and in every restaurant we dine at while sipping Chardonnay and munching on charred beef. For some odd human reason, attacking PVC in commercial carpet makes some designers feel good during the day so they can go home at night and grab their PVC computer products and type on Facebook about the successful day they had ridding the world of the evil toxin PVC.

So you tell me, PVC Free, Tweedle Dee or Tweedle Dumb? Do you really want the hat with the propeller on top? I'll go with the facts and data saying it's the most sustainable and fully recyclable product available and then head to the beach for some sunshine and carcinogens. Call me crazy, but I like the beach in the summer and vinyl-backed carpet in my office. Now chill out, summer's coming and it's time to break out the BBQ!


Green Gone Goo Goo

Going green and trying to be sustainable is a really good thing but it's now starting to go over the edge. While on a US Air flight this week I read an article about an entire university system that was green. Really? Are you kidding, the entire university was sustainable? I guess everyone rides bikes to school, it's all solar powered, all LEED buildings, they recycle everything, they produce energy, and take nothing from the earth and maybe they even grow their own cabbage right? Yes I'm being facetious, but we've got to admit that the greenwash that is happening right now is truly reached an all time high. It's this type of bogus hype that causes confusion in the market and pushes people to make poor sustainable choices, whether it be at home or in their building finishes.
I read a green carpet blog last week by a guy who said he saw a carpet executive on the weather channel and that the mill was "the most sustainable in the world." I guess everything on TV is real and factual now like the Family Guy. Sadly he didn't offer any data. Maybe he just liked the executives suit or something and thought it was made of hemp, who knows. Either way, it sure sounded like the executive was selling carpet using scary stories of species dying off from the planet. Not sure what that had to do with his carpet but it seemed to make this blogger a believer. Then he babbled on about some other unsubstantiated claims regarding another competing manufacturer who was the other "greenest" mill in the world. The funny part is that the second mill was diametrically opposite of the first mill as 2 companies could possibly be. Hmmmm. Please pass me some green peas and let's continue.

Then it all came out, this blogger was a carpet dealer who primarily sold both mills. Aha! The real green story came out. Big Money. That's often the problem with green stories. They get mixed up with the green of the Benjamin's. Not really an environmentally accurate or accountable sustainable blog at all, particularly to those people who have seen this dealer dump piles of old carpet in the landfill or out in his dumpster behind the warehouse. Is dumping old carpet in the landfill on a daily basis now a sustainable practice? Do they give carbon credits for that? I digress...
Anyway, for those people that really care about little things like facts and truths there are a few places to check out carpet mills and get some perspective on who and what is really green, based on today's knowledge of what those mills offer. Check out the following sites if you are confused by the green washing and think green carpet issues have gone goo goo and you may be able to make sense of the nonsense. And for heavens sake, don't step in the goo. That's just not sustainable and the goo is not green.


Carbon Neutral?

This topic is getting about as funny as Tanya Harding doing speaking engagements and telling the world that she's been misunderstood as an athlete despite attacking her opponent in the Olympic skating competition. There are actually manufacturers trying to con the buying public into saying that they are making a "carbon neutral" carpet. Think about this. What are these mills doing, riding the carpet to the job site on bicycles and manufacturing using gerbils?
Let's get serious; this is a marketing effort at its finest. But wait, is it the manufacturers fault? Not really. See, it is the industry that allows mills to say this because the industry can buy credits to offset things they have yet to fix in their manufacturing processes. In reality, there is no such thing as carbon neutral carpet, unless of course you factor in the highly debated practice of buying carbon credits and trying to say that you have offset all of the bad practices that you are doing while making carpet. Now, even if you buy the story that those "offsets" really do offset your carbon footprint when making carpet, that doesn't make the carpet you manufacture carbon neutral, it just makes people feel better about buying the carpet you make.
The reality is that making commercial carpet these days is an energy intensive non carbon neutral process. It doesn't make it horrible it's just not carbon neutral by any manufacturer anywhere. Several mills are doing really fantastic things in terms of sustainability, but selling the story that your company is carbon neutral or your product is totally carbon neutral is like saying planting trees makes your carpet green. It might make the forest green but until manufacturers change their carpet construction, materials, manufacturing process, and are taking back all their materials and are turning them into new products, they should stop calling their carpets "carbon neutral." If you want to tell the world that you are doing well by doing good then do well and stop marketing the carbon neutral lie. As a real estate professional, don’t make “carbon neutral” the reason to buy a certain mill. Look deeper at the products themselves, the processes, and the performance and then make a decision.


Who's Green is Greener?

The world of green carpet is a little goofy right now. It's really not about "green" carpet per se it's more about who's green is greener and who can make up stuff to make people think they are doing green things. Don't get me wrong, it's really nice to see that manufacturers are even engaging in this dialog and direction, but it's the marketing babble that starts to separate the green from the lime from the ugly hunter green colors. I mean really, who wants hunter green anymore even if you did plant a few trees to get it.

Planting trees are nice and really good for the environment(as well as at Christmas time), buying wind power is cool, using solar power -good too, running plants off of bio-diesel-very nice, spending capital on carbon credits - yes, yes, recycling the trash from your cafeterias, reducing paper, going electronic, blah, blah, blah. Yes, yes, all of us sustainably minded people love all that. But what about the carpet you make? That's talking about the sustainable things you do to run your company, not about the carpet being green. True, some of those things are part of being a green carpet but if you make unsustainable crap that falls apart in 3-5 years how green is that really?

To me, green carpet is about the carpet being sustainable, fully recyclable, we'll take it back when your done, we won't let you throw it away in your neighbors back yard landfill, we won't pollute the environment with bad chemicals like pesticides, nasty adhesives, and destructive materials. Green carpet that uses less materials but performs for a veritable lifetime and is made with quality materials that are sustainable. And actually may come in some very nice green colors. (just kidding, that's a joke for those of you that are grimacing because you are so serious about the subject that you lay awake at night wondering about where your carpet is going) Chill out, there are manufacturers that do a great job of this. Then there are those that babble on about being green while dumping chemicals into children's schools via the floor.

Simply put, green carpet should be about the carpet, not the money you spend on feeling better about yourself because your carpet isn't really very sustainable. I mean really, doesn't green really mean sustainable and friendly to the environment? Think about that while your eating a nice pistachio ice cream cone. But please, recycle the wrapper.