Eco Carpet - Leading the Way In The Green Movement

co friendly everything has become much more than a passing fad it has become woven into the fabric of our very society. Only a decade ago people hoped to recycle materials from their homes and today most people recycle everything from cans, paper, plastic and anything else they can to reduce their environmental footprint. In most aspects of our lives the trend to greener living and green materials becomes greater every day and this is a good thing for our towns, our environment and also our financial future.
Perhaps one of the most unknown and little discussed markets that continues to lead the way of sustainability, environmental initiatives and eco friendly gains is the commercial carpet industry. When most people think of carpet they envision the fuzzy stuff that covers their floors at home in their living rooms and bedrooms. Rarely do people think about the millions of square feet of office floors that have carpet installed for their comfort and convenience during the office day.
Unless someone is a commercial architect, interior design professional, facility owner, general contractor or someone involved in commercial property management, most people never think about carpet at the basketball arena, courthouse or schools. Fortunately, thanks to several very dedicated manufacturers of commercial flooring products, the commercial carpet industry is one of the leading industries in the united states for advancing environmental changes and improvements in the green movement through the production of eco carpet.
Several of the largest commercial manufacturers offer entire lines of carpet made from recycled content materials that can be recycled and made back into new product. These are called 100% closed loop, cradle to cradle operations. The longest lasting operation has been in place since the early 1990’s by a company called Tandus Flooring. They have been taking back used material that they manufactured since the late 1960’s as well as old carpet tile from all the major manufacturers, reducing the material, then re-extruding it through a safe process and turning it into new 100% recycled content carpet tile backing. This truly innovative process can be done forever and offers a tremendous alternative to dumping the millions of square yards of used carpet tile into the United States’ landfills.
The first and most important step to becoming a sustainable manufacturer is to be able to be responsible for the products that you make and take them back and turn them back into itself again and keep them from the landfills. This is what nature does by recycling itself and cleaning up after it produces waste whether that is in the form of leaves or volcanic ash. Some people call this Biomimicry which is an emerging practice that studies natures best ideas and then imitates them to solve human problems. The commercial carpet industry has taken notice of natures processes and is imitating it in how they manage their waste and production.
Think about all the products that are made and imagine if all of them could be taken back and made into themselves again infinitely. Imagine what the world economy would look like with cars back into cars, computers back into computers and all perishable containers back into themselves. Think of the waste we would save and the cost of production we would reduce. That is what is happening in the commercial carpet industry and it truly is something to be applauded and emulated in all sorts of manufacturing businesses. Just recently,Tandus Flooring became the first manufacturer to get global third party certification for their reclamation center for flooring.  This is the first of its kind globally and sets the environmental bar for the rest of the industry and manufacturing of all industries.
It is good to see eco carpet leading the way in the green movement. Hopefully other industries can learn from leaders in the commercial carpet industry about how to change their paradigm and shift their processes to a green model of eco manufacturing and taking back product into a closed loop system. Let your business, school and office facilities people know to be sure to use eco carpet and support the leaders of the green movement. Even if your carpet isn’t green in color it can be environmentally friendly and an eco carpet.


LEED Carpet Tile - Is It the Best Choice?

There is a lot of discussion these days about what the best choice for a sustainable interior floorcovering should be and the debate continues. Some architects say that LEED carpet tile is the best solution. Most of them say this based on the fact that broadloom carpet cannot be recycled into itself yet in a closed loop system. Others say this because carpet tile can be replaced and is a longer term solution without some of the problems of broadloom. LEED carpet tile is a great solution for many environments. This article looks at the pros, and yes, the cons of the discussion and what flooring really is the best choice for what environments.
LEED carpet tile really refers to carpet tiles that can help with LEED points on a project and are generally those tiles that are considered environmentally friendly. Many carpet tiles these days have this designation and if they don’t really, their marketing teams do a great job convincing some architects and designers that they should be considered anyway. This is why it is important to really look at the facts and the specification details of the products being considered and make sure all marketing claims adhere to the Federal Trade Commission guidelines of environmental marketing claims. Otherwise, you could be getting duped by a slick marketing MBA graduate who knows how to push your green buttons. Also, using only materials that have independent third party certifications so you know you can trust the claims you are evaluating is a very smart idea as well.

All that said, are LEED carpet tiles the best choice for an interior environment? Often times they are due to the fact that the top companies in the carpet tile industry can all be recycled back into themselves in a closed loop system. This is the single most important factor for an environmentally responsible mill. If a company has no plan for what to do with the materials they make then they really should not be considered a green carpet tile anyway. But what about the negative side of carpet tiles?  

Consider that often times carpet tiles are replaced rather than cleaned since it is easy to pick them up off the floor when a spill or stain occurs. That process is wasteful of materials and capital. Often times it is better to clean the floor with a green maintenance program than pull up expensive carpet tiles and toss them in the garbage and send them to the landfill. Additionally, this practice often leaves facilities with splotchy and quilt-like floors that have new and old tiles side by side which looks terrible. When this happens the floor starts looking so bad that all the carpet gets replaced prematurely.  In this case the selection of a LEED carpet tile might not have been the best choice. Perhaps a hybrid resilient flooring like VCTT might have been a better solution.
Bottom line, LEED carpet tile can be a great choice for certain environments but it is not always the best solution for every interior space. Make sure you consider ergonomics, replacement cycles, needs of the users, recyclability, the true need of replacement materials, and the maintenance program of the user. This will help you choose the right product for the right application.


Eco Friendly Manufacturing - Top 3 Keys

Manufacturing firms that have gone green are finding that it saves them thousands of dollars each year to operate eco friendly manufacturing facilities. Going green cuts down energy costs and can even save money on insurance rates. Experts predict that green manufacturing will be the most popular trend in the next five years. So what is eco friendly manufacturing?  Here are three keys that help to clarify.
Reduce Waste -The first step toward going green and operating an eco friendly manufacturing facility is to find all the waste in the manufacturing process and reduce the use of raw materials. Manufacturers should look closely at the harmful waste and emissions their company may be producing. One way to do this is to go through the ISO 14001 process which will put a manufacturing company under the microscope. This certification process, even if not achieved by a manufacturer, will identify areas that need focus and improvement. In the flooring business one other indicator of an eco friendly manufacturer is to have your products meet the NSF-140 standards criteria. This will make sure the products are not harmful to anyone and meet the most advanced requirements in the market today. Additionally, employing solar, wind, and other alternative energy sources to reduce energy costs definitely is a sign of a green company. This can also include using innovative methods such as employing bio-diesel waste to run boilers and other elements of an eco friendly manufacturing facility.

Recycle -The simplest and most obvious way to go green is to start recycling and the first place to start as a producer of goods is with the product the company manufactures. If a company has no way to reclaim and recycle the materials they are selling and putting into the market then they should not be considered an eco friendly manufacturer. Companies should first take responsibility for their own products, taking them back and then turning them into the same product in a closed loop, cradle to cradle system.  This means they should be selling recycled content materials and fully recyclable products and if possible, also looking at ways to divert other waste streams and use those recycled materials in their manufacturing process.  After that is accomplished, an eco friendly manufacturer should look at every area of their company and find materials that can be reduced, reused and recycled. Recycling products within an operation will save any company considerable dollars and is a good sign of an eco friendly manufacturing business.
Eco Training and Education - Knowledge is power and it is vital that associates understand the importance of sustainability, going green and the benefits to the environment, the economy and the community. A formal training program should be put in place to teach each employee about the benefits to themselves and their families as well as how it benefits their employer. Many eco friendly manufacturers take their staffs into the local community to work on environmental projects that help their towns as additional ways to teach the company through activities. Some manufacturers have found success by offering incentives to staff members that regularly practice recycling and employ other green initiatives such as reducing energy consumption in addition to adding alternative energy systems to their homes. As a baseline, eco friendly manufacturers hold regular meetings to train associates on the value of taking steps to becoming more sustainable.
As a society with bountiful natural resources and enormous wealth, it is easy to overlook the impact of our everyday choices and habits. Rethinking what, why and how we buy can have a tremendous effect on re balancing our demands on natural resources, energy, water, air, habitats and land. Architects, designers, contractors and building owners should reward eco friendly manufacturers with their business for taking doing the right things environmentally.


LEED Carpet and Eco Friendly Manufacturing

If you are in the commercial interiors business the question is asked regularly about LEED carpet and eco friendly manufacturing and what the differences are between products and processes. This can be a very challenging question to research because there are many schools of thought on this and a diversity of manufacturing systems using various raw and recycled materials can all be called LEED carpets. 
We should first note that LEED carpets is a term that really means materials that can earn LEED credits and those that are environmentally friendly as there really is no such thing as a LEED carpet.  Architects and designers can select products that may earn LEED points toward satisfying the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED® Green Building Rating System™. Points may be earned in the materials and resources section for the recycled content credit 4.2 and 4.2 as well as the local and regional materials points.  This has to do with products manufactured within a 500 mile distance to the ship to and installation site. 
Under the LEED Indoor Environmental Quality, points may be given for Low Emitting Materials Credit 4.3 and people thinking beyond the LEED carpet ideology and deeper into the issue of what is really green carpet would look for products that are installed using environmentally friendly, low off gassing adhesives as well as peel and stick systems.  Some manufacturers can help with an innovation point for a variety of reasons which should be requested by each manufacturer when specifying a project to see if there is anything that may qualify but it should always be remembered that the term LEED carpet is really just a phrase designed to find eco friendly green carpets.
Another thing to review is if a material meets the NSF 140 standards. NFS 140 is the first multi-attribute American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard for environmentally preferable building materials in the construction industry. The industry group developed this standard to Increase the economic value of sustainable carpet throughout the supply chain as well as provide information to help specifiers sort out information on sustainable attributes of LEED carpet. 
While the commercial carpet industry has lead the way for eco friendly manufacturing and LEED carpet specifications there is still a lot of cleaning up that needs to be done in terms of marketing. One way to level the playing field would be for all manufacturers to adhere to the Federal Trade Commissions marketing guidelines that require a clear set of rules for the marketing of environmental claims. This would stop some of the worst greenwashing that currently permeates the industry when it comes to LEED carpets and eco friendly manufacturing claims. It would also even things up if all manufacturers used the same third party certification company and stays far away from using a certification company or methodology that has high profile consultants who are on or who have ever been on the payroll as this certainly could be seen as a conflict of interest.
Speaking of eco friendly manufacturing it should be noted that eco friendly manufacturing exists using all kinds of materials to include PVC and non PVC substances as well as processes that include a host of other compounds. Manufacturers that are ISO 14001 certified also should be given a special consideration due to the diligence and scrutiny that these manufacturers undergo throughout the process of validation.
One other note of clarification regarding LEED carpet is the term cradle to cradle. Cradle to cradle is really a term that means a manufacturer is responsible for the products they make from creation to the end of their useful life and that they have the facilities and ability to recycle the product back into itself again infinitely. This term is not owned by any one manufacturer but by those that can deliver on this promise and prove it through third party certification by a truly independent company when meeting FTC guidelines.  Hopefully this helps when looking at LEED carpets and trying to better understand eco friendly manufacturing.

Green Carpet Tile And Sustainable Flooring Options

It is a very good thing that everyone is talking about green carpet and green carpet tiles these days. All the discussion hopefully means that end users, architects, and designers are more interested about what types of materials are going into commercial spaces and reviewing products to see if they are generally sustainable. This is a positive trend that has developed over the last decade and it means that eco flooring is becoming more important to everyone.
There are many types of quality products on the market today that would qualify for green carpets each having various attributes of environmentally friendly material. Many of these meet the CRI Green Label Plus program and have low VOC’s (volatile organic compounds), some qualify for the California Platinum status or help with LEED points and others break ground for their material composition as well as their longevity and performance in the field.
Recently I have heard a few architects say that green carpet tiles are the most sustainable flooring materials available and that statement warrants a closer look at these perceptions.  Carpet tiles have been used for years in commercial areas instead of broadloom carpets because individual tiles can be replaced in worn or damaged areas which seems to be a more sustainable approach.  Additionally, some of the better carpet tile manufacturers are offering 100% recycled content backing materials as well as post and pre-consumer recycled face fibers which are very positive developments.
Additionally, some of these products are made by manufacturers who use bio based fuels and renewable energy sources to power parts of their operations, they operate under ISO 14001 guidelines and adhere to NSF-140 product standards and third party certification.  Add to this the fact that a couple companies can recycle these products back into new green carpet tiles indefinitely and it makes for a very sound argument that green carpet tile is the most sustainable soft surface flooring material available.
Now consider the other side of the proverbial green carpet coin.  Carpet tiles usually require significantly more raw material than broadloom or woven carpets.  It is usually well over 30%+ by weight more which means it takes much more materials to make carpet tile. While a couple manufacturers in the commercial market today have open architecture environmental recycling facilities with the ability to recycle their own tiles and other manufacturers products, the fact remains that the large majority of used tiles are either incinerated or dumped into landfills.
In Europe alone over seventy million kilos of tiles are disposed of each year, and while American stats are not available, it is estimated that it is even more so we are talking significant volume. It seems ironic that when people replace carpet tiles they usually throw them away so their designed functionality actually promotes more material being sent into the landfill. What this means the vast majority of these heavier weight products that require more materials to make are going into landfills and that is something to consider when looking for a green carpet.
Recently a building owner asked me if it was more sustainable to buy a carpet tile with all the green attributes the manufacturer had represented or a hybrid resilient cushion flooring material that did not have as much recycled content material but that has been shown to last for over 35 years in the market and can be fully recycled at the end of its useful life.  That is a great question by an informed owner and is the cause of this article.
While green carpet tile can offer users and architects perhaps the best specification on paper for environmentally friendly materials it is the real world where sustainability must also be evaluated. To ignore a proven product that lasts for over 35 years under the most extreme conditions because it does not have recycled content fiber seems short sited and worth another look when considering the true meaning of green carpet.


What Is A Sustainable Flooring Expert?

If you are in the flooring business it seems like everyone is green these days or at least claiming to be green. Kermit the frog would be proud. Marketing brochures are using lots of green photos of trees and nature motifs to make us feel green. The Carpet and Rug Institute qualifies just about any manufacturer making carpet with a green label and  it seems like every rep pushing a flooring product says they are green so how does an
architect, designer or owner actually know if someone they are speaking to is a sustainable flooring expert?  It can be a daunting task in an industry filled with greenwash and the desire to project an image of eco expertise.

Perhaps we should start with the obvious. Can someone who is new in an industry be an expert?  It is possible that people can study specifications, product performance, recycled content, embodied energy and all the various aspects of what an environmentally friendly product is but can that make someone a sustainable flooring expert?  It is highly unlikely.  That is because understanding a sustainable specification is only part of the equation.  How will someone who is new in an industry truly know if any product delivers what it says it will over time?  

Time in the industry can be a key because sustainable products perform for long periods of time and the only way to know if they do or if they don’t is to evaluate them in the lab or preferably in the workplace and that requires experience in the market. This is not to say that an experienced flooring professional is automatically a sustainable flooring expert so do not misunderstand.  

It is to say; however, that a professional that has been on hundreds of projects and reviewed vast types of flooring products in the field has a great advantage on delivering a qualified analysis of how these products perform over time and if they live up to the longevity promises of their sustainable marketing stories. This expertise is unique and should be viewed as added value by all customers in the real estate and architectural industry.

This means it may be a good idea to start with people who have some experience as well as an understanding of what a sustainable specification looks like and what they can deliver over time.  A sustainable flooring expert should have experience in a variety of flooring materials to include tufted broadloom, woven materials, resilient finishes, wood, modular carpet tile, as well as hybrid resilient materials. 

Additionally, a sustainable flooring expert should understand LEED requirements as they relate to floor finishes and have an understanding of how the US Green Building Council determines sustainable materials.  A sustainable flooring expert should also understand how CRI, CHPS, the FTC, the EPA, and other organizations review materials and quantify their sustainability ratings and even claims that can be made about them.  It is not just about checking off the box that says recycled content face material anymore.  

As environmental sustainability continues to become an integral part of our interiors and our lives it is more important than ever that we know we are getting accurate information from our representatives so finding a sustainable flooring expert to work with is key to making good material choices.


Sustainable Flooring Grows

Why is it when people think of sustainable flooring the first thought they have is about the stuff that is on their floor at home?  Rarely does anyone imagine the carpet at their favorite restaurant, bar or theater when they hear the word flooring.  Is it that we think first of where we live rather than work or is it that we are tainted by some chewing gum or greasy spot we saw under our table at lunch? In any case, we really need to look at the larger picture and understand how the commercial spaces in the world have an even greater impact on sustainability and sustainable flooring than do our homes.  
LEED buildings and building green have become a fact of life for the commercial real estate business and professional architectural community.  It is not a fad or a passing phase because sustainable flooring is here to stay and for good reasons.  Simply, it makes good business sense and it is the right thing to do for the environment and for our global society.
In an ever expanding disposable world commercial flooring materials have to become more environmentally friendly because we are running out of room in landfills to dump used materials. Equally as important is that from a business perspective the cost to dispose of the materials is rising. Some commercial carpet manufacturers actually offer free shipping to take materials back to their environmental centers and recycle them into new products at no charge.  This reduces landfill fees and  limits the materials impact on our environment and helps to limit carbon footprint.  This is part of the reason sustainable flooring is growing because it cuts costs for owners and provides feed stock material for the manufacturer and both of these things are good.
The challenge that the industry and architects have as the explosion of sustainable flooring continues is to be able to decipher the truth amidst the green wash marketing between what is hype and what is truly environmentally friendly.  Knowledge and facts of the material content, their life cycles, their true costs, and what the manufacturers do with the products at the end of their useful life is a good place to start.  It is the responsibility of the professionals in the commercial real estate and construction industry to make sure that sustainable flooring continues to grow and that the right materials are being used more often and the less sustainable materials are being used less.


The Carpet And Rug Institute Blog: Sustainable Carpet Recycling Funding Sources

The Carpet And Rug Institute Blog: Sustainable Carpet Recycling Funding Sources

Most people truly don't understand the leadership role the carpet industry has taken in areas of recycling and sustainability. It is time that more people understood the research and development that is happening in the commercial flooring industry.

The Blog @ Homeland Security: From the Field: "Going Green" at CBP

The Blog @ Homeland Security: From the Field: "Going Green" at CBP

Flooring for Green Schools

Think about this, we send our children to spend six or more hours a day in facilities that just barely meet health and safety standards. Is this sustainable or even healthy?   Every child deserves to go to a learning environment with conditions that give the child the best opportunity to learn as much as possible with healthy air to breathe and conditions that encourage learning.

Everybody knows that green schools are healthy for kids and conducive to their education but for some reason budgets or politics or both cause us from stopping short of doing the right things for our kids.  The USGBC highlights 4 key items that green schools encourage including daylight and views, indoor air quality, excellent acoustics and thermal comfort.  Many studies have demonstrated direct educational and health benefits from these four areas of focus.  Interestingly enough the flooring choices architects and school districts make have a very large impact on all four of these influencing factors.  By now, most all educators, architects and designers understand that daylight improves performance and attitude of students and teachers alike but very few ever stop to think about what glare does to students and teachers.  While daylight is positive, glare from shiny floors have a negative impact on students performance in classrooms and often cause them stress and inability to pay attention to the material being taught.  So why all the shiny floors full of glare?

Acoustics absolutely play a role on how students learn and we have learned through many studies that too much reverberation in a learning environment causes hearing challenges to students.  Why then do we continue to install hard surface materials in our learning environments when we know they dramatically increase reverberation for our students?  This seems counterproductive yet these flooring types have become the standard for many schools. 

Comfortable indoor temperatures have also been studied and we know that flooring temperature can be critical since our feet are always touching the floor and influencing how we feel.  Yet most schools put down floor surfaces with little or no RValue and no impact on the indoor temperature, the reduction of wasted energy or the increased occupant satisfaction as it relates to temperature.  Is this consistent with what we know to be good and healthy for our students and teachers?

And lastly, we know that good indoor air quality improves health; however, we are completely misguided in our understanding of how flooring impacts IAQ.  Many educators and parents believe that soft surfaces create IAQ and mold issues and recent studies are indicating a different story that must be investigated. In actuality, our school HVAC closets are indicators that dust is circulating all over schools because there is nowhere for it to go and it is never taken out of the school.  Chemicals used to clean and shine hard surface floors are ending up on bookshelves, desk tops and in our children’s lungs and dust from the,”pigpen effect,” is everywhere.  We must re-look at these issues and adapt the flooring for our schools as we move into a more intelligent and sustainable period for our schools.

Kids Hate Dirty Floors - So Why Do We Keep Making Them Sit In The Dirt?

How many of us want to sit in the street in the dirt for the better part of the day?  Has anyone who has actually seen a special on the school situation in Afghanistan hoped that our kids could spend their days learning while sitting in the dirt outside?  While I'm sure our children love to play outside in the filth from time to time, none of them really want to sit there and try to learn or listen to a teacher all day.  So why do so many schools continue to spend valuable dollars on facilities for hard, cold, dirty floors and then ask our kids to sit there?  

The case could be made that VCT floors are cheap and that would be a fair argument.  But that's where it stops.  VCT floors that dominate the K-6 schools in the United States are cold, hard, expensive to maintain, cause airborne particulates to float everywhere and yes, they are dirty.  Make no mistake, the fine people that are attempting to keep the schools and these hard floors clean for the kids are using every type of chemical possible to scrub, strip, wax, buff and spin shine these floor clean but they are almost always dirty because dirt just lives in schools. 

Here is where this practice starts making even less sense.  After we fund these floors and the massive operational budgets that go along with having to try and clean them for the next 20 years the teachers and parents take matters into their own hands and do the right thing by putting something more useful on the floor.  They go and buy soft pieces of area rugs, colorful learning circles, and even times pieces of carpet for the kids to sit on so they don't have to be dirty and cold when they are sitting on the floor during the day.  It's almost funny.  

Perhaps we should ask our architects, designers, and administrators to talk to the teachers and students about what they want and how they would be most comfortable during their learning days.  If that is impossible, just walk around a school and see what the have put in themselves to help the kids.  Oh, and let us not forget all those tennis balls they have cut up and put on the bottom of the chairs to stop the noise pollution and scuffing that occurs to those VCT floors.  Spending money on these types of floors for schools is not fiscally sustainable, hurts indoor air quality and does not provide a clean floor for our children.  We can definitely do better and hopefully we will.


Commercial Carpet - The Top 3 Ways To Choose Green

When people think of carpet they always think of the stuff that is on their floor at home.  Rarely does anyone picture the carpet at their favorite restaurant, bar or theater when they imagine carpet.  Commercial carpet is very different than what we have at home since when it is being selected issues of return on investment, carpet repair and carpet cleaning are rarely part of the decision making process.  Most importantly, commercial carpets go into commercial spaces like food service areas, schools, hospitals and offices and they take far more abuse than in our homes.  They actually take more abuse than anything in the commercial space.  Carpet is walked on by everyone, spilled upon constantly, and most always under maintained.  For these reasons and many others, commercial carpet is completely different than normal home flooring products and should be considered unique and one of the most important interior selection, particularly since old carpet is a huge contributor to landfill dumping.  Unfortunately, all too often the thing designers consider first when making green carpet choices are LEED points and recycled content and this is a big mistake. 
Choosing a green product is much more than just thinking about recycled content, carbon footprint and LEED points.  The top 5 ways to choose a green product should always include the following:
First, how long will the product last.  Green or sustainable products must be measured by the longevity of their productive and performing life first.  A commercial carpet made of corn or PLA that lasts 3 years before it falls apart or uglies out is worthless and not green at all.  A product should perform for the minimum of 10 years and be easily cleanable but preferably perform for 15 to 20 years.   The most sustainable soft surfaces last for over 30 years or more.  The decision to replace carpet should be the owners by choice and not because the carpet is falling apart.  
Second, is the product fully recyclable, cradle-to-cradle by the manufacturer.  Companies such as Tandus have systems and processes in place that can recycle their own materials as well as materials manufactured by the rest of the industry offering a solution for their own materials as well as old materials from their competition.  This is a much more sustainable solution.  Companies such as these should be rewarded for their innovation and open architecture of being able to take care of materials that are currently on the floor getting ready to go to the landfill from any manufacturer as well as their own old materials.
Third, does the product offer recycled content in their own product. This would include both pre-consumer and post consumer materials.  This means that the product is helping the manufacturing world as well as using materials that have already been in use in the commercial environment.
Green carpet and specifically green commercial carpets are an important aspect of limiting materials going to landfills as well as reducing carbon footprint.  While planting forests and trees are important, the most important thing a carpet company can do is be able to have a cradle-to-cradle system for their material.  Green bonus points are given to those companies that can also take care of the rest of the commercial markets carpet.  That is the greenest of green carpet in the commercial environment.


Sustainable Works of Architecture

As Earth Day approaches it is a great time to look at some fantastic sustainable architecture.  Most of us are learning to be better stewards with what we have and as we all have less and less income due to our economy we need to do more with less.  As they say, necessity is the mother of invention.  And speaking of invention, take a look as some amazing designs showing real creativity and design.  Check out these 10 sustainable works of architecture 


Old Is Green - The Sustainability of Doing Nothing

Often times people get so focused on bio based materials; recyclability or carbon footprint that when it comes to flooring materials they forget one of the most important places to start and that is performance.  It is true with buildings as well as floors.  A 600 year old castle that has never been rebuilt is far more sustainable than a modern day building that might last 50 years even if it has waterless toilets and longer lasting light bulbs.  Perhaps when owners start thinking more like kings then we will start building 1000 year buildings in the United States rather than 50 year disposable buildings and sports stadiums that we are building today.  Actually, I've seen sports arenas torn down within 15 years of their construction so 50 years is often rather generous but you get the point.

One carpet manufacturer several years ago launched a carpet made from corn (PLA) fiber and it performed so poorly it wouldn't stand up for 2 years before falling apart. Let's face it, carpet that only lasts 2 to 5 years is not economically or environmentally sustainable or responsible.  When you consider cost of materials, energy, carbon footprint, labor, labor to remove, labor to reinstall new materials and all the associated hassles to get the new product off and back on to the floor, even if the product were made from lima beans it still wouldn't be very sustainable.  Now if the lima bean flooring lasted for 35-50 years that would really be something sustainable to sing about. 

In the meantime, Interior Design magazine is correct in finding this long lasting material called VCTT, or Powerbond.  Take a look at this link.

Material Girl

Every once in a while I find good places to learn about sustainable materials and I've found one at Material Girl.  This young blogger offers great places find materials from residential countertops to drapes to flooring materials that have green attributes and sustainable qualities.  One of her posts found Powerbond, or VCTT, as a long lasting fully recyclable material.  It is great to see people who are actually looking for better materials.   Go material girl go!