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.