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.