If you do a search online to help find the best flooring for your needs, carpet may come up as a flooring choice to avoid. Dirt can bury deep into the fibers. It can show stains quickly if not well cared for. And what about indoor air quality?
Is carpet really that bad?
Despite the negative press, carpet is here to stay for a variety of reasons:
- It’s affordable
- It’s soft to the touch
- It’s warmer than other flooring choices
- It reduces noise
- It’s beautiful and adds to any decor
Luckily, the carpet industry is working on sustainability too.
Today, indoor air quality matters. It’s increasingly becoming more important, especially as people find out about harmful materials and what it can do to the air supply.
In 1992, the Carpet and Rug Institute launched a Green Label program to test and determine levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in different products. The Green Label program raises the bar on what manufacturers produce, and lets you know as a consumer where a product falls. In this case, it helps you find carpet with the lowest emitting VOCs on all levels, including carpet, adhesive, and cushion products.
This is important, no matter where you’re installing carpet. It’s even more important if you are trying to become LEED certified.
What is LEED?
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It provides a framework for creating a healthy, highly efficient, and cost effective design. It’s also a globally recognized symbol of sustainability, one that can be used for all building types and building phases. For many commercial properties being built today, it’s not just a wish, it’s a requirement.
What does sustainable mean in the carpet industry?
To create a truly sustainable carpet, it moves beyond the actual product and goes into the entire production and manufacturing process. This means it’s important to look beyond the carpet, and consider the company and supplier as well.
It means focusing on how well the company does with environmental issues. Do they use environmental policies and practices at every level of the manufacturing process?
Sustainable development means a company pays attention to the people at all levels of the process – from employees creating the product to consumers who install and live with it for years to come.
It also means environmental protection. It ensures materials are sustainably sourced, and that every part of the process is performed while caring for the environment.
At the end of the day, the economic portion is only as important as ensuring the product is created for the right reasons. Yes, a company has to make a profit to stay in business. But a sustainable company will ensure it does so for the right reasons, ensuring profit is secondary to all other considerations.
You’ll find sustainable carpet is made from sustainable or recycled raw materials. The company will source energy from sustainable technology such as wind or solar power. They will consider all aspects of the process, from production to what happens to excess waste, including how the product will be disposed of years from now.
Look for certification
Because sustainability and green living are growing in the consumer market, you can find a lot of industry buzzwords that may throw you off track. Sure, a company may list a product as “natural”, but what does that truly mean?
Instead of focusing on buzzwords, pay attention to certifications instead.
We mentioned the Green Label program above, and that’s a good place to start. But it isn’t the only sustainable carpet certification program out there. Others include:
Cradle to Cradle – products are assessed for environmental and social performance across five sustainability categories, including material health, material reuse, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness.
NSF/ANSI 140 Sustainable Carpet Assessment – it’s built on life cycle assessment principles covering five different categories including public health and environment, energy and energy efficiency, bio-based content, manufacturing, and end of life management.
BRE Environmental Assessment – is a third party certification program that looks at an asset’s environmental, social, and economic sustainability performance.
Finding sustainable carpet options
Are you sold on installing sustainable carpet? Are you ready to find the perfect eco-friendly carpet for your next project?
Where do you begin?
As a project manager, you have dozens of items on your to-do list. Picking carpet is difficult enough without adding even more pressure to the task. But it doesn’t have to be that hard.
First, start by trusting a flooring expert that can help you make the right decision. It’s not enough that you purchase something online from a discount broker, or even stop by your local big box store and buy whatever is on sale. They focus on profit and getting their products sold. They don’t have time to dig deep and answer all your questions. And that’s the only way you’re going to get what you really want.
Second, learn your brand names. There are many carpet companies out there that offer eco-friendly products. Take responsibility to do a little homework and discover what their processes are. Companies like Mohawk and Shaw work hard to ensure they deliver some of the most sustainable products in the industry. From using recycled materials to reclaiming old carpet, to reducing greenhouse gases and more, by spending a few minutes researching your choice companies, you can quickly feel good about your purchase, And ensure it meets all qualifications in your journey to becoming a sustainable, LEED project.
So what’s your flooring of choice? Have you made the decision to install new carpet as you remodel and refurbish?
No matter what you read online, carpet is still a great choice for many buildings. It offers a great solution for warmth, comfort, and good looks.
If you’re trying to get LEED certified too, pay attention to how sustainable your final selection is. We can help you choose the right carpet, and love what you install well into the future.
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