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Sustainable Floorcoverings
1/8/2013

In an article reprinted from facilitiesnet.com, INSTALL Director, John McGrath, discusses some of the ways that floorcoverings can help in sustainability efforts:
 
We (the industry) moved ahead with green and sustainability issues because of market rate issues. Back in the 90s, there was an issue with “sick buildings” and high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) coming from the carpet and from our adhesives. So there were market forces that caused the floor covering industry to work on lessening or eliminating the chemical compounds that caused the VOC’s and noxious fumes. We began working on taking VOC’s out of our products, and also recycling and reclaiming our work so we kept our materials out of landfills.

When LEED came about in the 2000’s, they set up two categories where floor covering can shine as being very green and help in sustainability efforts. The first is in the Materials and Resources category, because a lot of our materials are recycled, rapidly renewable, and it's exceptional when you have to use to a landfill for any of our products.  Most of our products can be reclaimed, taken back off the jobsite and remade into another product.  Sometimes into another floor covering product, but most of the time, after it gets reclaimed, it gets broken down and can be used for playground equipment, tires, or stuff like that. Floor coverings generally don't go into a landfill.

The other category where floor coverings can contribute to LEED is in Indoor Environmental Quality. There are two sections for low emitting materials. One for adhesives and sealants, and the next one for flooring systems. Changes have been made so that our adhesives are water-soluble. We've taken a lot of the noxious chemicals out of the carpets, out of the adhesives, so the VOCs have really dropped down.
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