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Sustainable Flooring Incorporated in Green Building Guidelines

October 17, 2012

Green building guidelines can vary by building type, end use, and other various requirements. In the building sector, green-labeled flooring products abound, yet the overall sustainability challenge remains. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the building sector uses more primary energy than the automotive sector, and nearly as much as the industrial sector. Responsible building professionals are asking, “What share of the industrial output is represented by the materials going into my project?” Sustainable flooring should be incorporated into any application and should also offer other solutions relative to the application. Review the following as you consider your next green building project:

  • The material type has been selected and approved green by industry standards.
    • The product’s life cycle has been considered in addition to the claims made by the manufacturer.
  • Total environmental footprint is accounted for and represented in product selection:
    • Product, material, and technologies incorporated are all assessed.
    • LEED rating systems are being met or exceeded.
  • Cradle-to-cradle Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) has been performed on products being considered:
    • Resource extraction and product/materials transport.
    • Material processing and product manufacturing.
    • Onsite building construction requirements.
    • Occupancy and maintenance considerations.
    • Building decommissioning and demolition.
    • Material disposal, reuse, and recycling.
  • Resource Extraction has been considered for:
    • Raw materials are a significant factor in a product’s life and should not be overlooked.
    • Potentially destructive nature of material sourcing, cultivation, and extraction.
    • Domestic sourcing to reduce transportation impact.
  • Product manufacturing has been assessed for:
    • Limiting waste and energy consumption.
    • Reduction of harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
    • Transportation of raw materials and finished product is done as conscientiously as possible.
  • Construction process has been considered for LCA strategies:
    • Where the components come together energy use is used with environmental responsibility in mind.
    • Use of distribution centers or warehouses are reduced or eliminated.
  • Occupancy and maintenance consequences have been identified:
    • Comfort, durability, noise reduction, and dust reduction that will affect occupants.
    • Product maintenance over the expected life span of the floor has been considered for low impact.
  • Demolition, disposal, reuse, and recycling availability have been analyzed:
    • If the cradle-to-cradle LCA is being observed there is no end, rather a new beginning.
    • Recycling technologies have been identified to be down cycled for reuse or recycled into base materials for a new purpose.
  • Determine if the environment will require slip resistance.
    • In locations where water, oil, grease, or other factors create slippery conditions consider maximizing the safety of metal flooring by also specifying the SlipNOT® surface.

All SlipNOT® products have a minimum of 40% recycled content and up to 83% recycled content. Raw material sources come from recycled metal being specified for new use. The slip resistant coating and metal substrates are both sourced from recycled materials, bringing the efforts of sustainability from all aspects of the process. Most installations are specified as permanent solutions; the longevity of SlipNOT® products outlast the need for product use in many cases and are used in a variety of Standing on Green Principles: Sustainable Flooring Choices and Life Cycle Assessment.” Architectural Record’s Continuing Education Center. Apr. 2008. Web. 09 Oct. 2012. <http://continuingeducation.construction.com/article.php?L=113&C=400>

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