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Choosing a Green Floor

bamboo flooringVestina F. Crayton, Pinellas County Extension Educator, Urban Sustainability

Replacing or updating your floors is a big investment. There are many functional and attractive flooring materials available. Before you purchase, consider selecting a material that is environmentally friendly. Some options that are available include cork, bamboo (pictured, right), tile, concrete, linoleum, brick, terrazzo, stone, and wood.
Vendors are one of the easiest ways to help you identify what is green and what makes it green. With so many choices, how do you begin to make a selection? A good place to start is to ask “how will this material perform for the activities conducted in the room?” For example: the material that you use in your kitchen may not be what you would use in your bedroom. Consider these three factors:
1. Cost – In addition to the price, what are the environmental and social impacts?
2. Maintenance and Durability – How long will this product last?
3. Health – How will this product affect my indoor air quality?
Rob Banks, executive vice-president of a world-leading building materials manufacturer reflects on the flooring trends for 2008. “In terms of growth in sales this year, we have seen some of our biggest increases so far from cork flooring. Cork flooring has a number of unique benefits that customers are starting to pick up on. It’s softer under foot than wood flooring and does a great job at retaining warmth. It’s also a renewable product that is harvested sustainably.” Even with the increasing desire to explore and utilize environmentally friendly products, wood continues to be a top choice for consumers. With this mind, here are a few quick tips to help you evaluate a wood product.

Whatever material you decide to purchase, do the research and ask the right questions.

References:
Pinellas County Extension – Solutions for Your Life http://pinellas.ifas.ufl.edu/sustainability/green_purchasing.shtml
Occupational Safety and Health Administration http://www.osha.gov/
Forest Stewardship Council http://www.fsc.org/
Roberts,J, (2006). Good Green Kitchens, Utah: Gibbs Smith