As the world’s economies recover from the recession and construction soars, the global flooring market is experiencing robust growth. This market is now forecast to reach 240 billion square feet by 2020, according to a study published by San Francisco-based Grand View Research Inc. That amount of flooring, valued at $326 billion, would cover the states of Delaware and Connecticut combined. Increasingly, this demand will be met with “green” flooring solutions designed to address a wide range of environmental and social-responsibility objectives.
Today’s flooring solutions offer something for everyone. The wealth of durable material options and the extraordinary range of colors and textures ensure an abundance of choices. And, given the increasing array of environmental and sustainability certifications available, finding a suitable product that satisfies desired environmental standards is easier than ever before.
The term “green flooring” is used loosely to refer to flooring solutions that tackle one or more environmental issues. Depending on the materials in use, top concerns include chemical off-gassing that can affect indoor air quality (IAQ), end-of life waste streams, reckless production and harvesting methods, quality control in the supply chain, inefficient energy use, climate and water impacts, and worker safety. In response, pioneering flooring product manufacturers have stepped forward to demonstrate new approaches to sourcing, manufacturing and recycling while industry associations have provided leadership in developing and administering standards of excellence for their respective market segments. Government regulations are also playing a role in moving the yardstick forward.
If the Shoe Fits
Whether you are looking for soft coverings, resilient flooring, seamless flooring or other flooring alternatives, products with third-party-certified accomplishments can now be specified. The following are some of the leading certifications in different market segments backed by accredited third-party audits and annual renewals:
FloorScore for Resilient Flooring The FloorScore program was developed by the Resilient Floor Covering Institute, La- Grange, Ga., with technical support from Emeryville, Calif.-based SCS Global Services, which also acts as the independent certification body for the program. Certified products meet the IAQ emissions criteria of LEED, CHPS and the Green Guide for Health Care and are recognized by a long list of healthy-building programs. FloorScore certification is also a steppingstone to broader sustainability certifications. It is applicable to vinyl sheet flooring, vinyl composition tile, solid vinyl tile, luxury vinyl tile, linoleum, rubber flooring, cork flooring, hardwood, engineered and bamboo flooring, laminate flooring, polymeric flooring, wall base, stair treads and accessories, flooring adhesives, underlayments, ceramic, porcelain, raised flooring and cementitious flooring.
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Chain of Custody for Wood Flooring
Minneapolis-based FSC certification has set the benchmark for responsible forestry practices for 20 years. FSC Chain of Custody certification assures that wood flooring products are derived from FSC-certified woods, based on conformance with stringent environmental, social and economic requirements. With well-established FSC Chain of Custody programs in major timber- producing countries on six continents, the variety of certified wood products is extensive, including solid wood flooring, wood surface treatments and finishes, and engineered wood flooring. In addition to FSC, other recognized responsible forestry standards include the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Washington, D.C., and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, Geneva.
Green Squared for Tile Flooring and Accessories
Green Squared for Tile Flooring and Accessories was established by the Anderson, S.C.-based Tile Council of North America under ANSI A138.1. Qualifying products include ceramic tile, glass tile, dry powder installation goods, liquid and paste installation goods, and rolled sheet and panel installation goods. Products are evaluated based on compliance in five areas: product characteristics, manufacturing and raw material extraction, end-of-product-life management, progressive corporate governance and innovation. For example, Crossville Inc., Crossville, Tenn., was an early adopter of the Green Squared standard, having its entire line of high-performance ceramic floor tiles certified.