|There are many, many floor covering options available, ranging from hard
to soft, temporary to extremely durable, and inexpensive to costly. With all the available
options, there's sure to be an appropriate material for almost any application. The
challenge can be meshing performance, aesthetics and price while weighing the
environmental impacts of the various choices.
When you consider the relative environmental merits of different floorings, remember to look below the surface. A finish flooring alone does not make a flooring system. It's important to take into account the type of subfloor different materials require, and especially consider how the flooring will be installed. Not only are many flooring adhesives energy intensive to manufacture, but they may also contain toxic materials that can harm workers during installation or reduce indoor air quality in the completed building.
We have to think about the future effects of today's flooring choice, as well. What kind of products and labor will be needed to maintain the flooring that you specify? More resources can easily be consumed-and more toxins produced-in the maintenance of a floor than during its manufacture and installation. Is the product durable enough to stand up to the traffic it will receive where it is being applied? What particular usage and environmental hazards will the flooring have to withstand in this application? As the floor wears out, how can it be refurbished or replaced with minimal waste generation?
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