What makes a floor “green”? There are many factors to consider when choosing the best flooring for your home.
Sustainably Sourced Flooring
For many, the most obvious answer is that the material used to make the flooring was sustainably sourced. That would include hardwood flooring sourced from FSC certified forests, or wool carpet from ethically raised sheep, or cork which can be recycled or harvested from trees without harming them, or tile made using recycled materials.
Non Toxic Flooring
For the health of your family, you will want to choose a flooring which was not manufactured using harmful chemicals such as volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). You can find information on low chemical choices in trustworthy green databases. Be sure that you also look at how it is installed with underlayment and adhesives.
To be sustainable, flooring needs to be durable. You don’t want to have a long useful life. High quality sustainable flooring will ensure that you enjoy your selection for many years to come. Be sure to look for products which can be easily and safely cleaned and refinished.
Because there is so much volume in the flooring in your house, you will want flooring which is manufactured in a way which makes conscientious use of energy and water. Think about transportation costs to get it to your site as well. Your floors are also a good opportunity to look at opportunities to sequester carbon in your home. For instance, cork which is harvested and minimally processed holds carbon and then the tree pulls more carbon out of the air to make the next generation.
End of Life
You need to consider the entire lifecycle of your flooring. In a ideal case, your flooring would be cradle to cradle certified and be up-cycled into another product? If not, is it recyclable? biodegradable?
Ask a Pro
When choosing your flooring, be sure to purchase from a reputable dealer who understands the health benefits of green flooring. If you don’t feel that you are getting a straight answer, look elsewhere. A room full of toxicity will cost you more that short term savings.