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GREEN FLOORING

FOCUS ON: FLOORING

Manufacturers of internal flooring are under increasing pressure. Recyclability, sustainable sourcing, wholelife costs, anti-allergy, low maintenance - these are just some of the criteria modern flooring materials must meet to appeal to the green-minded specifier. And manufacturers are keen to impress. For instance, Interface continues its quest for a 'zero footprint on the environment' - even offsetting fuel emissions by planting trees in a 'Trees for Travel' scheme.

London studio Architype is one practice at the forefront of sustainable building. Its materials palette is required to meet a rigorous environmental agenda and, according to associate Catherine Harrington, 'greening' your floor is simple and inexpensive: 'There's no excuse, ' she says.

Architype gives AJ Specification a simple guide and case studies of its latest projects that use sustainable flooring materials.

DO

specify floor materials that:

are constituted from natural materials such as clay tiles, cork or linoleum (check material composition in detail);

consist of recycled materials, such as recycled rubber (Ecoplan by Freudenberg or Flextuft by Flexco, for example) or reused timber flooring;

are timber finishes that are certified as being sourced from managed sources, such as FSC or PEFC; and - can be repaired easily and can be recycled through reuse (some flooring companies will take material back to recycle).

Furthermore:

consider using finishes that are locally produced and investigate means of transport to site for those that are not;

consider the environmental performance of the whole floor system - and of its entire lifespan - from its material production to its replacement - keep updated - environmental criteria for building materials are always changing;

investigate the entire composition of the floor material and request information on the company's environmental policies;

look at 'The Chemical Home' and 'Consuming Chemicals' on the Greenpeace website; and - make sure there is no PVC in the composition.

DON'T

specify flooring that:

has a plywood sub-base or plywood backing that is not from certified sources;

contains PVC of any sort, or other synthetic materials that are heavily polluting in their manufacture;

could trigger allergies or is difficult to clean thoroughly;

contains substances that off-gas into the atmosphere during their lifespans;

requires applied synthetic treatment like polyurethane, that need continuous applications during the building's lifespan;

requires chemical cleaning agents as part of the floor's regular maintenance; and

consists of fixed carpet in spaces used by children (due to allergies and problems with cleaning).

Catherine Harrington is an associate with Architype

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