How Green is “Green” When Specifying Flooring?

12 12 2008

Consumers across the nation are “going green.”  They are making environmentally friendly choices and buying green products.  When companies claim that their products are green, it is important to do research before you make a purchase.  Mike Holmes, contractor and TV show host of Holmes on Homes wrote an article called Going natural requires some detective work.  He offers 5 questions to ask before making an environmentally-responsible flooring purchase.  And we are proud to tell you, Wicanders passed the test with flying colors!

harvest

Is the method of harvesting eco-friendly? Different materials have different effects on the environment. Holmes says “The processing required to get marble or slate out of the ground isn’t so earth-friendly, and the methods of harvesting some hardwood forests, say in Brazil, are questionable.”  But here at Team Wicanders, we know that Cork Oak Trees are harvested by hand, by generations of farmers who’s families have worked with the Montado forests for many years. In fact, more than 100,000 people depend on cork production.

Are the methods of processing and shipping the product responsible? While it’s true that cork is shipped from Portugal, independent studies have shown that even with transport, cork has a negative carbon footprint- meaning that its use is actually beneficial for the earth by retaining CO2  –these forests are responsible for nearly 4.8 million tons of the world’s CO2 retention per year, and trees survive naturally for 150-250 years without any use of synthetic or chemical herbicides, fertilizers or irrigation. ‘The Economics of Climate Change’ report, also called the  Stern Review, stresses that deforestation, which contributes 20-25% of global carbon dioxide emissions annually, adds more to global emissions each year than all the world’s transportation!

Our beautiful Wicanders Cork Oak floors are made from the by-products of cork bottle stopper production!  And, Wicanders floors use Acrodur®, a purely water-based Eco-friendly binder by BASF. It contains no solvents such as the often used phenol-formaldehyde or urea-formaldehyde resins that give off harmful emissions. In a study done by Amorim, the production, use and disposal of wood floors yield 2.5 to 4 times more CO2 equivalents (per square meter) than cork flooring.  Luxury vinyl tiles produce 6.5 to 11 times more!

How is the product installed? Wicanders floors are quicker and easier to install than ever before. With their patented CORKLOC-design, Wicanders flooring saves time, energy, and reduces installation expense.  This easy installation paired with the durability of Wicanders tough, resilient surface finishes means that you won’t have to replace your floors any time soon.  Just another reason Wicanders flooring is sustainable.

How do you maintain the product? In order to maintain Wicanders Cork Oak Floors, all you need is a vacuum (or broom!) and a damp cloth…no harsh cleaning products, waxes or sealants for these floors! It couldn’t be more simple.

Is the material renewable? Harvesting stone or marble is not very Eco-friendly, because once those materials are removed from the earth, they do not come back.  When harvesting trees for hardwood floors, trees are cut down and take many years to grow back.  Cork Oaks are not cut down, only their bark is harvested every 9 years, and the cork grows back!

Don’t forget that Wicanders products count towards LEED credits for “Indoor Environmental Quality, Materials and Resources, Recycled Content, Rapidly Renewable Materials, Low-Emitting Materials: Adhesives and Sealants, and Innovation in Design!”  To learn more about Wicanders flooring, check out the 2007 Sustainability report (which you can find on the column to the right, labeled “corporate”)

These five questions are a great checklist for any and all of your next “green” purchases. Do you have another way to keep yourself in check? Let us know! We would love to hear!

Cheers,

Team Wicanders

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One response

20 12 2008
Laminate Flooring

well some of these stuff are so so green.

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