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How to Keep it Green Underfoot

green-grass.jpgOccasionally, I like to invite a guest blogger to share some insights about their field of expertise. Sometimes it’s about San Francisco real estate, and sometimes, it’s just about stuff that San Franciscans care about. Today’s guest blogger is Chris Connors of San Francisco’s Design Solutions, a team of Certified Green Building Professionals. He’s been kind enough to post here before in “How to Save Money by Remodeling Green” But this time, well be discussing some options for green flooring. Read on for Chris’s commentary.
Considering a “Green” Floor? You have lots of choices!
When selecting green flooring, look for Low to No VOC emissions and sustainability. Depending your budget and tastes, there are many choices but here are a few of my favorites right now.
Cork – Far from a being a new green flooring option, people have been installing cork floors for over 100 years! Cork is harvested from the cork oak tree and about every 10 years, the outermost layer of the cork bark is peeled off for manufacture and the tree is left to regenerate.
Cork flooring offers outstanding durability, softness under foot, excellent acoustical properties and you can even get it stained in different colors. One drawback is it is prone to scratching so if you have pets, this needs to be considered.
Reclaimed Timbers – These are generally wood planks recovered from sources like old barns, abandoned schools and mills, warehouses and factories. Depending on the wood species, they are generally harder and richer in grain due to weathering and age than new fast-grown wood.
One drawback is they tend to be pricier than traditional new wood flooring.
FSC-Certified Hardwood – These are wood floor products from forests that are certified as well-managed according to the rules of the Forest Stewardship Council. You can find almost any wood specie FSC-Certified including the popular bamboo and oak. Be careful though when selecting bamboo as some manufacturers use urea-formaldehyde binders which produce off-gas emissions that are a proven carcinogen.
In addition to reclaimed timbers, you might want to consider other non-traditional recycled materials like recycled rubber, glass, ceramic tile as well as recycled carpet.
But just a word of caution – one of the most imporant things to keep in mind when selecting any green flooring, or green product for that matter, is to be sure to do your homework about the products you’re interested. Just because a product seems green, that doesn’t mean it is. Just a quick example – bamboo, a resource that is quickly renewed, may not always be the greenest choice. Some growers clear cut forests filled with mature trees in order to grow bamboo since it’s quite profitable these days.