Ask the Expert: How to Get Green Flooring in Any Color
An interview with Casey Ball, Global Market Director – Flooring, Food & Beverage and Pharmaceutical, Sherwin-Williams Protective & Marine
Find this article on page 8 of our new custom publication, Market Pulse - Advancements in Coatings Technology, featuring industry trends and thought leadership.
Q. How can resinous flooring systems contribute to green building design?
A. Various flooring options tout a host of environmentally friendly features, including their use of recycled content and sustainable raw materials or lack of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). However, many specifiers may not realize that resinous flooring systems fit into the “green” category – and quite well – despite starting out as a liquid and curing into a solid material. In fact, many resinous flooring systems offer a lower environmental impact compared to carpet, luxury vinyl tile, hardwood and other options based on their Life Cycle Analyses (LCAs). This characteristic is becoming more important as building owners strive to differentiate their properties with greener designs.
Q. How do greener resinous flooring systems perform?
A. Some specifiers may think green floor coatings can’t perform as well as their predecessors in terms of durability, application characteristics and aesthetics. They may reason that removing solvents, for example, would negatively impact performance. This is not true. A great example is today’s water-based flooring systems, which are performing just as well – if not better – than solvent-based systems, while reducing VOCs and enabling easier applications, faster returns to service and long-term performance.
In the quest for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) status, the focus is on maximizing points. Surprisingly, the selection of resinous flooring systems can help contribute to up to five LEED v4.1 points – or 12.5% of the necessary 40 points for baseline LEED certification for commercial spaces.
Q. What advancements are making floor coatings greener?
A. Removing solvent emissions while maintaining extended performance is key. For example, water-based and other low- or no-VOC floor coatings help improve indoor air quality and can enable flooring installations in occupied spaces with minimal to no containment and filtration. Such formulations exhibit low life cycle costs due to their long-term durability. The longer the floor lasts, the lower its potential LCA based on the waste reductions from not having to remove the old material and the energy and environmental savings realized by not needing to manufacture, package, ship and pour new product.
Q. Can flooring help a building achieve LEED® status?
A. In the quest for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) status, the focus is on maximizing points. Surprisingly, the selection of resinous flooring systems can help contribute to up to five LEED v4.1 points – or 12.5% of the necessary 40 points for baseline LEED certification for commercial spaces. The rules are too detailed to describe here, but stakeholders should work with suppliers to carefully specify flooring systems to take advantage of the significant potential gains toward LEED certification.
Q. Can specifiers further enhance sustainability in their flooring selections?
A. LEED qualifications are helpful in taking a big step toward greener flooring specifications. However, all flooring options that meet certain qualifications have the same potential LEED point eligibility. There are no bonus points for using greener products. Yet, specifiers can take that step on their own by looking deeper into the makeup of each option. For example, details available in Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) from manufacturers can help specifiers determine which among many flooring options offers the lowest environmental impact based on its LCA. Choosing the greenest options can be a point of pride for specifiers and a marketing opportunity for building owners by going above and beyond LEED.
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