“Consumers and designers are so in tune with sustainability more so than ever before. They just assume that products will have that aspect in their characteristic so I think it’s a necessary ingredient,” says Emily Morrow, director of color, style, and design of Shaw flooring.
It was 1999 when Shaw introduced its first cradle-to-cradle carpet tile; four years later the company won the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award, and earlier this year it began the “Anso? Hope So” campaign which focuses on the cleanability and durability of its carpet.
Shaw’s Anso brand uses nylon 6 carpet fibers that can be fully recycled back into new carpet. It’s the only nylon product in the industry with post-consumer recycled content, and with a price point of $3 to $4 per square foot, this carpeting is easily accessible at any budget.
With homeowners spending 90 percent of their time indoors, natural flooring options are not only better for the environment, but for indoor air quality as well.
“It really is about our well being,” says Kate Dayton, owner of Green Courage, an ecofriendly home design center in New Paltz. Her favorite flooring product on the market right now is cork, and working with a company like Globus Cork that colors and finishes its materials in the Bronx is an added incentive for her. “Supporting your local economy is a very important element to all of this,” Dayton says.
Cork is one of the hottest flooring options to hit the market because of its softness and durability. The material used for this ecofriendly flooring is bark that naturally sheds every nine to 15 years. The trees can live for up to 500 years. It’s hypoallergenic, resistant to mold and mildew, a great acoustic absorber, and is reasonably priced between $5.25 and $7.95 per square foot. However, despite the low maintenance associated with cork, it does have its fair share of pitfalls.
Denting can happen if heavy objects are placed or fall onto the surface and sustainable architect Diane Neff prefers not to use cork in wet locations such as kitchens or bathrooms. “Manufacturers say you can put [cork] in these places, but I personally worry about moisture,” she relates.
Neff prefers to go a traditional route in these rooms and use stone, tile, or woodwork. A lot of her clients use tile because they prefer to install radiant heat, which works well under this flooring option. She uses tile in bathrooms, kitchens, and entrance areas because of its longevity. She often works with Ann Sacks, a company that supplies tile with recycled content. Tile is typically more expensive than most flooring products, but pays off in the long run, Neff says. “One of the worst things you can do ecologically is put something in your house that needs to be replaced in a couple of years. When using stone or tile, it’s going to be in there for a long time,” Neff says.
Another option that Neff says works well in a home is Marmoleum. Although linoleum is associated with older homes, this modern ecofriendly version is family and pet friendly, and has recently become a good alternative for families with allergies. Forbo’s Marmoleum line is currently the only flooring product on the market that has received asthma & allergy friendly certification from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Marmoleum is an all-natural product that is VOC free, soft on your feet, durable, and an easy to clean option for any room in a home.
“It’s a very environmentally friendly product that promotes good indoor air quality,” says Scott Day, marketing and communications manager of Forbo. Although this product has been in the Forbo family for quite some time, Day says it is now paying off because so many people are looking for healthy and natural flooring options. With more than 200 colors available, this natural product is made from rapidly renewable materials and ranges from $7 to $9 per square foot, depending on the product line.
Marmoleum is selling better than ever at Green Conscience Home & Design, a boutique in Saratoga Springs, says owner Karen Totino. “We definitely see a lot of interest in it because it has become more mainstream and is often talked about on DIY television shows,” she says. Totino recommends this product for kitchens, bedrooms, mudrooms, and utility rooms because of its low maintenance.
Marmoleum may be a room-specific option, and Totino believes that a hard surface such as wood flooring may be the best option to use throughout the home. She is a distributor of Pioneer Millworks flooring and swears by that company’s quality. “Not only are they selling a sustainable product, but their practices as a company set them apart from others,” Totino says.
Pioneer Millworks sells FSC certified recycled product that is 100 percent post-consumer material. All the wood has been salvaged from barns, industrial buildings, wine barrels, water tanks, and material that would otherwise wind up in a landfill. “We go the extra mile when it comes to walking the walk of environmentalism,” says Jered Slusser, a wood expert for Pioneer Millworks. Pioneer’s shop is heated by wood waste, and its office uses very efficient hydronic heating.
Pioneer has been in business for two decades and works with about 25 different species of wood each day. A flooring selector on its website helps homeowners decide which flooring option will work best for them. The company’s products are formaldehyde free, readily available, and can be produced usually within three weeks, the company says. Pricing can run anywhere from $3.75 to $25 per square foot, depending on the rarity of the wood, and people are often surprised to find that this antique wood is produced right here in New York.
“Seeing that green and sustainable living and sustainable construction is really becoming such a trend these days, everybody wants something that is greener; everybody wants some that has a story to it,” Slusser says.
Resource List Ann Sacks New York; (201) 529-2800; annsacks.com Antique & Vintage Woods Pine Plains; (518) 398-0049; antiqueandvintagewoods.com Carol DeBear Scarsdale; (914) 725-2385; debeardesign.com Country Road Associates Millbrook; (845) 677-6041; countryroadassociates.com Diane Neff Larchmont; (917) 880-9517; dneffarch.com Forbo Hazleton, PA; (570) 459-0771; forbo.com Ghent Wood Products Ghent; (518) 828-5684; ghentwoodproducts.com Globus Cork Bronx; (718) 742-7264; corkfloor.com Green Conscience Home & Garden Saratoga Springs; (518) 306-5196; green-conscience.com Green Courage LLC New Paltz; (845) 255-8731; greencourage.com Nyack Wide Plank Flooring Nyack; (888) NYACK FLOORS nyackwideplankflooring.com Pioneer Millworks Farmington; (585) 924-9970; pioneermillworks.com Shaw Floors Dalton, GA; (706) 278-3812; shawfloors.com “Unity” Surfacing Systems Hicksville; (516) 933-3238; surfacingsystems.com Warm Floors Napa, CA; (800) 542-9276; warmfloors.com