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Build Green: Sustainable Flooring That Doesn’t Break Budgets or Sacrifice Design

Build Green: Sustainable Flooring That Doesn’t Break Budgets or Sacrifice Design

In today’s world the demand for green building materials is high. Whether designed to eliminate the build-up of waste sent to landfill sites, harvested in a sustainable way or made from renewable resources using natural technologies, architects, building owners and specifiers are constantly analysing the tangible environmental and lifecycle benefits that materials can bring to their construction projects.

Although it is often forgotten, the floor is the second largest component of any interior design scheme and after walls offers the greatest platform to install sustainable and environmentally sound materials.

Environmental developments in the resin flooring industry have rocketed over the past decade. No longer is resin flooring about harmful solvents, hazardous chemicals and wasteful manufacturing processes. Today we are developing floors made from water-based formulations, with energy-saving properties or containing large quantities of recycled or reclaimed materials.

The importance of using environmentally friendly materials was exemplified in the 2011 McGraw Hill Construction report, which estimated that by 2015 40-48% of new non-residential constructions by value will be green. With 2015 just around the corner – are we any any closer to that goal?

The report also cited that LEED is referenced in project specifications for 71% of projects valued at $50 million and over. Most credible resin flooring manufacturers are designing floor systems that pro-actively help architects, specification professionals and developers to construct buildings that meet LEED standards.

I know first-hand that the team at Flowcrete Americas have worked hard in the lab to develop chemistries that restrict the use of toxic components in our products. This has been achieved in part through utilizing water-based and solvent-free formulations that reduce the emission of harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the atmosphere.

In addition, following the Environmental Protection Agency’s concerns about the hazardous effects of certain substances to the human health all of our cementitious urethane systems are completely phthalate free and epoxies are nonyl phenol free.

This commitment to minimizing the environmental damage of the construction industry extends throughout Flowcrete Americas manufacturing processes, for example by implementing practices that reduce the amount of packaging waste. We’ve put in place a Smart Packaging initiative, which aims to prevent over 1 ton of non-recyclable plastic containers from being sent to landfill over each 50,000 sq. ft. floor installation area.

But what about cost? Are we paying a Green premium? Environmentally friendly doesn’t mean more expensive. In fact, often the client will achieve greater cost-savings from the improved efficiency of eco-accredited systems. For Flowcrete’s customers this means a cost reduction per unit manufactured and transported thanks to the streamlined packaging process.

On top of this, many of our polymer floor surfaces are extremely durable, ensuring a strong permanent bond to the substrate that can remain as good as new in excess of 20 years with correct maintenance. This in turn reduces the environmental and financial impacts of frequent repairs or early renovations, which are commonplace with shorter lifecycle products such as tiles, vinyl or carpet.

One of the greatest elements of resin or polymer flooring and one of the reasons many architects prefer this type of flooring in commercial venues such as airports, malls, schools, colleges – even hospitals – is its design potential. These systems can be installed in complicated and intricate patterns, manufactured in virtually any color way or using a hand-picked quartz aggregate or flake blend to create stunning surfaces that won’t go unnoticed.

You can find out more about Flowcrete’s environmental systems, initiative and policies by visiting or downloading our latest White Paper ‘Obtaining LEED Certification with Environmentally Friendly Flooring Solutions’.

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Mike Dzialo

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