There’s little doubt these days that being green is increasingly expected.
Businesses and consumers alike want to be good stewards of the environment, to conserve natural resources, to create more healthy indoor environments and to benefit from products that are made to last.
This is particularly true in the carpet industry, where sustainable manufacturing has become the norm and where recent innovations in product development have resulted in flooring products that are more stain resistant, more durable and longer lasting than ever before.
But what exactly makes a carpet product sustainable?
And how can public venues like schools, healthcare facilities, hospitality centers and the like make sure they’re getting what they desire in terms of sustainable attributes, performance and value?
Sustainability starts with the manufacturers, who have been steadfast in reducing their environmental footprint for the past several decades.
From a manufacturing viewpoint, assessing a carpet’s sustainability takes into account a number of the processes and resources used to manufacture that product, said Paul Murray, vice president of sustainability and environmental affairs for Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) member manufacturer Shaw Industries.
Those include, “Stewardship of natural resources such as water; effective management of energy and related carbon emissions; the types of materials used in products and their environmental and human impacts; the ability to recycle products at the end of their useful lives; and a manufacturer’s track record of providing safe conditions for and fair treatment of workers,” Murray says.
Over the past decade, carpet manufacturers have allocated tremendous resources of money and manpower to improve sustainability within their individual companies as well as the industry overall.
They’ve made great strides in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption and reliance on fossil fuels; in some cases substituting renewable energy sources.
And they’ve increased the use of both post-industrial and post-consumer waste materials in carpet production.
According to Murray, transparent manufacturers readily provide this information on their websites — in the form of a company’s annual Sustainability Report or eco-specs available per product.
In addition, there are third-party certifications, such as CRI’s Green Label Plus Indoor Air Quality standard and ANSI/NSF 140 Sustainability Assessment for Carpet, that can be used to evaluate one or more aspects of a product’s sustainability.
Sustainability also has a great deal to do with purchasing a product that is durable and will perform well for years to come.
A carpet that performs as needed throughout its intended use cycle is a decision that facility managers and building owners can feel good about.
As a purchaser, getting the most bang for your buck when choosing carpet really boils down to three things:
- Selecting the right carpet for the right space
- Installing that carpet properly and efficiently
- Maintaining that carpet via regular and specialized cleaning and maintenance over its lifecycle.