Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Betty floors everyone!!

For the floor

Most builders, architects, designers and homeowners now incorporate sustainable flooring into their home projects, whether it’s for LEED or EarthCraft certification, or simply at the homeowner’s request. Sustainability considerations include use, durability, and aesthetics and your budget. Fortunately, we have many great local options to choose from, living in the heart of Appalachia.

Reclaimed wood is a prime choice. Mountain Lumber Company (founded locally by Willie Drake) carries reclaimed flooring. As for new lumber, the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) label assures conservation of natural resources and fair work conditions. Sustainable Woods only harvests diseased trees from Virginia’s FSC forests (we actually have two FSC-certified forests here), uses animals to pull the trees out, and uses a solar-fired kiln to dry the wood. Other FSC-certified wood floors are an option, but could be coming from Northwest Canada or South America.

Many carpets are now made using recycled products—plastic bottles or cork—or renewables like bamboo. Carpet Plus is the local frontrunner. I recommend asking lots of questions about the materials’ origin and the manufacturing process.

Other options:
Ceramic tile is a durable option, and local manufacturing lessens the embedded energy cost of the product. Linoleum and marmoleum are biodegradable (check for the GreenGuard certification). Concrete floors are hip and definitely long-lasting. They retain cold and heat, which can save on home energy costs. Questions remain about possible pollution in the production process, however.

An expert’s opinion: Charles Hendricks, architect with The Gaines Group and chairman of the Shenandoah Valley Home Builders Green Building Committee, suggests “a sustainably harvested wood floor from Southwest Virginia, with a fallback of a locally harvested wood floor from the Shenandoah Valley.”

I do so like GREEN floors and hope you do too!

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