(Guest Post) Sustainable builds are environmentally sensitive and use less energy. Solar energy is a commonly used strategy for harnessing sunlight to generate electricity, and in some parts of the world, wind power is equally as effective. However, while these strategies are a step in the right direction, designers need to look beyond the obvious and put more effort into using sustainable materials for their architectural projects.
Cork is a sustainable material. It is warm underfoot and nice and soft to stand on, which makes it a popular choice for the modern home. Cork comes from the bark of the cork oak tree. When sourced from a renewable forest, cork is harvested without causing any lasting damage. Cork bark grows back quickly, so it is eco-friendly. The only downside is that it is not as long lasting as some types of flooring.
Bamboo grows incredibly quickly and is regarded as a sustainable building product all over the world. Bamboo forests are fully rejuvenated four years after a harvest so bamboo flooring is eco-friendly and a great alternative to natural hardwood flooring. Bamboo is easy to maintain and can be treated just like timber. The downside to bamboo is that it only grows in certain areas of the world, so importing bamboo to North America generates carbon emissions.
Decomposed Granite Aggregate
Decomposed granite aggregates are a green solution for commercial environments. A range of different materials, including granite, glass, porcelain, asphalt and concrete, are crushed to size and used as a replacement for natural stone. The resultant aggregate can be used to create water permeable pavers and paver grit, which absorb rainfall back into the water table and prevent flooding and runoff. When white quartz, porcelain, and birchwood are used to create a roofing material, energy costs are lowered due to reduced heat absorption.
Recycled glass is an attractive flooring material for commercial and residential environments. Glass comes from local recycling initiatives and can be re-used to make glass tiles. This saves tons of waste glass bottles and jars from ending up in landfill sites. The main disadvantage of using recycled glass tiles is that they can be expensive and tricky to install.
Recycled rubber tires can be repurposed to make rubber matting and tiles for commercial flooring. Rubber has excellent shock absorbency properties, it is water resistant, and it lasts for around 20 years before it needs replacing. Before investing in rubber tiles and matting, make sure you source products made from recycled materials rather than new rubber.
Timber is not eco-friendly unless it comes from sustainable forests. Unfortunately, some hardwood flooring is irresponsibly harvested from forests where trees are not replaced, so it is not an eco-friendly option. One solution is to use reclaimed timber flooring instead of new hardwood. Reuse wood from old buildings or boats. It will look beautiful and be far kinder to the environment than alternate options. Pre-seasoned wood is also less prone to natural movement once installed.
Choose your flooring wisely, as some options are not as eco-friendly as they first appear.
The author wishes to remain anonymous. The siteowner was compensated for one of the links in this article.