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The Best “Green” Flooring Choice in North America

September 2, 2011 2:58 pm    Posted by JGDeZarn    off

I used to work in an office with The Scientist. Not A Scientist, The Scientist. That was his nickname, which he earned by virtue of the way he made decisions: every option was fully analyzed, every possible consequence projected into the future. He spent more time choosing a big-screen TV than most people spend choosing a home. I secretly admired his rigor, but never, ever, ever approached purchases with anything like that degree of discipline. I’m pretty sure this is true for most people. A lot more of us get a quick sense of the options, and we move on to: “Yeah, I get the general picture. That’s all I really need to know.”

When we’re buying flooring, we have some values – things we care about – that help guide us. For a lot of people, sustainability (centered around ecological and environmental health) values are somewhere on that list. But unless you are The Scientist, you may not be sure about the facts and your choices. There have been attempts to give consumers confidence that they are purchasing sustainable flooring – green certifications of various types. FSC certification, from the Forestry Stewardship Council, is supposed to help. But then you might hear some news report that only muddles things further. Take, for example, the recent story about the Gibson Guitar factory in Nashville being raided by the feds, and shut down, for importing non-sustainably sourced tropical wood, except the Gibson people say it is FSC certified…all of which makes my point – either you are The Scientist, or you are confused.

Here is a way to make it very simple, if you care about choosing ecologically responsible flooring:

1.   Choose hardwood. It comes from trees which are renewable natural resources.
2.    Choose a North American hardwood – oak, cherry, maple, ash, hickory. You really should be able to find something you love from that list, and if it is from North America, you can essentially guarantee that it is from a responsibly managed forest.

That’s it. Go to your favorite floor store and tell the sales person you want North American hardwood. Thanks to leadership from market movers like The Home Depot — who put their suppliers on notice that an ecologically responsible chain of custody for wood product is mandatory — reputable companies making wood furniture, cabinets, flooring and other products have put processes and safeguards in place. Something went right, finally. I know this because I work at Armstrong Flooring, and I see the evidence for just how serious the company is about getting this right.