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Carbon Footprint

Illustration Representing Carbon Foorprint

In terms of green flooring, the carbon footprint includes any carbon–dioxide (CO2) released by machinery during the harvesting and mining of the raw materials, as well as the manufacturing and transportation of the flooring to its destination. Output of toxic air pollutants such as formaldehyde or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) should also be considered as these contribute to global warming as well. Formaldehyde is often found in adhesives and flooring materials, while polyvinyl chloride is used to make vinyl flooring.

The transport of the finished product from its source to the installation site plays an important role in determining the carbon footprint. Bamboo flooring, while made from sustainable and recyclable materials, is often shipped thousands of miles overseas and land to its destination. The process of shipping the final bamboo product could result in a much larger carbon output than concrete that's made locally.

More people are becoming aware of their contribution to global warming. For those who are interested in helping shape a greener world, measuring your carbon footprint is a good place to start. According to the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), a carbon footprint is "a measure of the impact that human activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide."

Why carbon dioxide? CO2 is believed to be a greenhouse gas and one of the main contributors to global warming. You can determine an approximate carbon footprint by taking a life cycle assessment (LCA). According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a life cycle assessment is a "technique that assesses the environmental aspects and potential impacts associated with a product, process or service."

When one considers that flooring constitutes some of the largest surfaces in any building, and that there are an astronomical number of buildings on the planet, it's easy to see how installing green floors makes for a smaller carbon footprint and a healthier environment.