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.