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Climate–friendly flooring – Green Flooring

As hard as it may be to believe, climate and many flooring materials share an intimate relationship. This is because climate plays a significant role when it comes to plant and tree growth. Even a slight change in climate can have a negative affect on natural resources commonly used to make flooring such as hardwood, linoleum and bamboo.

Green Climate–Friendly Floor Types

Many "green" or eco–friendly floors are designed with recyclable and/or biodegradable materials and are built to last for a long time. Read about some flooring that's both climate– and eco–friendly below and decide which one is the right fit for your home.

Linoleum Flooring

Green Flooring Option -

Linoleum is made almost entirely of biodegradable and sustainable* materials. It is one of the few floor types which can be easily recycled and used to make new flooring. Linoleum is also resilient and can withstand changes in humidity with less wear than other floors that are also made from natural materials. Resistant to water (when properly sealed), linoleum can be a suitable floor surface for most rooms, including bathrooms and kitchens.

*Sustainable products are made from renewable materials and generally designed to last for a long time (or for as long as materials will permit).

Cork Flooring

Green Flooring Option - Cork

When properly installed and sealed, cork flooring can perform well in most rooms and climates. Cork is made from the bark of cork oak trees which grow natively in Asia and Europe. The average cork oak tree lives for 200 years and the bark can be harvested up to 20 times during its life without harming the environment.

According to the World Wildlife Foundation, cork plays a valuable role in maintaining a balanced ecosystem for almost 200 plant and bird species. Presently, cork oak trees cover approximately 6.5 million acres around the world, mostly in the Mediterranean region. In addition, cork oak trees have a unique cellular composition which allows them to store CO2. These factors make cork a valuable part of the planet's ecosystem.

Since cork is essentially a wood, standing water and changes in humidity may cause floors to expand or shrink. If you live in an area with extreme humidity, consider purchasing a humidifier (for low humidity) or a dehumidifier (for high humidity). Maintain an indoor temperature between 35–65% to help increase the longevity and performance of your cork floors.

Bamboo Flooring

Green Flooring Option -

Compared to other natural resources used in floor production (such as wood), bamboo grows at a very rapid rate. In fact, bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants known to man – some types can grow 4 feet a day! Contrary to common belief, bamboo is actually a grass that can renew itself so long as its root network (located deep in the soil) remains undisturbed. Bamboo is harvested every 5–7 years or after the shoot reaches maturity.

Bamboo helps counter global warming and water pollution by absorbing nitrogen. Since bamboo is a highly–resilient plant, it can thrive in most habitats and extreme conditions. Studies have shown that bamboo can produce up to 35% more oxygen than any other tree species in the world. Experts believe these characteristics make bamboo one of the most valuable plants in regard to reducing carbon emissions and global warming.

Certain types of bamboo floor, such as strand woven bamboo flooring, are comparable in strength to many of the hardest hardwood floor types. Made by compressing thin bamboo strips and resin together under high heat and pressure, strand woven bamboo flooring can withstand a variety of climates with little wear. Nevertheless, changes in humidity may still cause damage. Enhance your bamboo floor's performance by using a humidifier (for low humidity or dry climates) or a dehumidifier (for high humidity areas). Keep indoor humidity levels between 40–60%.

Greenhouse Gases

Green House Gases

One major contributor to climate change is an increase in greenhouse gasses. Greenhouse gasses are present in the Earth's atmosphere and are essential in stabilizing temperature on a global level. While moderate levels of greenhouse gases are necessary to keep Earth's surface from becoming insufferably cold, an excess amount could raise the planet's temperature to fatal levels.

Cause and Effect of Greenhouse Gassing

UN Food and Agriculture Organization

Some things that contribute to greenhouse gassing include: the burning of fossil fuels and plant fertilizers and deforestation. According to a 2007 report done by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the world lost approximately 3% of all forest between the years of 1990–2005. This is roughly 32 million acres depleted on an annual basis. These losses account for almost 30% of all greenhouse gases which are emitted into the atmosphere every year.

Trees and Plants Play an Important Role

Tree and plant species are vital when it comes to balancing the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. They are responsible for capturing CO2 through plant cells, and in turn, releasing oxygen.

The Union of Concerned Scientists, a non–profit organization based in the United States, has deduced that U.S. forests are responsible for absorbing 1 to 3 million metric tons of CO2 every year. Since preservation of these forests has become essential for sustaining present and future life, reducing deforestation has become a high priority for many companies worldwide.

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