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Green Flooring – Concrete floors

Concrete Flooring

Green Flooring - Concrete

On the green–er side of concrete, it's often made and sourced locally, can last for a long time (which can help minimize waste), has a thermally stable surface, and can be recycled. On the other hand, the sourcing and manufacturing of the materials demands an enormous amount of energy. There is also speculation that only 5 percent of total concrete made is actually recycled. On the whole, concrete is not very green until it's installed.

Concrete is generally manufactured locally, can be made from recycled materials, and can outlast most floor types on the market (when properly cared for). Compared to hardwood and carpet, concrete flooring is believed to be more energy efficient as it has a thermally stable surface. In other words, it's slow to cool off and heat up.

Pros

  • Economically advantageous as the cost and need for repair tends to be significantly less than flooring such as carpet and hardwood
  • Often made locally
  • Thermally stable surface can help with heating and cooling costs
  • Concrete helps reduce the consumption of raw materials as it can be made with waste by–products (from steel mills and power plants)
  • Over the last 30 years, concrete manufacturers have reduced their carbon output by 33 percent. Today, concrete manufacturing accounts for a little more than 1 percent of total U.S. carbon emissions
  • The National Concrete Masonry Association is helping reduce concrete waste by developing reusable concrete and cement blocks
  • Fly ash can be substituted for up to 35 percent of cement used in concrete mix. Fly ash is a by–product of coal–fired power plants and helps to reduce overall energy use and solid waste problems

Cons

  • Cement accounts for approximately 12 percent of concrete, and involves one of the most energy–intensive manufacturing processes on the planet. Many cement plants rely on coal, which yields a high level of sulphur and carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution
  • Only 5 percent of manufactured concrete is currently recycled

Green Flooring Tips – Concrete

  • Purchase concrete flooring that's manufactured using waste fuels (e.g. scrap tires, paint residue, motor oil) instead of coal
  • Avoid concrete flooring that contains melamine resin*

*Melamine resin is an organic substance that's commonly associated with eye and skin irritation, kidney stones, reproductive problems, cancer and even death. These symptoms can occur as a result of contact with melamine through inhalation or ingestion.


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