Resilient story gets a lot greener, NSF 332 will be a game changer

July 13, 2010

It goes by the unassuming acronym ANSI/NSF 332, but for resilient flooring manufacturers this new certification standard for sustainability is a potential game-changer. “NSF-332 may change the industry in that it will no longer call for simply the product itself to meet certain standards but will widen the scope to include all the processes and practices involved in bringing a product to market and seeing it through its lifecycle,” said Diane Martel, Tarkett’s newly appointed vice president of environmental planning and strategy.

In a market inundated with green claims, this new certification offers buyers of resilient flooring a high level of confidence and credibility, according to executives like Dominic Rice, vice president of sales and marketing for Armstrong Commercial Flooring. “The ultimate goal of this standard is to establish a consistent, measurable and uniform approach to the evaluation of sustainable resilient floor coverings. “The industry has been at the forefront of environmental stewardship, and this is the next step. We hope it will clarify resilient’s inherent environmental attributes as well as encouage higher levels of sustainable manufacturing.”

Dean Thompson, president of the Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI), said the market has been begging for simplicity, and this standard delivers that. “Architects, design firms are all in a state of confusion because of the influx of all these green labels. ANSI/NSF 332 brings clarity to this issue and will allow specifiers and purchasers to make better decisions when selecting resilient flooring.”

NSF 332 uses a point-based system to determine levels of certification. The four are con- formant, silver, gold and platinum, with conformant at the entry-level stage and platinum the most rigorous. Products are evaluated against the standard using five key criteria: 1) product design, 2) product manufacturing, 3) long-term value, 4) corporate governance and 5) innovation.

Jane Wilson, director of standards, 332, said the new certification would allow mills to distinguish their products from competitors while at the same time demonstrate a commitment to sustainability.

RFCI’s Thompson said “this third-party, consensus-based, multi-process approach is true environmental thinking,” ad- ding, “these standards have a range of ratings that allow mills to continually improve.”

Mannington Commercial was the first company certified to NSF’s new standard. Three premium tile and seven sheet products received the gold certification.

“One of the benefits of 332 is that everything is measurable, documented and proven,” said Dave Kitts, Mannington’s vice president of environment.

Several other resilient companies are in the process of get- ting products certified or working toward that eventuality.

Tarkett, for example, has one product in the NSF-332 process and another to be submitted in August. “We will be looking to use NSF-332 for other lines as well,” Martel said. “Certifying products through a third party such as this corroborates our commitment to sustainability.”

None of Armstrong’s products have gone through the process yet, but Rice said the goal “is to work through our lines to access against the standards, beginning with our bio-based tile and linoleum products.”

He added it is important to remember the definition of environmental “differs from end user to end user.” For example, Armstrong has a range of products, from its Migrations BBT, a bio-based content targeting the higher end VCT market, to linoleum and VCT, all of which have environmental attributes, at varying price points to fit the objectives of any project. “Some are low maintenance, many have extremely long life cycles; some contain rapidly renewable ingredients and all are independently certified for low VOCs,” Rice said.

Roppe launched its new Impact rubber-recycling program at NeoCon in June. Rubber flooring is reclaimed at the jobsite, palletized and sent to a recycling center. In the past, rubber products with adhesive were not able to be recycled, but a new proprietary process alleviates this problem. Roppe said the rubber is recycled into such products as municipal landscaping mulches, playground surfacing and rubber crumb for athletic fields.

For the last two years, Azrock tiles have included pre-consumer recycled content. Its Achieve and Advance tiles contain up to 25% and the company is increasing recycled material in its VCT products. Azrock also is partnering with Reliant Energy and the Texas Renewable Energy Credit Program to harness wind power. The company estimates that it offsets nearly 8,504 tons of carbon dioxide emissions every three years through its wind power pro- gram. All Azrock plants have reduced energy consumption by as much as 20% and are working toward ISO 14000 certification.

-Ken Ryan

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