Floor Tech Group’s sales associate and Green Operations author, Rick Gregory, discusses the ever-shrinking face weights of carpet and how to measure the phenomena.
In 1989, Amory Lovins, Harvard and Oxford-educated experimental physicist, and CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute coined the term “negawatt” in his keynote address to the Montreal Green Energy Conference. His value proposition here was that it is always cheaper to save electricity that might have been sold for use in less efficient consumption vehicles (lighting, motors, etc.) than to make new. He illustrated this by describing a 14 watt compact bulb replacing a 75 watt bulb, effectively creating a 61 negawatt transaction; 61 unused watts = 61 negawatts.
So what does this have to do with flooring? In Dr. Lovins’ address on electricity and lighting, the focus was (and remains) on efficiency. So it is today in carpet. Many manufacturers have moved in the direction of creating “negafiber” constructions, where the engineering of the product requires less energy-expensive-petroleum-based nylon. Whether it’s 6,0 or 6,6 nylon isn’t at issue. What counts is how much of it you need, in a critically engineered construction, to make the carpet perform to clients’ expectations.
In the last 5 – 10 years, we’ve seen face weights go from the mid-20’s (ounces) to the low teens! The mills pioneering these marvelous products, particularly Tandus, InterfaceFlor and Shaw, have been able to reduce face yarn weights to as low as 12 or 14 ounces, without sacrificing performance; in some cases the appearance retention ratings actually increase! There’s less yarn to crush and clean, so the carpet looks good longer and costs less to maintain. Thus, replacing a 26 oz face weight with a 14 oz face weight = 12 unused ounces = 12 negafibers. That’s a 46% decrease in fiber required – and a 46% increase in energy savings!
Are you an energy-conscious specifier? Try asking for “negafiber” carpet! (You might have to explain what you mean)