Greenbuild 2019 showcases sustainable flooring

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Nov. 25/Dec. 2, 2019: Volume 35, Issue 11

By Megan Salzano


Amy Costello, Armstrong’s sustainability manager, illustrates the six pillars of sustainability.

Atlanta—Known for showcasing the latest trends and technologies shaping the development of green buildings, cities and communities, the 2019 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, held here Nov. 19-22 at the LEED Gold Georgia World Congress Center, brought professionals in architecture, construction, engineering, planning and interior design to mingle with 300 exhibitors from across the green building sector. Those exhibitors showcased leading products for the sustainable building industry, including new developments in flooring.

“The Greenbuild experience is an opportunity to bring leaders together to share and explore new ways sustainable design, construction and operations can improve our quality of life,” said Kim Heavner, vice president of conferences and events at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). “At this year’s conference, attendees, exhibitors and speakers will play an important role in shaping the future of green buildings, cities and communities.”

Flooring’s part in the sustainability story of the future is vast and everlasting, and this year’s flooring exhibitors came to the show with that notion in mind. Mohawk Industries, for example, framed its presence around the overarching theme of “Sustainability is Second Nature,” which was designed to drive home the manufacturer’s total commitment to creating a “believe in better” culture across all divisions.

“We’re looking at the holisticness of sustainability; not just the individuality of the components,” George Bandy Jr., Mohawk’s chief sustainability officer, told FCNews. “We’re trying to create more transparency, more Declare labels and more information that will make things easier for our customers to understand. We don’t want to make this complex. We want to be inclusive because we have an opportunity to influence consumers. We’re looking at both sides of the fence—commercial and residential—and coming up with solutions that make a lot of sense for Mohawk. That’s what makes Mohawk a little bit different. It’s not ‘and/or,’ it’s a combination of everything in that particular process.”

Mohawk products featured at this year’s expo were focused on both social and environmental sustainability. The company showed Owls, designed by Jason McLennan in collaboration with Mohawk Group. The line is designed to capture the essence of the North American birds of prey through color and patterning. This biophilic commercial carpet plank offers two, 12 x 36-inch patterns inspired by the mottled shades of black, brown, tan and gray in the plumage of owls as they lift into the air. Owls meets the requirements of Living Product Petal Certification and is produced in Glasgow, Va., at Mohawk Group’s Living Site.

The company also featured Air.o, a hypoallergenic Unified Soft Flooring (USF) that is completely recyclable at the end of its life; Relaxing Floors, a 12 x 36-inch carpet plank collection designed by 13&9 in collaboration with Fractals Research and Mohawk Group based on fractal patterning found in nature; and EverStrand, which is created through Continuum—a process that allows Mohawk to recycle reclaimed PET plastic bottles into the polyester fiber used to produce soft and durable residential carpet.

Shaw Industries highlighted the sustainability focuses of the company’s Patcraft, Shaw Contract and Shaw Floors Builder Group brands. It brought to the forefront best practices and lessons learned in specific sectors—including affordable housing, healthcare, multi-family and residential housing. “Our real focus as a brand is how our products and processes impact people,” Susan Farris, vice president sustainability and corporate communications, told FCNews. “And we are focusing on material health, healthcare, healthy acoustics and an apartment of the future. Understanding across a broad sector—from commercial through multi-family and builder—how our products and processes impact people and how we can connect those.”

In terms of product, the company unveiled a test installation of a new trade show carpet product: Comfor3t. Made with 60%-80% recycled content (depending on the color), the company said Comfor3t reduces the use of virgin materials by possessing the ability to incorporate both post-consumer and post-industrial recycled content. The product can be reused multiple times, and once it’s ready for replacement it is 100% recyclable. It is Cradle to Cradle Certified Bronze having been assessed for material health, material reuse, renewable energy/carbon management, water stewardship and social fairness. It will officially launch in 2020.

The conference also provided an opportunity for various Shaw brands to showcase their sustainability efforts, including Shaw Contract’s 2 Degrees sustainability journal; Patcraft’s sustainability-themed Idea Book; and Healthy Home market insights from the Shaw Floors team. For the third year in a row, Shaw also hosted an Education Lab as part of the annual conference and expo. Shaw offered five CEU-credit approved education sessions in its Education Lab. The sold-out sessions provided fresh thinking and continuing education opportunities for nearly 500 participants.

Mohawk’s Owls commercial carpet plank points to biophilia with its mottled shades of black, brown, tan and gray in the plumage of owls as they lift into the air.

Armstrong Flooring took to the event to discuss its products’ relationship to what it calls the “six pillars of sustainable flooring.” Those pillars include bio- philia, lighting, acoustics, indoor air quality, life-cycle thinking and safety. “We have also launched HPD’s for all our commercial products that are available,” Amy Costello, Armstrong’s sustainability manager, told FCNews. “That’s a look at our contribution from more of a technical standpoint, but we’ve listened to our customers and we’ve joined the HPD collaboration. We’re also doing our second-generation environmental product declarations. We’re really looking at those environmental impacts and using that to guide product development.”

The company showcased three new products on the show floor. Rejuvenations Restore, for example, is a vinyl sheet flooring constructed with a comfort base layer to help reduce foot and leg fatigue and joint impact. It was designed for healthcare facilities where caregivers spend long shifts on their feet. Restore is also said to help control sound transmission and surface-generated noise to maintain privacy and create a soothing space.

The company also featured BBT, its PVC-free, bio-based flooring. BBT is made primarily of locally quarried limestone as well as rapidly renewable plant ingredients. Its sustainability attributes are further enhanced with the addition of Diamond 10 Technology coating, which allows for a significant reduction in maintenance compared to the traditional VCT polishing regimen. This is said to lead to as much as a 50% carbon footprint reduction over the life of a building. The company’s Safety Zone Sheet and Tile, which provides enhanced traction for an added measure of safety in healthcare, educational and retail facilities, was also showcased.

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