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National Restaurant Association - Green flooring shows smaller carbon footprints

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Green flooring shows smaller carbon footprints

Restaurants are getting more traction in their sustainability efforts by reconsidering what they put on the floor.

Demand from the commercial sector has greatly expanded the array of eco-friendly floor coverings available today, says Chris Davis, CEO, World Floor Covering Association. Some options might surprise restaurateurs. No longer are green possibilities limited to natural materials like bamboo, stone or wood.

“Certain carpets are recyclable, certain carpet fibers are recyclable, and then there are carpets made from recycled materials,” he says. “If you consider the overall lifespan of the product, vinyl is very green because of its durability.”

Rising supply has brought the price of green flooring in line with the cost of conventional commercial options, so budgets needn’t be adjusted, Davis says. Nor do restaurateurs have to temper aesthetic or durability considerations, he stresses.

“It’s really a matter of what you like in terms of looks, and what the needs are for your type of establishment,” Davis says.

He offered these tips for restaurateurs who want their floor literally to be the foundation of a sustainability effort:

Gauge the true carbon footprint by investigating not only what went into making the flooring material, but also what went into getting it to the site. Bamboo is extremely sustainable, but it has to be shipped from China, and it's often laminated to another material.

Know what maintenance is required. Stone wears ... well, like a rock, but some types require annual treatment. A few surfaces require special equipment.

If you work with a designer, make sure he or she notes your expectations for durability and performance. How long do you need it to last? What kind of traffic and spills will it get?

See and feel the material before you buy. A picture or computer image might not give a true sense. 

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