There’s no doubt there’s a growing realisation of the negative effect consumption patterns are having on the environment and climate. More and more governments, corporations, business owners and individuals are requesting that architects and corporate designers incorporate sustainability into their projects. When choosing materials for an interior fit-out, including flooring, the answers as to which product is the most environmentally friendly can be complicated. For example, there are carpets available that use sustainable yarns such as ECONYL®, which is produced from recycled fishing nets and other waste materials transformed into strong and hard wearing textile flooring.
For a truly sustainable carpet, however, it’s not just the materials that need to be sustainable but the entire manufacturing process.
For a truly sustainable carpet, however, it’s not just the materials that need to be sustainable but the entire manufacturing process. This means it’s necessary to select a carpet supplier with a high level of corporate and environmental responsibility that focuses on environmental policies and practices at every level of the manufacturing process. Here are 11 factors to check and questions to ask your carpet supplier to ensure you are specifying a truly sustainable product:
1. Sustainable development
Does the company follow the principles of sustainable development, as defined in the Brundtland Report published by the United Nations in 1987: “…development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”?
Sustainable development can be broken into three parts:
- Profit – economic development
- Planet – environmental protection
- People – social responsibility
If sustainability is truly important to you and the project, look for companies that view sustainable development as a constant process in which utilisation of resources, management of investments and technological development are in agreement with future as well as current needs.
2. Cradle to Cradle™ practices
Does the carpet company follow Cradle to Cradle Certified™ practices for all stages of the product lifecycle, right up to the return of worn or outdated carpeting and backing and responsible disposal via high-powered incineration?
3. Sustainable raw materials
Does the company provide carpets made from sustainable or recycled raw materials?
4. Energy use
Does the company source its energy from a sustainable source, such as wind power or solar power, throughout all its manufacturing facilities?
5. Documenting environmental claims
Does the carpet supplier have documentation for all environmental claims for its manufacturing processes and products?
6. Waste disposal
Does the company have a policy of responsible disposal of all waste?
7. Greenhouse gas account
Does the company publish a greenhouse gas account that can be accessed? A greenhouse gas account details the company’s total emissions of CO2, calculated in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and World Resources Institute.
8. Environmental management certifications
Is the company certified in accordance with ISO 14001 standards and registered under The Economic Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS)? ISO 14001 specifies requirements for an environmental management system that enables the company to constantly develop and implement policies and objectives that take into account legal requirements and environmental aspects. To receive ISO 14001 certification, a company needs to comply with various demands related to its environmental management system:
- Environmental policy
- Implementation and operation
- Control and corrective actions
- Management review
EMAS is a voluntary based instrument designed to encourage better environmental performance from all types of organisations. It goes further than ISO 14001 in its requirements for performance improvement, employee involvement, legal compliance and communication with stakeholders. EMAS recognises and rewards organisations that go beyond minimum legal compliance and continuously improve their environmental performance. Both these certifications give any supplier you are dealing with a badge of credibility when making claims of environmental performance. EMAS in particular is a clear and verifiable way to identify a company that is committed to improving environmental performance as it provides a systematic framework for setting environmental objective and measuring, monitoring and reporting on performance. By asking the above questions and checking certifications you can be sure that the carpet you are specifying meets the highest possible standards of sustainability.
9. CE (Conformite Europeenne)
This mark ensures that the product meets all demands of the European standards in key areas such as fire safety, health and environment, safety in use, energy savings and thermal insulation.
10. BRE – Environmental carpet profiles
Environmental profiles from BRE Certification Ltd provide a measuring system for the environmental performance of building products, including carpets, and provide life cycle assessment information on the environmental impact associated with the extraction, processing, manufacture, installation, maintenance and disposal of products.
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System is a voluntary building certification program established by the US Green Building Council with the purpose of encouraging and accelerating global adaptation towards sustainable green buildings. The system provides architects, designers and specifiers with a concrete and practical set of design and performance goals, and provides independent thirdparty certification that validates their achievements.
For our next blogpost, we have some design inspiration to you, including some unusual and unexpected ways to use carpet!