Green Interiors: Walking on Clean Air

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Green Interiors: Walking on Clean Air

It is estimated that 30 to 40 percent of all pollutants are brought into our homes on shoes, clothing, and pets. That’s a lot of trash! Some things door mats just cannot catch. But what about the items we don’t bring in?

What about the materials we choose to place permanently in our homes? Flooring is a leading cause of indoor pollutants. Below are a few sustainable flooring options that can help keep your home clean! 

Nothing is more important than your home’s indoor air quality, especially when considering we spend approximately 90 percent of our time indoors. You may not think of indoor air quality when you think of your flooring. But the choices you make for your flooring can greatly affect the air you breathe. In 1992 the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) created a green labeling program for the testing of carpet, carpet pads, and the adhesives used during installation. This helps designers and consumers to easily identify products that meet criteria for low emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). This ensures that carpet industry leaders are committed to producing products that create a better environment and better indoor air quality. 

Most homes in Nashville have hardwood floors. No doubt hardwood flooring is beautiful, durable, and aesthetically a great choice for flooring. But what you may not consider are the toxic contaminants that come along with hardwoods. Some of the VOCs that are included in wood finishing products are formaldehyde, toulen, benzene, and arsenic. All of these materials will off-gas at normal room temperature and can off-gas for months, even years! Some of these VOCs—formaldehyde and benzene—are known carcinogens. It is best to make sure all materials used on or under your hardwoods contain the lowest VOCs possible. 

Recently introduced (November 2013) is Lauzon’s Pure Genius wood floor. This hardwood receives a titanium finish that acts as an air-purifying agent. The agent is activated by artificial and natural light and breaks down toxic contaminants in your home, purifying the air. In addition to breaking down VOCs, it breaks down viruses, mold, and bacteria. This reduces any potential carcinogens in your home that may contribute to allergies and respiratory illnesses. Also, it helps minimize odors common in homes such as smells from pets or cooking. This finish is highly resistant and washable and has a 30-35 year guarantee.

Last but not least is cork flooring. Nothing will warm up a room and add extra coziness more than cork flooring. Stable and renewable, cork can be harvested every 8-10 years. Not only is it warm to the touch, but it is beautiful and lightweight. And it gets better—it’s hypoallergenic (it naturally contains no VOCs) and is fire and insect-resistant. Many manufacturers now offer cork as engineered panels that snap together eliminating the use of glue or adhesives. These floating floor systems can be installed over concrete, subfloors or even existing floors.

Next time you think of new flooring, give some thought to your indoor air quality. With just a few small changes, the choices you make can help you control your indoor air quality, and help it keep improving as well!—By Jennefer Guthrie 

Editor’s Note: Jennefer Guthrie is a LEED accredited professional and a member of Middle Tennessee Chapter of USGBC (United States Green Building Council).Beth Haley Design, an urban interior design firm, focuses on remodeling and revitalizing established homes, as well as creating stimulating, functional, sustainable spaces in new homes. Jennefer Guthrie is an allied member of ASID (American Society of Interior Designers). E-mail your questions to her at ngregg@ngregg.com or visit www.bethhaleydesign.com.

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