On the Floor

 SUSTAINABLEPolymer flooring can provide an attractive, sustainable option.   

By Sophia Daukus 

The quest for a genuinely eco-friendly flooring system demands a full evaluation of how the product is manufactured, end-of-lifecycle disposal, VOC content, water use, sanitation, the specific needs of the facility in various areas durability and the final cost. Facility managers who are seeking an environmentally-safe option to achieve LEED certification can achieve these goals by evaluating the range of polymer flooring systems available.

In searching for the right flooring option to sustainability standards, one point to evaluate is whether the raw materials used are provided in recyclable, decomposable or otherwise safe, eco-friendly containers, and whether the product manufacturer has a commitment to using the least possible packing and shipping materials. The manufacturers of polymer flooring products can vary in their waste management practices, so demand full disclosure. 

Fluid-applied polymer flooring can be manufactured with recycled materials, reducing the use of mined natural sand or aggregates. Seek out a polymer flooring manufacturer that offers products manufactured with upcycled materials.

LEED Certification

LEED, or “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design,” is the certification process monitored by the U.S. Green Building Council, the most widely used third-party verification for green buildings. LEED buildings use less water and energy, reduce greenhouse gases and emissions, and save money. Whether you are upgrading an existing building or constructing a new facility, a focus on sustainability can drive the decisions of facility managers, who are frequently tasked to meet the standards of basic, silver, gold or platinum LEED certification.

LEED credits also can be earned based upon the composition of the polymer flooring, VOC rating, performance, installation process and even the delivery miles between the manufacturing facility and the flooring project. For LEED credits, sustainability and durability, select a polymer flooring manufacturer that can meet the standards to attain:

  •  Recycled content manufacturing credits;
  • Construction waste management credits;
  • Low-emitting material credits; and
  •  Building re-use credits

When Design Matters

Visual appearance affects both visitors and employees, whether a facility caters to the public or has specific design elements associated with the stresses of various manufacturing processes. Polymer flooring manufacturers and installers that offer advanced design options can create a wide range of visual effects appropriate to a scope of industries and usages.

Facility Manager Concerns

While LEED certification may be a critical issue, facility managers are also concerned with cleanability, cost of installation, lifecycle of the flooring, impact resistance and other needs specific to an industry or operation. Polymer flooring has the advantage of reducing the cost of maintenance over time. With a smooth surface that is virtually free of the seams in which bacteria flourishes, extensive and costly maintenance processes can be avoided. 

Medical research/manufacturing, healthcare and food processing facilities deal with numerous safety and sanitation requirements, including the need to provide secure, clean walking surfaces for employees, staff, patients and visitors. The specific maintenance requirements associated with infection and pathogen control play a big role. Polymer flooring offers powerful advantages for the pharmaceutical, vaccine, biotech, medical device and technology industries, as well as for food and beverage plants and commercial kitchens. 

Heavy-use industries can install exceptionally tough and durable surfaces while still meeting LEED certification requirements by utilizing high-performance polymer coatings. Resinous flooring can be customized to meet stringent industry guidelines, withstand harsh usage, and at the same time, achieve a facility’s aesthetic goals.

Varied Usage Requirements 

Every area of the facility has unique requirements, and polymer flooring provides an exceptional degree of flexibility and customization. Areas of the facility that are subjected to light to moderate foot or cart traffic will not need the same treatment as those with heavy industrial activity such as forklift traffic or the use of corrosive substances. Choose a flooring system and installation method with the versatility to meet the range of needs, while providing a sustainable, green, easy-clean surface that is long-lasting and aesthetically pleasing.

Protecting and Restoring Substrates

Concrete flooring is porous by nature and subject to damage from impact, corrosion, thermal expansion, chemical saturation and a range of other problems. Whether the concrete surface in the facility has been recently installed or is an existing slab, liquid polymer flooring makes it possible to enhance and strengthen the existing substrate. In some cases, utilizing resinous floor resurfacers to restore an older floor can prevent its being destroyed, thus allowing for assignment of LEED building re-use credits.

Minimizing Landfill Waste

Fluid applied flooring avoids the cut-off waste associated with roll, sheet or plank flooring goods. It can be extremely effective for resurfacing and refurbishing existing concrete floors, allowing building owners to avoid slab demolition and replacement. 

This can further reduce landfill waste – and at far lower cost. The product should be carefully selected and have a long lifecycle, so as to best protect the concrete substrate and minimize the need for repair or renovation. Evaluate expected performance and usable life of the polymer flooring products on the market.

Liquid Polymer

Resinous flooring systems can meet environmental standards for a wide range of industries, including food and beverage, healthcare, manufacturing, correctional facilities, educational facilities and countless other industries. Facility managers can evaluate the polymer flooring products available for other advantages, such as advanced aesthetic design, slip-resistance, the ability to withstand exposure to chemicals, heavy loads or abrasion, as well as for antimicrobial, seamless and waterproof qualities. 

Sustainable polymer flooring can offer considerable advantages in cost, long-term performance and visual appeal, worthy of consideration by managers seeking a green option or LEED certification for their facility. 

 

Sophia DaukusSophia Daukus is a business development manager for Florock Polymer Flooring, manufactured by Crawford Laboratories Inc., Chicago. Founded in 1952, Florock offers one of the most complete lines of epoxy flooring and concrete floor coatings on the market with decorative, high performance solutions to address the unique conditions of nearly every application. From manufacturing to food processing, from education to retail and beyond, Florock provides facilities across a broad spectrum of industries with optimal protection and outstanding flooring value.

 

 

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