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Flooring retailers and distributors see roadblock in FSC certification requirement Flooring retailers and distributors -- who have learned they must have Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification in order to sell FSC-certified products that count as certified wood under the U.S. Green Building Council’s rules -- are questioning whether FSC rules have gone too far. FSC certification is the hallmark of sustainably harvested wood. While it is the only certification accepted for certified wood by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in awarding credit under its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, the USGBC acknowledges that it has not strictly enforced certification requirements on retailers. Flooring manufacturers who produce certified products have FSC certification and must package and clearly label FSC-certified products. Some retailers who then sell those products argue that they are not repackaging or altering the materials, and should not have to pay to get certified. Depending on sales volume, a wholesale flooring distributor or retailer can expect to pay $2,000 and up annually for achieving and maintaining certification. “Does it pencil out to become certified?,” asks Mark Thompson, sales manager for Major Brands Floor Supply /Abbey Carpet & Floor of Seattle. “Is it something that will drive business toward me? If the certification is so watered-down that every other store down the street is certified, then what goal was achieved? Some Eco-capitalist got more chumps to buy into his ‘label.’”

DuChateau strives for vinyl flooring that is better for people and planet More mainstream flooring manufacturers are paying attention to the growing controversy over phthalates – a plasticizer – in vinyl flooring, even though studies suggesting a link between phthalates and lowered IQ, endocrine problems and respiratory ailments have been dismissed as independent and fringe. DuChateau Floors is now making vinyl without phthalates, though the product’s backing, made using recycled content, still may contain trace amounts because old product is recycled by the company. This switch by DuChateau follows the introduction by competitor Tarkett of its “phthalate-free except for recycled content” vinyl flooring earlier this year. “Only a very small portion of phthalate-containing plasticizer can be detected from the recycled bottom layer,” says Don Bufalini, western regional sales manager for DuChateau Floors.  “The tile should not really be affected by the phthalates if they are in the bottom layer.”

Demand is growing, and it’s readily available at a flooring store near you It’s a fact: Reclaimed hardwood is now mainstream. You don’t have to search it out through a specialty retailer. Just ask Ben Cochran, whose northwest Virginia company has been making floors from deconstructed buildings since 1978. “Everything we use in our reclaimed products is structurally salvaged from barns, factories and other buildings that are being removed to make way for new developments,” says Cochran, outside sales manager for the company his father started. “It’s been that way for more than 25 years.” Cochran Lumber’s flooring is one of four reclaimed flooring brands that are readily available through many hardwood flooring companies.

Flooring industry takes steps that recognize that consumers want products that are Better for People “I don’t really think most flooring customers really care about green,” a rep for a large hardwood manufacturer tells me. “The planet just isn’t a priority to them, particularly if an FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) -certified  label  on the product is going to cost more.” I have to ask: “Do you think they care about the other part of green – the indoor-air friendly, low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound), better for human health part?” “Absolutely,” he says without hesitation. “That is coming up all the time now.”

IMPORTANT NOTE: This article was accurate as of the date it was published, and was signed off on by all of the manufacturer sources quoted. That said, manufacturers frequently change their formulations and ingredients, so this article, given its age, becomes background. DO NOT rely on this article for purchasing these manufacturers’ current products. The questions are relatively simple, but if you would like help in getting guaranteed answers about certifications on a current product, sign up at: https://www.naturalinteriors.com/consumer-subscription/ Indoor Air Quality Certifications offer some, but not complete, assurance about vinyl flooring Q. While I am intrigued by natural, linoleum products, my budget is more inclined toward the Naturcor vinyl flooring I am looking at buying from my local flooring dealer. I also am concerned about buying a product that does not emit excessive chemicals, and I have been warned about dioxin, which is a carcinogen, by another blogger. Still, I have seen some vinyl brands advertise that they are green.  What is the truth about vinyl? A. The truth about vinyl – or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – is that it isn’t the preferred product of environmentalists or most green product enthusiasts.  But dioxin is an end-of-product life or house fire issue, because it is released when PVC is incinerated.

Cork, sustainable hardwood, oil and low-VOC finishes top list in homeowner’s meticulous selections Cork flooring upstairs. Hardwood with an oil finish downstairs. Stained Red Oak, from Indiana forests considered sustainable by Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Association, reaches from the spacious foyer and into the dining room. It changes to a basket weave pattern in the family room. Lorinn Williams of Indian Hill, OH, began planning this home two years ago. Her 12-year-old daughter encouraged her to select as many “green” products as she could.

Some are born with Natural knowledge, but most of us have learned from mistakes Sixteen years ago, I let my infant sleep on a plastic mattress filled with foam rubber. I had read the baby books and collaborated with pregnant friends. But nothing and no one pointed out that standard mattresses contain petrochemicals or that these chemicals off-gas for us to breathe and absorb. Even when the baby developed sleep apnea -- and had to sleep wearing a halter monitor and alarm because of a family history of crib death -- I did not question the standard crib mattress I had purchased from my local baby supply store. Truthfully, if someone had told me to raise this question, I probably would have laughed and, privately, considered that person to be a little crazy. Everyone in the United States buys and sleeps on traditional mattresses every day.  If there were something wrong with that, we would all know, right?

The story of rugs from Mekizodesigns “Most of the blogs I find become more of an information regurgitation, and I am guilty of that myself,” Melanie Munden, founder of Mekizodesigns, tells me from the start. “We are selling flooring, after all,” she says. “But for me, I am interested in the story of how something began. What inspired me, and who or what is the latest trend in color for fashion trends and textiles for the home.” It only took about 30 seconds for me to figure out that Melanie is an artist, and that this touches everything she does. Her new silk and wool rugs have standalone appeal. But I now want to know the story of how this began.

Linoleum appeal has moved beyond health benefits to include one-of-a-kind designs Vinyl lovers take note: Green-minded Portland residents remodeling kitchens and bathrooms are resoundingly choosing Marmoleum floors. Unlike vinyl, this is all-natural linoleum made primarily from linseed oil. While it traditionally has been sought by the chemically sensitive or those concerned about indoor-air quality, it is now also being sought for its fashion statement, says Sam Snow, owner of EcoFloors in Portland, OR. “It’s an excellent choice for high-use areas because of its durability, lower maintenance and its style options are almost endless,” he says. “In addition, it’s 100-percent natural, antistatic, antibacterial and comfortable underfoot.”

Why do you harp on Indoor Air Quality Certifications? Q. If cork flooring is a natural material, why do you put so much emphasis on whether the manufacturer has gotten the flooring certified through chemical emissions testing? A. There are many natural flooring products on the market. But very few of them are made without chemicals and additives. Cork flooring is beautifully natural and sustainable. But it cannot be made without some extra ingredients – like adhesive. After wine bottle stoppers are punched out of the bark of the Cork Oak Trees in and around Portugal, cork that will be made into flooring is ground up, mixed with pigments, and adhesive. Fortunately, cork producers in the Mediterranean region are known for their attention to environmentally sound adhesives and additives. Once the sheets of cork are produced, more materials are introduced. If the cork will be used for engineered flooring, which is made in layers, the core of the floor with be HDF (High Density Fiber Board). And if the flooring – engineered or solid – will be prefinished, anything from a simple water-based polyurethane to a proprietary aluminum oxide or ceramic finish, to a high-tech nano finish, will be applied to the surface.