Products & Certifications

Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) urges FSC boycott in response to failed proposal that would have opened the door for non-FSC products Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification is still the only label for sustainable wood products that qualifies for credit under LEED, an important U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) rating system. Despite several years of work and heavy lobbying by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and others  who say their certifications also should qualify, revisions that would have allowed consideration of non-FSC products for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) credit have been defeated. “The conclusion of the benchmark process marks a new opportunity to work with the USGBC and other interests to find an alternative and workable solution moving forward,” said Kathy Abusow, SFI Inc. president and CEO, in a written statement released today. But cooperation isn’t a theme in the rest of her message, which urges the building community to ignore the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) credit earned for using FSC-certified wood.

Consider origin, construction, chemical emissions, innovation and responsiveness when you choose cork flooring The call was one no flooring retailer wants.  The customer was furious. Her husband had damaged the cork flooring Cline’s Carpets had just installed in her home outside of West Lafayette, Ind. “She was really honked off, not at us, but at her husband who had done something that took a divot out of the floor,” owner Cary Cline recalls. But a strange thing happened when Cline’s installer went out the next day to make a repair. He couldn’t find any damage. “The flooring had healed itself,” Cline says. Cork flooring, invented more than 100 years ago, is known for its ability to bounce back from abuse. Today’s construction -- which includes engineered flooring and an array of stronger finishes -- has led to a dramatic increase in sales during the past decade.

Does a material that naturally resists mold need Microban? The definitive answer isn’t proven. But USFloors has made up its mind. USFloors, in addition to Qu-Cork supplier Global Market Partners, added Microban – a mold inhibitor – to their cork flooring products some time ago. While Qu-Cork still feels this was a cutting-edge move, USFloors has decided to focus on other ways to lead. At issue, says USFloors Marketing Director Gary Keeble Jr., are concerns about unknown, long-term effects of Triclosan – a bacteria killer that is used in Microban and many consumer products, including toothpaste. While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved Triclosan, both agencies have called for more review of the chemical in light of studies that show it alters hormone regulation in animals and might contribute to making bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics.

U.S. Green Building Council’s certified wood vote ends Nov. 23, while debate over which certification is best intensifies You’ve probably heard about it somewhere.  The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has for some time been considering revisions to rules that determine what wood products qualify as sustainably harvested. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification to date has been the only certification that qualifies a product for credit under Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), an important “green” building rating system.  The proposal, with voting to conclude Nov. 23, has long been anticipated as a document that would open the door for Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certification and others. “Okay, that’s nice,” you say. “But why do I care?” Because your understanding of these certifications -- and the availability of products that have them -- will affect choices you can make to protect the planet, and possibly, your pocketbook.

Retailer claims to clear air of dust, irritants and mold with its industry-first Healthier Living™ Carpet Installation system  “We’re not going to get done in time,” the carpet installer yelled to his boss on his cell phone after his crew removed the old carpet from my house 13 years ago. “This guy wants to vacuum everything, and he won’t let us get in there.” The carpet installation crew was behind schedule because my husband insisted on vacuuming the subfloor. The old carpet had been there since the house was built. Dust, dirt, wood shavings, construction debris and tell-tale signs of the former owner’s dog were hidden beneath it. The way carpet is installed and maintained has a big impact on indoor-air quality. Even if there is no construction debris under the old carpet, an army of irritants and allergens can become airborne when old carpet is removed, and new carpet is brought in. And if any spills have made their way through the carpet, mildew and mold also might be taking hold of the subfloor.

Part One: A Focus on the Finish You might not see it.  But when you inspect the most popular cork floors, you’ll feel the difference. The surfaces on prefinished cork floors range from rough to smooth. The looks range from stone-like to clear and natural. Only the leaders have obtained “green” certifications that prove their products don’t release harmful levels of chemicals. And there is a little debate over whether some of the harder finishes chosen for durability belong on a softer floor like cork.

While consumer demand for natural products is growing, they are a must-have for people with chemical sensitivities Kathy McDowell was upset to think she would have to stop playing with her grandchildren on the carpet in her family room. Every time she got close to the floor, the West Lafayette, IN, resident had a reaction that triggered respiratory problems. When her doctor told her that the carpet had to go, McDowell persisted. She started investigating wool carpet and learned about chemical-free Nature’s Carpet – surprisingly close to home at Cline’s Carpets & Blinds. “I love the carpet,” says McDowell, who has asthma. “I can get down on the floor with my grandkids. And the wool is easy to keep clean. It seems to breathe. It’s natural. It’s warm when it’s cold, and it’s cool when it’s warm.”

Part Three: Choosing a Salesperson There are a few hints sales people drop that can mean they know little or nothing about bamboo flooring. The first is failure to include bamboo in the choices he or she shows you when you say you’re looking for hardwood flooring. But this is not reason in itself to bolt. Different in-store promotions and incentives offered by manufacturers can divert a salesperson’s attention. You can cut through this issue quickly by saying you also want to see bamboo.