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Low VOC variants Carpets, carpet tiles and floor finishes often have high levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Select materials that are low VOC versions to ensure the health of building occupants.

Carpet underlay - use recycled carpet underlays. 

Suggested recycled underlay products include: 

Carpet tiles - Where possible carpet tiles should be specified. Carpet tiles are hard wearing, allow moving of tiles to ensure even wear across the floor, or minimal replacement where required, rather than full scale replacement of whole rooms of broadloom carpet. Carpet tiles also readily have a second life in a resale market. Carpet is generally not recycled in Australia and the majority of it ends up in landfill. 

Cushion backed carpet tiles allow carpet tiles to compete for comfort with commercial carpets.

Carpet tiles should be placed in position rather than stuck down, or if stuck down, stuck with a low VOC pressure sensitive contact adhesive. Carpet tiles should not be stuck down early when an adhesive is wet before it has been allowed to tack off. Only when an adhesive has been able to dry to tack stage will carpet tiles be able to be removed again without damage. Tiles stuck down on wet adhesive risk being very difficult to remove without damaging the tiles, and floor grinding will most likely be used to remove remnant adhesive and tile delaminated tile scrim.

Carpet tile suppliers with good green credentials include:

Carpet - If carpet is used, select carpets that meet higher levels in the industry body Carpet Institute of Australia's Environmental Certification Scheme. 

From the Carpet Institutes website:

An extension of the Australian Carpet Classification Scheme (ACCS), the Environmental Certification Scheme provides a guide to the environmental performance of carpet.

As a precondition of obtaining environmental certification, carpet manufacturers must comply with the Code of Practice for Environmental Management which provides performance standards for raw materials, carpet manufacturing, in-service use and final disposal.

The ECS has four levels of certification with incrementally more demanding performance criteria. ECS Level 4 is the top grading.

Click to access a list of ECS certified carpets.

Alternatively, if carpet is used, select carpets that will not exceed the levels listed in the table below in accordance with the relevant test protocols (from Green Star Design and As Built v1.1 guidelines).

Test protocol - Limit

ASTM D5116 – Total VOC limit 0.5mg/m² per hour

ASTM D5116 – 4-PC (4-Phenylcyclohexene) - 0.05mg/m² per hour

ISO 16000/EN13419 – TVOC at three days 0.5mg/m² per hour

ISO 10580 / ISO/TC 219 (document N238) – TVOC at 24 hours 0.5mg/m² per hour

Recycled floorboards

Bamboo flooring should be specified in lieu of hardwood flooring. Bamboo is a grass and grows three - five times faster than hardwoods typically do. Bamboo is also more durable and can come without visible knots.

Bamboo products come in three formats:

  • Strand woven – stands of bamboo are held together by low VOC glues - no knots.

  • Narrow grain - 5mm slits joined together – less visible knots

  • Wide grain - 25mm wide pieces of bamboo joined together – visible knots.

Bamboo comes in two primary colours:

  • Natural – a light colour wood look

  • Carbonised – a darker colour wood look

Stains used over bamboo products can impact on the final colour. Water based stains retain the natural bamboo colour. Oil based stains provide a golden appearance to natural bamboo or can darken the colour.

Bamboo is a fast-growing grass which can be harvested every 5 years compared to 20 years for a Tasmanian Oak tree to reach full maturity. It grows as a hollow ring which allows the segments to be cut out and squared up to form 25mm wide flat pieces. Due to its speed of generation it is generally considered a more sustainable option than slower growing and a more land intensive resource such as timber.

Bamboo sheets are suitable for wall cladding or ceiling cladding (12.7mm thick is appropriate). Thicker bamboo sheets up to 40mm are available for joinery carcases and benchtops. Contact Leto Bamboo for further technical advice.

Bamboo floorboards are available with low VOC glues (emissions rated E0 or E1) and will be used as an alternative to hardwood and engineered hardwood floors. Bamboo flooring is cheaper than both these types of flooring and has superior strength and durability, although it is more expensive than faux timber appearance laminate flooring.

The most common type of bamboo flooring available is strand woven which provides a product with less visible knots.

Retail suppliers include:

Non-PVC flooring (vinyl alternative) try

  • Marmoleum - costs the same as vinyl flooring once installed. It is made of 97% natural ingredients; including wood pulp, linseed oil, Rosins and pigments rather than petrochemicals. 

  • Living Futures Declare label certified Tarkett IQ One – recyclable, take back program (confirm if both in Australia?)

Floor Coverings: About
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