Is Hardwood Flooring Sustainable?

With the ongoing pressure and demand by several international councils and organisations for a better earth and environment, there has been a growing trend of shifting to sustainable lifestyle and products for a better cause. Also the green movements have been growing stronger over the years. Almost every other industry is getting into sustainable practices seeing the current scenario and as a part of their self-responsibility towards the nature as well. Now, the big question is regarding hardwood floorings, if they also come under the category of ‘sustainable products’? Do they fulfil the current need without harming the nature and eco-balance? I guess before going further into these details, at first we must understand what this ‘sustainability’ means. What are the factors that it considers and makes a product fall under the sustainable product roof? In a layman’s language, sustainability refers to the act of fulfilling current needs and requirements without jeopardizing the availability and use in the future. In general, it refers to something which can be used in an effective and secure way that is easy to maintain now and will endure over the time. Sustainable practices refer to use the products and resources in such a way that there is no over-exploitation and they can be used and consumed that also ensures the availability for the future use as well over a long period of time. To make this clear, let us take example of some of the earth resources like coal, petroleum, gas etc. which are present only in certain quantity and build over millions of years of time. So, excessive or irresponsible use and exploitation of these types of resources is not considered to be sustainable because if we over-use them, then there will be nothing left for our future generation to get benefit out of these valuable resources whereas resources like sunlight etc. fall under the umbrella of renewable category. The use of these types of resources is not only environment friendly but also their abundance and lifetime availability makes them a sustainable resource. So, practises involving use of renewable resources are highly encouraged as they not only cater to present and future use only but also ensure the availability over a longer period of time. So, now we move on the main agenda, is hardwood flooring a sustainable practice? Then, the answer would be ‘Yes’. The following points clearly show the sustainability factor of the hardwood flooring.
  • Prime source is itself renewable
If we see the prime source of flooring which is wood, it comes from the trees. And trees over the years absorb the carbon during their growing cycle, and this carbon remains stored in the products like wood flooring during its service life. So, at the end of its service life, this wood can be re-used for other purposes as fuel and it will get decomposed as well over the time.  
  • Use of Reclaimed Wood
Moreover, in many cases we have seen the use of Reclaimed Wood for wood flooring and reclaimed wood is the wood taken for re-use from many different sources including old warehouses, boxcars, wine barrels and recovered woods. Using reclaimed woods can also earn you credits towards achieving LEED project certification. This helps in preventing any new trees to be cut down and thus encourages green practice.  
  • Milling and Manufacturing Process is environment –friendly
The whole process of milling and manufacturing of hardwood floor is itself a sustainable process because every by-product is re-used and utilised in any possible way. The bark of the log can be turned into pulp for paper. Sawdust is collected and burned to the power mills. Other left planks and bits of woods are used in furniture products. In a whole, this complete process is itself a sustainable and environment friendly.  
  • Certified woods for flooring
But many a times, a picture comes to your mind that even woods are obtained by chopping down the lush-green forest, then how is this practice considered sustainable? Then too soothe your environmental conscience, here comes the role of agencies like Canadian Standards Association (CSA) whose role is to find out if the wood is meeting the strict criteria related to the forest management and ecological concerns or not? And the forest management also uses a sustainable method to cut down the trees where only a handful of trees per square foot are cut down while others are left alone. Once a tree is cut down, a seed is planted so another tree can take its place. CSA approved stamped woods are stamped and can be traced back to the forest they are coming from. These kind of certified woods are becoming more and more available in every city like Toronto, Brampton, Ottawa, Oakville and many more.  
  • Engineered Flooring
This method is also an environment friendly way because of its construction. It is created by putting a layer of hardwood floor over several layers of plywood that have been glued together. So, it uses a fraction of eth amount of the wood to construct the flooring. SO, this also helps in reducing the amount of trees to be cut down. From above picture it is crystal clear that hardwood flooring definitely falls under the category of sustainable products or sustainable practice. Although, the cutting down of trees is involved in the whole process but it also has some practices and methods which counter-balance this effect and helps in attaining the green mood of the environment.

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