Here we go gals - an affordable / Sustainable product. Forbo Flooring is the poster product for triple bottom line Sustainability – it’s good for the environment, the economy and humanity. (not to mention great for designers) I'll gladly endorse them.
While other companies are discussing what it means to become sustainable, Forbo has done it with their lead product Marmoleum. Marmoleum has achieved the SMART(c) Sustainable Product Platinum rating (the highest) which means it has practically zero impact on the environment. It's carbon neutral without buying carbon credits, and it puts no pervasive pollutants into the air, water or soil.
The flooring offers consumers and designers the practicality of wood combined with the creative freedom of an artist gone wild. With hundreds of color choices, Marmoleum opens designers up to a world way beyond beige. It's less expensive than granite, but like granite can be used in counter tops as well as flooring. (While granite may be "natural" it isn't necessarily sustainable. You've seen what open mines look like, right?)
Creating a sustainable product isn't for the faint-green-of-heart, it means holding your books open to public scrutiny and then improving everything at once, matching to a set group of criteria* It also means allowing a third party group like Ernst and Young audit your documents and verify the information, and then going public with it. As you can imagine, some companies are reluctant to start this process. Luckily companies like Forbo are leading the way and unafraid to leave their sustainable books open for others to copy.
Forbo Flooring is certified under the SMART(c) Sustainable Products Standard. It achieved the highest level, Platinum, which means it scored the majority of the points on the scorecard system. That may not mean much to you, but it does if you have an architect or designer that's trying to build your home to the LEED Green Building Standards. It also means something to the bank who will be giving you a discounted loan if you build it green. It will mean something to the insurance company as well. Fireman's Fund not only will insure a green home at a discount, if something happens to it, they'll rebuild it green, too.
SMART © stands for “Sustainable Materials Ratings Technology. It uses a score card that rates Sustainable criteria which looks at the entire life cycle of a product, i.e. gathering raw materials, converting materials into something that can be machined, manufactured, packaged, distributed, used and finally reused at the end of its days. It also measures all the transportation emissions that occurred between those steps. No small accomplishment. In the case of Marmoleum, it starts in a flax field in Canada, goes to Europe for processing, comes back to Pennsylvania for distribution, and eventually, 20-30 years from now when it's ready to be recycled, it can either be burned for energy, or chopped up and put back into the field to fertilize the next crop of flax.
In the life cycle of Marmoleum, it puts out fewer emissions than it creates. It’s one of the benefits using renewable resources like Rosin from pine trees, linseed oil from Flax, Wood flour from controlled forests, cork and jute. All of them absorb CO2 while growing, and "exhale" Oxygen. When you add back in the net CO2 emission coming from the manufacturing and it’s still less than the amount of CO2 the bio-system takes in while growing. Essentially it’s a closed loop system. To help further, the Forbo production acility in the Netherlands, runs entirely on Green Power.
The SMART© Certification is the latest in a series of global eco-labels which Forbo has earned. It also carries the Nordic Swan Label (96), ISO 14001 (97), Sequoia Award (98), The Netherlands Environmental Quality Mark (98), German TUV Label (00), The Austrian Environmental Label UZ42 (01), The German Nature Plus (04), The Australian Good Environmental Choice Eco-label (05)
Forbo Flooring is indeed the poster product for triple bottom line Sustainability – it’s good for the environment, the economy and humanity. (not to mention great for designers) The next time someone says, "real sustainable products can't be made," point them to Forbo.
Do you have a certified, sustainable product? Let me know.