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Flooring

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Design Guidance

Overall Strategies

Laboratory flooring should be designed for durability and safety, while reducing the environmental impact of the materials used. A green cleaning program can lengthen the life of the flooring.

Porcelain Tile

Porcelain Tile is a durable, cleanable modular finish that is suitable in wet locations or areas prone to liquids or spills.

Green Tips

  • Use underfloor air distribution for reconfigurable technology ready space as power, voice, and data services are easily accessible with access floors.
  • Evaluate sustainable attributes such as high recycled content and low VOC's to determine the most appropriate sustainable product for the space. Remember that adhesives may be required for flooring, and these may add VOC's even if the finish flooring does not.
  • Prevent stains by cleaning up spills promptly, starting with cold water and blotting cloths.
  • Select durable and easy to clean floor surfaces such as rubber, tile, or linoleum as break rooms and support areas are prone to high traffic and frequent spills.
  • Dry vacuum regularly and follow with a wet vacuum water extraction machine when necessary to protect indoor air quality.
  • Keep extra carpet tiles on hand to replace stained or damaged tiles.
  • Use carpet to absorb sound and reduce noise pollution.
  • Look for CRI Green Label and Green Label Plus certified carpet which emits fewer emissions than standard carpet.
  • Select flooring options that naturally compress and absorb pressure such as cork and rubber to help alleviate foot and back pain.
  • Keep extra carpet tiles on hand to replace stained or damaged tiles.
  • Use Green Seal certified chemicals and solutions when cleaning to protect indoor air quality.
  • Select materials that are extremely durable to withstand high load and high heat applications.
  • Promote a low static environment with use of rubber flooring
  • Select materials that are impervious to reduce bacteria accumulation and mold formation.
  • Select materials that are extremely durable to withstand high load applications.
  • Install non-slip mats to improve safety in locations where spills occur frequently.
  • Use carpet tile rather than broadloom carpet for increased flexibility and the ability to replace selected areas without having to remove carpet from the entire room.
  • Select durable, easy to clean, water-resistant, and slip resistant floor surfaces such as stone, porcelain, or ceramic tile for tenant restrooms.
  • Consider materials that are both attractive and very durable in high traffic areas such as the reception/lobby including tile.
  • Carpet tile provides increased flexibility versus other types of carpet because of ease of replacement.
  • Vinyl sheet flooring is often chosen for durability, chemical-resistance, and ability to contain spills of chemicals or other liquids. Sheet products may have a longer lifecycle in high-use chemistry and biology laboratories, where floor tiles may loosen or degrade over time.
  • In spaces used primarily for computer equipment, instrumentation, or even low-hazard chemistry work, consider rubber or linoleum floor tiles as a more cost-effective alternative with fewer health and environmental concerns.
  • Repair instead of replace floors to reduce raw material use and waste. When possible, cut out damaged sections of sheet flooring, patch, and re-weld the seams. Damaged tiles can easily be replaced.
  • Use floor cleaning products and supplies that are resource-efficient, bio-degradable and non-toxic.

Compare Flooring Options

EB = Existing BuildingsNC = New Construction and Major Renovation

Federal Requirements

Guiding Principles

  • Biobased Content ( Guiding Principles, Executive Order 13693 [EB, NC])
    Section: V. Reduce Environmental Impact of Materials

    Per Section 9002 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act (FSRIA), for USDA-designated products, specify products with the highest content level per USDA's biobased content recommendations. For other products, specify biobased products made from rapidly renewable resources and certified sustainable wood products. If these designated products meet performance requirements and are available at a reasonable cost, a preference for purchasing them shall be included in all solicitations relevant to construction, operation, maintenance of or use in the building. USDA's biobased product designations and biobased content recommendations are available on USDA's BioPreferred website.

  • Low-Emitting Materials ( Guiding Principles, Executive Order 13514 & 13423 [EB, NC])
    Section: IV. Enhance Indoor Environmental Quality

    Specify materials and products with low pollutant emissions, including composite wood products, adhesives, sealants, interior paints and finishes, carpet systems, and furnishings.

  • Recycled Content ( Guiding Principles, Executive Order 13693 [EB, NC])
    Section: V. Reduce Environmental Impact of Materials

    Per Section 6002 of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), for EPA-designated products, specify products meeting or exceeding EPA's recycled content recommendations. For other products, specify materials with recycled content when practicable. If EPA-designated products meet performance requirements and are available at a reasonable cost, a preference for purchasing them shall be included in all solicitations relevant to construction, operation, maintenance of or use in the building. EPA's recycled content product designations and recycled content recommendations are available on EPA's Comprehensive Procurement Guideline website.

  • Indoor Air Quality ( <span id="docs-internal-guid-f1e45d2e-bf74-2656-0c1b-777092dd54a0"><span>Guiding Principles, Executive Order <span>13693</span> [NC&amp;EB]</span></span>)
    Section: IV. Enhance Indoor Environmental Quality

    Guiding Principles for NC&EB: Take actions to ensure optimal indoor air quality, including:
    (i) “Test for radon in buildings and mitigate high levels.”
    (ii) “Establish policy and implement a moisture control strategy to prevent building materials damage, minimize mold growth, and reduce associated health risks.”
    (iii) “Use low emitting materials for building construction, modifications, maintenance, and operations. In particular, specify the following materials and products to have low pollutant emissions: composite wood products, adhesives, sealants, interior paints and finishes, solvents, carpet systems, janitorial supplies, and furnishings.”
    (iv) Establish a policy and implement necessary protocols to protect indoor air quality during construction, renovations, repairs, and alterations, and during occupancy.
    (v) “Prohibit smoking in any form within the building and within 25 feet of all building entrances, operable windows, and building ventilation intakes.”
    (vi) “Use integrated pest management techniques as appropriate to minimize pesticide usage.”
    Determining Compliance: “Develop and implement an indoor air quality policy that considers the following: moisture control, use of low emitting materials and products with low pollutant emissions, necessary protocols to protect indoor air quality during construction and in the finished building, prohibition of smoking in any form inside and within 25 feet of all building entrances, operable windows, and building ventilation intakes, and use of integrated pest management techniques.”

  • Material Content and Performance ( Guiding Principles, Executive Order <span>13693</span>&nbsp;[EB])
    Section: V. Reduce the Environmental Impact of Materials

    From the Guiding Principles for EB: Procure construction materials, products, and supplies that have a “lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment over their life cycle when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose”, including:
    (i) “Use Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) section 6002 compliant products that meet or exceed EPA’s recycled content recommendations for building construction, modifications, operations, and maintenance.”
    (ii) “Per section 9002 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act (FSRIA), for USDA-designated products, use products with the highest content level per USDA’s biobased content recommendations.”
    (iii) “Purchase products that meet Federally Recommended Specifications, Standards and Ecolabels or are on the Federal Green Procurement Compilation.”
    (iv) Eliminate, to the maximum extent practicable, “ozone depleting compounds and high global warming potential (GWP) chemicals where EPA’s SNAP has identified acceptable substitutes or where other environmentally preferable products are available” during construction, repair, or replacement at the end of life.
    Determining Compliance: “Procure products that meet the following requirements where applicable: (A) RCRA section 6002, and (B) FSRIA section 9002, and (C) Federally Recommended Specifications, Standards and Ecolabels or are on the Federal Green Procurement Compilation for other green products, as appropriate, and (D) Avoid ozone depleting compounds and high GWP chemicals.”