This will serve as a quick refresher on bamboo as a flooring alternative. The material has taken place in many people’s minds as being the most green and renewable resource. I would urge everyone to take a closer look at the bigger picture for this material. The NWFA recently released a simple article about the basics of this material. For a copy of this article in PDF format, please click here. While bamboo seems to be a miracle flooring option, there are some unknowns you need to investigate when choosing a flooring company. Most bamboo used for flooring is produced in China and other countries where labor practices are questionable. Many overseas farms and factories have no guidelines for fair labor practices. There are no regulations in the United States as to where the bamboo originates. Also, in China there are no set government standards for bamboo flooring production and construction or for air quality standards. For these reasons, it’s possible that production of bamboo flooring produces toxic byproducts and expends large amounts of energy. Many bamboo floors exported from China contain high levels of urea formaldehyde that do not meet safety standards in other countries.
The U.S. forestry system has been sustainable long before the word caught fire with the recent trends of the green building movement. The reason is simply that the clear cutting of our forests without replanting would devastate the forestry industry as a whole because the jobs would have been lost long ago without sustainability in mind. In addition to being sustainable, domestic wood species have a distinct advantage for two reasons. The first reason is that buying flooring produced within the United States supports the nationwide economy rather than a competing economy. The second reason is that wood flooring produced locally has a lesser impact in terms of carbon footprint because the material requires less fuel to transport.
The point of my blog is to encourage those of you to look at the bigger picture when selecting a flooring material with regards to sustainability. If you are working with a retailer, then please make sure that they are a reputable retailer that cares for your floor well beyond when you leave the store with your new flooring material. In the next blog, I will address the properties that go into the quality and durability of your floor.