Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Carpet Improves Acoustics in Public Places

Let’s Hear it for Carpet! Carpet Improves Acoustics in Public Places

I took my son to dinner last week at a local sushi restaurant that also featured several hibachi-grill tables, with their flamboyant chefs, clanging spatulas and flaming onion volcanoes. Although he is only twenty and hasn’t reached the age when he needs to watch peoples’ lips move in order to understand the conversation at a crowded and noisy restaurant, he still remarked that he couldn’t hear very well, and commented on how loud the place was. Wordlessly (it was easier than shouting), I pointed to the tile floors, partially-tiled walls, and tile mosaic columns in the room. He got the point – “Oh yeah, no carpet,” he said, recognizing that once again, his mother was touting the benefits of soft floor covering (I’m dazzlingly entertaining at cocktail parties).

Knowing myself to be somewhat monomaniacal on the subject, it is nice when I can sit back and let someone else say something nice about carpet, and today I have a perfect excuse to do that.

A post that appeared on Wools of New Zealand's blog gives an excellent synopsis of carpet’s benefits in terms of acoustic performance and comfort. Written by Elise Demboski,  the post is titled, When Silence is Golden. Here are excerpts:

Sound is transmitted by the vibration of air molecules. So, if you are surrounded by hard surfaces, any sound is reflected back into the room. Carpets, on the other hand, are extremely effective sound absorbers because the individual fibers, piles tufts and underlay have different resonant frequencies at which they absorb sound.

Typically, carpets can reduce airborne noise by 35%; however, tests of wool carpets of varying constructions produced an average noise reduction of 46%. With underlay, reductions of 50% to 70% were achieved… Also, cut-pile carpet will absorb more than loop, because of the more open nature of its surface.

In addition to verbal noise we also generate surface noise. Surface noise in a room is the sound from footsteps, dropped objects and furniture movement. Bare tile floors produce 7-12 times more surface noise than carpets, which cushion the impact of the noise, absorbing and deadening the sound. This type of noise control is particularly important in busy restaurants and other locations where people need to be able to communicate amidst a lot of activity.

Carpet would definitely have improved the acoustics in my hibachi/flaming onion volcano sushi restaurant. Similarly, carpet reduces ambient noise in schools, which can have a very positive effect on students’ ability to learn. Here are two related blog posts: Carpet Improves Acoustics, Absorbs Background Noise and Carpet Aids Learning in Schools" in CEFPI Journal.

Have you had similar experiences in public places? I'd love to hear about them.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Carpet In Learning Environments: Werner Braun

Carpet In Learning Environments: Werner Braun

Carpet gets an A!  Carpet and Rug Institute's Werner Braun Outlines the benefits of carpet in learning environments

In his latest column for the Dalton Daily Citizen, titled Carpet get an A in schools, Werner Braun asks readers, “What offers an array of advantages to the school environment, including warmth, noise absorption, comfort and safety, yet stands up to the test of the tough abuse so many little feet can dish out?”

The answer, of course, is, carpet

The article tells how a nationwide survey of teachers done several years ago shows that they overwhelmingly prefer carpet in their classrooms.

Other benefits of carpet in schools are: better acoustics, increased safety due to a marked reduction in slip and fall accidents, energy conservation due to carpet’s insulative effects, and greater comfort thanks to carpet’s softness and warmth. The article outlines another significant benefit: carpet’s positive influence on indoor air.

“Another benefit to choosing carpet for a school environment is the filter-like effect it creates in the air. Dust and allergens that fall to the carpet stay on the carpet until they are vacuumed out. On hard surfaces, they are recirculated into the breathing space. A properly maintained carpet helps keep the air in the learning environment fresh”.

The article mentions case studies done at Ridgeland High School in Rossville, Georgia and Beverly Elementary in Plano, Texas that support the findings that carpet has a positive influence in school environments.

It stands to reason that children learn better in learning spaces where they can hear better and are more comfortable. As Werner says, “…the area [children] spend …nine months growing in should provide them with more than numbers and letters, [schools should create]an atmosphere that helps keep these equations fresh in their minds for the next quiz. Carpet simply makes the grade in our book.”

Thanks, Werner.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Carpet and Rug Institute Blog Ranked #1 in Flooring-related Social Media

Carpet and Rug Institute Blog most influential in Social Flooring Index
When I saw the latest post from Christine Whittemore’s Social Flooring Index I actually pulled off the side of the road (I was still in my neighborhood) to read it. It made me late to work, but I couldn’t wait.

Christine is a well-known social media expert who helped develop the CRI Blog and continues as a consultant. She started compiling and analyzing a list of flooring industry blogs and other social media outlets like Twitter about a year ago. Since that time, her flooring blog list has grown to 88 blogs that she follows, and she has developed more sophisticated measuring tools. Of note:

Over the past 6 months, blogs in the Social Flooring Index issued 1,532 conversations. Of those conversations,

• 1,001 related to carpet, wood, laminate or flooring
• 450 focus on carpet
• 252 touch on design or fashion
• 143 address cleaning
• 89 discuss benefits
• 32 relate to recycling
• 25 touch on allergy related topics
• 25 address padding

Of particular interest to CRI is the fact that the Carpet and Rug Institute blog is once again ranked #1 in terms of influence. Influence is measured as a function of page rank, traffic, and number of postings. The CRI blog is also the most social, in that it links to other blogs and a number of other blogs are linked to it. In coming days, I am going to research the list of flooring blogs to see which ones have content that would be relevant to the readers of the CRI blog. As Christine says, “That’s what makes it all social.”

It is gratifying to be listed as the most influential flooring blog, and particularly to be used as the benchmark against which other blogs in the category are measured. Thanks to Christine Whittemore, for her contribution to the success of the CRI blog, and for putting together a useful tool in the Social Flooring Blog Index.

~ Bethany

Thursday, August 19, 2010

GeoHay: Ready to Save the Day With Carpet - Werner Braun

Werner Braun: GeoHay tries to save the day

Werner Braun on GeoHay, made from 100% recycled carpet fibers: In Place and Ready to Save the Day

CRI's Werner Braun’s latest article for Dalton, Georgia newspaper, the Daily Citizen, tells the incredible story of how a product that was invented as an environmentally-friendly way to stop erosion along interstate construction sites is being put to use in one Florida county as a barrier that will stop oil from the BP spill from spoiling the beach. The article is titled "GeoHay tries to save the day."

The product is called GeoHay and its manufacturers call it a “barrier filtration product”. It is made from 100 percent recycled carpet fibers, such as nylon, polyester and polypropylene. GeoHay is non-biodegradable, strong and durable, and can be used over and over again. Unlike natural hay bales, GeoHay will not fall apart or decompose with use. Sounds great to me.

Designed to control erosion, GeoHay’s recycled carpet fibers allow water to flow through, while trapping suspended sediments such as oil. More than 2,000 feet of retention fences and oblong bales of GeoHay now line Topsail Hill Preserve State Park Beach in Walton County, Florida (see related blog post Recycled Carpet Protects Florida Coast From Oil).

In addition to GeoHay, used carpet fibers can be turned into construction materials, coal substitutes, plastics and new carpet. The article lists some examples:

NyconG is a reinforcing fiber for concrete and other construction materials. It is made from 100 percent recycled carpet and carpet backing. The manufacturer promises the material lowers production costs and may be eligible for tax credits and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) credit savings.

KeLa Energy uses recycled coal waste and used carpet fibers to create an alternative energy source that burns cleaner, hotter and more efficiently than coal.

Los Angeles Fiber and several other companies make new carpet from your old carpet. Other companies are making a variety of plastics, including bottles and car parts, from used carpet fibers.

Finally, other options for reusing before recycling your carpet include:

• Cover compost heaps and worm compost bins to trap heat and moisture.

• Cover a field of weeds with carpet. Within weeks it will all be dead and you can replant with new sod or other plants.

• Find a new home for the carpet on Craigslist or FreeCycle.

• Check with your local animal shelter. It may want the used carpet patches for its cat cages.

• Put it in a greenhouse to keep plants off the cold floor.

No matter what, don’t throw away old carpet. Even if it doesn’t stop the oil spill, it can certainly be put to good use.”

Great information. Thanks, Werner!


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Green Carpet Cleaning Expert Offers Advice On Caring For Carpet

Green Carpet Care

How to keep your carpets green - and clean - no matter the color

Building Magazine recently published an article by green-cleaning expert Stephen Ashkin that provides valuable information on green carpet care. I was pleased to note that the article supports much of what the Carpet and Rug Institute promotes as smart, well-planned carpet maintenance.

Good carpet cleaning is, in and of itself, a green practice, in that it keeps carpet in place longer instead of being pulled up and sent to the landfill. But as the article, Green Carpet Care, points out, there are ways to make the process even greener by using more energy-efficient machines and environmentally-friendly solutions. See our related blog posts: Werner Braun, CRI President, Measures Success and Carpet Care & Maintenance in Military Housing Magazine.

Coincidentally, CRI has just approved the first group of vacuum cleaners under its new energy-efficiency rating that is part of its Seal of Approval testing and certification program for carpet cleaning products and equipment. (More on this in a few days) Also, products listed as SOA Green have been certified to work effectively and be kind to the environment. 

Tips from the Buildings article:

Prioritize carpet cleaning. Many facilities schedule carpet cleaning throughout the year, with certain areas cleaned on a set schedule. This may work in some parts of a building as long as those carpeted areas do need to be cleaned. But what often happens is the executive areas of facilities, where carpets tend to stay relatively unsoiled, get more than their fair share of attention. Carpet cleaning should be prioritized: clean those areas that get more soiled more frequently and the less soiled areas less frequently.

Vacuum frequently. It is estimated that 80 percent of the soils in carpets are dry, such as dust and grit. An effective vacuum cleaner, employing a HEPA or similar filtration system, can remove these soils from carpets, which prevents them from further soiling the floor covering. In addition, a high filtration system protects indoor air quality.

Employ interim carpet cleaning methods. Although the extraction method is the most thorough carpet cleaning procedure, it uses a lot of water. Older extractors may use as much as two gallons of water per minute, as well as large amounts of chemicals. Often a shampoo, bonnet, or dry carpet cleaning method can be used on an interim basis. These processes use far less water, energy, and chemicals, which reduces cleaning’s impact on the environment.

Low-flow technologies. Even when incorporating an interim carpet cleaning system, switching to low-flow or low-moisture extractors can reduce water use dramatically. Some systems use less than one gallon of water per minute and the carpets dry in two to four hours. This expedited cleaning time helps prevent mold or mildew from developing.

Use cold water when cleaning carpets. While this is a somewhat controversial suggestion, most soils will be removed from carpets by using cold water, depending on the degree of soiling. Why is this important? The heating of water, especially when using portable extractors, can draw large amounts of power. Using cold water eliminates this. Additionally, depending on how the chemicals are used with the system, hot water can cause the development of fumes that can be harmful to the user and indoor air quality.

Use green-certified cleaning chemicals. Today, this is a "no-brainer." Several manufacturers now have green-certified carpet cleaning products or products that meet or exceed certification standards. Most users find these products compare favorably with, if not exceed, the performance standards of conventional carpet cleaning chemicals.

Maintain the equipment … and know when it is time to select new machines. One 23-story building in Chicago has employed the same portable carpet extractor for more than 15 years. The machine breaks down regularly, is an excessive water and power user, and due to its lack of cleaning power, requires large amounts of chemical solution to perform adequately. Fortunately the building’s managers have decided to replace the machine. Newer machines require far less water and energy and use less chemical more efficiently than machines produced just a few years ago. Consider new equipment if current machines are more than seven years old and be sure to maintain them properly to keep them operating most effectively.

Great advice.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Carpet Industry does 'CARE' and Recycle: Werner Braun

Werner Braun: The Carpet industry does CARE. Growth in carpet recycling is a testament to industry’s long-term commitment to the environment

In his series of weekly columns for Dalton’s Daily-Citizen Newspaper, Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) President Werner Braun talks about how the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) is bringing value to the emerging post-consumer carpet recycling industry by reusing, recycling, and otherwise diverting used carpet so that it does not end up in landfills. The article is titled: Carpet industry does 'CARE'.

CARE was founded in 2002, as part of a collaborative agreement between the carpet industry, regulating bodies, and others. The growth of CARE, as well as the growth in carpet recycling in general, has been steady, and significant progress has been made towards diverting a larger and larger portion of the 4.7 billion pounds of carpet currently going into landfills each year. In 2009, 311 million pounds of post-consumer carpet was diverted from the landfill and 246 million pounds of carpet was recycled into carpet and other consumer products. This represents an increase of 6 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively, from 2008 to 2009. Not bad for a difficult year economically for the carpet industry overall. Ninety-seven percent of the material collected was put to use in the United States.

Jobs associated with carpet recycling have also grown, with 1,661 people employed – that’s was increase of 51% between 2008 and 2009. As Braun says in the article:

“Being “green” is a personal choice. But being “green” is becoming a reality. Carpet is recyclable and since 2002 CARE has diverted 1.6 billion pounds of carpet from the landfill, decreased GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions by 1.2 million MTCE (metric tons carbon equivalent) — which is equal to not burning 10 million barrels of oil — and has created over 1,660 primary jobs. In fact, one secondary job is created for every primary job. The number of collection facilities has grown from five in 2002 to 72 currently.

As the year 2012 approaches, the 10-year study with CARE is closing, but the positive environmental footprint isn’t. This is only the beginning.”

Thank you, Werner, and thanks to everyone who is making a sustainable difference for the carpet industry through CARE!


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pitfalls to Avoid When Selecting Home Service Providers Including Carpet Cleaners

Professor Elizabeth B. Goldsmith
The author of the Carpet and Rug Institute’s publication, “Carpet Cleaning Tips for Dummies” is quoted in a New York Times article that advises readers on pitfalls to avoid when selecting home maintenance service providers. The article, titled, Avoid Fly-by-Night Cleaners by Making a Phone Call First” offers advice from various experts on how to select (and whom to avoid) when choosing a company to clean air ducts, repair basement water leaks, clean carpet, etc.

Here’s an excerpt from the article with Professor Goldsmith’s comments on choosing a carpet cleaning company:

“Beware of any company that offers a per-room price," said Elizabeth B. Goldsmith, a professor of consumer economics at Florida State University, who has written “Carpet Cleaning Tips for Dummies,” and other books.

A good company should come out and measure the square footage, she said. When the cleaners arrive, they should first vacuum. Furniture should not be moved back in until the carpet is fully dry, she said. I learned this the hard way, when the metal bottoms of some chairs were placed on a damp rug and caused rust stains. In addition, stain from furniture legs can sometimes run onto the carpet, Professor Goldsmith said.

The other option, as many carpet cleaners now do, is to place little plastic patches under all furniture legs to protect the freshly cleaned carpet.”

You can order a copy Carpet Cleaning Tips for Dummies from the Carpet and Rug Institute website or find good carpet cleaning information on the CRI website

Another way to find a qualified and reputable carpet cleaning professionals is to look at the list of Seal of Approval Service Providers located on the Carpet and Rug Institute website. These are cleaners who use equipment and cleaning products that have been rigorously tested and certified to work and have signed an agreement with CRI stating their commitment to ethical business practices. Just enter your zip code to find the businesses in your area

Congratulations, Dr. Goldsmith, and thank you for this information.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Carpet, a Potential Alternative Energy Source: Werner Braun

Carpet, a potential alternative energy source

Werner Braun: Why are we sending good fuel to the landfill?: Discarded carpet is a potential alternative energy source

Is it environmentally preferable to use post-consumer carpet as an alternative fuel to coal than to send it to the landfill? That’s the question that Werner Braun, Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI)’s president asks in his latest column for the Dalton Daily-Citizen.

“Even though an enormous amount of used carpet is recycled every year, not all of it can be. Over the last eight years, the carpet industry has been instrumental in diverting over 1.6 billion pounds of carpet from landfills. In addition to saving landfill space, this effort has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 1.4 million metric tons of CO2e (Carbon Dioxide Equivalents), which is the same as taking over one-quarter million cars off the road for a year. Much of this has been accomplished through the collection and recycling of carpet.”

The reasons some used carpet does not qualify for recycling relate to various factors: the carpet could have gotten wet and contaminated in some way; different fiber types or components may be limited in their recyclability. Sometimes backing and other materials may be left over after the most valuable portion of the carpet (the face fiber) is separated. Finally, some materials simply cannot be recycled economically. What is the best thing to do with the post-consumer carpet that cannot be recycled?

“The bulk of all carpet face fiber and backing is petroleum-based, including materials such as nylon, polyester, latex and other backing materials. All of these have high fuel value.

Today, only about 15 percent of all carpet recycled is being used as an alternative fuel despite the fact that the BTU (British thermal unit, measurement of the heat value of a fuel) properties of carpet make it an excellent material as a fuel substitute for mined coal. Post-consumer carpet has an estimated heating value of 13,900 BTUs per pound, or roughly 25 percent more than coal’s heating value.

Post-consumer carpet is also a cleaner fuel than coal. The combustion of one ton of carpet scraps in an industrial boiler releases 3,800 pounds CO2e, while offsetting 7,800 pounds of CO2e from coal combustion. Additionally, a 2008 study by Sound Resource Management for Seattle Public Utilities concluded that using scrap carpet as a coal replacement had substantial climate change and environmental benefits as opposed to simply landfilling used carpet.”

Wow. Carpet burns cleaner than coal. That sounds like an idea worth pursuing. Cities need to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills. Using carpet as a fuel could provide a source of energy rather than take up precious landfill space.

“…the carpet industry feels the benefits of using carpet as an alternative fuel are an important component of the total solution to carpet diversion, and therefore this use should be more universally considered and implemented in the United States. Using carpet as an alternative fuel helps slow down the continued depletion of fossil fuels. It creates lower greenhouse gas emissions versus coal, along with having the higher BTU value.”

Thank you Werner, for this fascinating look at a potential new energy source.


For more information about the carpet industry’s efforts to recycle post-consumer carpet, go to the CARE (Carpet America Recovery Effort) website

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Carpet Recycling in Crain's New York Business: Sean Ragiel, Carpet Cycle

Sean Ragiel, Carpet Cycle, on Carpet Recycling & CARE in Crain's New York Business

Carpet Recycling Makes News: CARE Board Member, Sean Ragiel, Profiled in NYC Business Publication.

Article also promotes efforts of Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE)

Everywhere you look - websites, newspapers, and television - the media are enthusiastically covering stories that have strong environmental angles. I particularly enjoy a story that profiles a successful individual who has found a way to turn a profit while helping the environment at the same time.

Especially when I know the person being profiled.

A recent article entitled, “Entrepreneurs make a clean break: Wanna buy a used carpet?” on the Crain’s Business New York website looks at the accomplishments of environmental entrepreneur and Carpet America Recovery Effort board member Sean Ragiel. According to its website, “Crain's New York Business provides news, information and connections on all facets of New York through the prism of business. Crain's is a weekly newspaper focusing on New York-area business news for upper-level executives and entrepreneurs with a circulation of more than 58,500 and a breaking news media outlet online at crainsnewyork.com.

The article explains how last year Sean’s business, CarpetCycle, “collected 12 million pounds of discarded carpeting from offices and other commercial buildings in New York and New Jersey. His team in Elizabeth, N.J., sorts the carpet by type, prepares it and ships it to manufacturers that remake it into new carpets, automotive parts and other products. Mr. Ragiel grossed $2.5 million last year.”

CarpetCycle’s New York City market generates 1 billion pounds of spent carpet each year, or about one sixth of the nation’s annual output. The article discusses Sean’s plans to expand CarpetCycle into a larger facility in New Jersey and his discussions with the NYC government, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and Georgia carpet-tile manufacturer InterfaceFlor to set up a 20,000-square-foot facility that would process carpet and also manufacture products from the recycled nylon.

The problem Sean says, is finding markets for the nylon recovered from carpet. Currently the material is being processed back into carpet fiber and in some cases being sold as engineered resins for use in molded plastic components for cars and small consumer goods, among other uses.

“In the meantime, Mr. Ragiel spends much of his time working on new products and selling manufacturers on using recycled carpet.

‘Carpet mills have done a lot to create markets,’ he says. ‘My job is to find solutions to the ongoing multibillion-pound supply.’”

Sean Ragiel and CarpetCycle represent just one of the people and organizations working to promote carpet recycling through the Carpet America Recovery Effort, but the magazine could not have chosen a better example to showcase this complex industry.

Congratulations, Sean, and thank you for your commitment to CARE!

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