For All the Right Reasons, Carpet is a Great Choice for Schools
~ Carpet scores high on health and safety, acoustics and comfort, and environmental benefits. And, new research shows carpet no more likely to transfer bacteria than hard surface floors.An article in the March, 2011 edition of the business journal, Commercial Building Products, which serves architects, contractors and building owners in the commercial building market, gives a comprehensive accounting of carpet as a flooring option for schools. The article is written by Keith Gray, director of technical marketing for the Mohawk Group, a Carpet and Rug Institute-member manufacturer that represents the Karastan, Lees, Bigelow, and Durkan brands of commercial carpet.
Titled, “These Factors Drive School Carpet Success,” the article describes how “carpet is a better choice for schools than most commonly used flooring materials.” Among the factors that make it the preferred choice, the article lists sustainability, health concerns, safety issues, ergonomic considerations, and acoustic performance.
Under sustainability, the article stresses the importance of proper cleaning and maintenance: “Properly maintained carpeting stays in use and out of the waste stream longer, contributing to lower lifecycle costs. Furthermore, when product, installation, and maintenance supplies and labor costs are considered over a 15-to-20-year period, carpet delivers lower lifecycle costs than other floor covering.”
Mr. Gray also stresses the importance of evaluating a carpet’s overall sustainability, and not basing decisions on a sole product aspect, such as recycled content. Keith suggests architects and builders choose school carpet from the list of products certified under the NSF 140 standard for carpet sustainability. (See related blog posts CRI Sustainability Manager Jeff Carrier and Carpet's NSF 140: Better Than Greeen Building For Indoor Air Quality.)
“Unlike most standards, which are single attribute, NSF 140 2007e requires superior performance in multiple environmental areas. It is the first multi-quality, non-proprietary, third-party standard based on lifecycle-assessment principles specifically for carpet. It doesn't look only at recycled content. It is a system with varying levels of certification to define more-sustainable products, allowing a streamlined approach for product evaluation.”
On the issue of carpet and health, interesting new research from the healthcare design industry shows that carpet is no more likely to transfer bacteria than hard surface floors. “One recent study reported that carpet surfaces are no more likely to transmit infections than hard surfaces. In fact, it was suggested that certain hard-surface floors may have higher potential to transmit infections. While no cause could be defined for this observation, one theory proposes that a carpet's textured surface limits hand-surface contact area and that the tendency of carpet to increase the contact time of cleaning solutions allows them to perform more effectively. Further, it has been suggested that carpet appears to sequester biocontaminants, keeping them out of the range of contact for transmission and out of the breathing zone.”
On the related issues of carpet’s effect on asthma and allergy and indoor air quality, the article states: “To date, carpet has not been proven to provoke asthma and/or allergies. Its low VOC levels improve the indoor air quality.
In fact, carpet may emit the lowest levels of VOC among common flooring choices and is one of the lowest-emitting products used in new construction and renovation-much lower than products such as paint. Carpet certified by the Carpet and Rug Institute Green Label Plus program emits very low levels of VOCs for very short periods of time and is unlikely to act as an allergy activator.
Quite simply, the science available today concludes that carpet may be less likely to transmit infections than hard-surface floors, does not cause asthma or allergies, and does not increase the incidence or severity of asthma and/or allergy symptoms.”
This article is one of the most comprehensive examinations of how carpet can benefit the school environment I have ever read. I urge everyone to examine the entire article here: These Factors Drive School Carpet Success.
Next post: Carpet in schools: improved acoustic performance, plus benefits to safety and user-friendliness
Image courtesy of The Mohawk Group