Sustainability means living within the means of the natural systems, without causing harm to others or jeopardizing future needs. It has also come to mean reducing environmental impact and cultivating renewable resources. The earth can no longer provide the abundance of non-renewable resources to meet the ever-growing needs of mankind.
The word sustainability has been a trendy buzzword since the advent of the environmental movement in the early 1980’s. The idea of environmental sustainability was introduced by Rachel Carson in her 1962 book Silent Spring. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature published the World Conservation Strategy in 1980 including a chapter entitled, “Towards Sustainable Development”. The word “sustainable’ forever became a part of the American lexicon and national policy discussion.
The healthcare industry consumes an enormous amount of sustainable and non-sustainable goods from around the world. Hospitals and healthcare institutions realized sustainable products contribute not only to the patient well-being but to the good of the planet. This trend has even extended into hospital flooring because sustainable flooring is versatile, durable, and abundant.
Green flooring options meet the needs of the healthcare industry. The top priorities of healthcare flooring are: comfort, durability, infection control, aesthetics, safety, initial cost and short maintenance time. Hospitals can choose a floor based on needs identifying features from most to least important. When using this ranking system, several different flooring materials are possible.
Rubber is natural, durable and comes from a renewable source. Rubber made from virgin material that does not contain foul smelling polyvinyl chlorides. Air quality is improved as a result. Rubber flooring is dense and non-porous, eliminating the need for waxes and finishes. It is inhospitable to microbial growth that causes infection. Dust and wet mopping with a natural pH cleanser is all that is required. Gentle cleaners leave little to no odor behind. The low maintenance cleaning regimen reduces downtime, contributing to the continuous operation of the facility. Other benefits of rubber flooring are comfort, durability and safety. Rubber is a great option for hospitals and other healthcare facilities, where employees are on their feet for long shifts.
Bamboo floors provide strength and durability, but are not comfortable to walk on for prolonged periods of time. These are recommended for use in a healthcare lobby or waiting area. Bamboo is durable in high traffic areas requiring less frequent replacement. It portrays the “feel of home” because of its natural wood appearance. Patients are much more comfortable in a simulated, home-like environment. Wood products require the proper humidity levels of between 35-55% RH in order to perform well. A quick test of the environment would be a good idea before installing wood. Many commercial buildings do not provide humidification and the air is too dry in the winter time with the heating systems.
Cork and Linoleum
Cork and linoleum are two other sustainable flooring solutions. Cork is also derived from a renewable source, but is more expensive than other options. It provides comfort, but scores poorly when it comes to infection control because of its porous nature. Cork is normally not used in a hospital or health care setting for this reason.
Linoleum, made from linseed oil and other natural elements, provides natural anti microbial properties. It is an excellent choice for health care due to the infection control properties and durability. Linoleum is not recommended for use in areas where there is sitting water or excessive moisture is present. Moisture tests should be performed to vertify proper installation conidtions.
To make the best possible healthcare flooring decision, please do contact the flooring professionals at Commercial Flooring & Interior Concepts. Our professionals specialize in sustainable flooring solutions, hospital flooring, green flooring options and any industry business flooring. Take the guess work out of what flooring surface will meet your commercial needs while being the most cost effective choice and staying within your budget. Our experienced staff will ask all the right questions to arrive at all the right answers.
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