A recent study found that 87 percent of surveyed consumers think about the environmental impact of the products they buy.
This is especially the case for homeowners, who are increasingly interested in eco-friendly building supplies.
Homeowners have extra incentives to build sustainably, too. Some states offer energy efficiency tax cuts, and homeowners can reduce energy bills while lowering their carbon footprint.
When it comes to flooring, however, most assume that hardwood floors are not sustainable. After all, don’t manufacturers cut down trees to create wood flooring?
Yes, they do, but this does not necessarily contribute to harmful deforestation! In fact, hardwood flooring can be the key to a green home.
Keep reading to learn more about eco-friendly flooring!
1. Cutting Down Trees For Hardwood Does Not Release Carbon
The world’s trees are often referred to as the “lungs of the earth.”
This is because trees absorb carbon dioxide in the air and release oxygen. Most living things, including humans, require oxygen to breathe and function.
Carbon dioxide is also arguably the biggest contributor to climate change. As a greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide traps heat in the earth’s atmosphere, especially in high concentrations.
The result? Changes in global weather patterns, which can impact entire ecosystems, plant kingdoms, and species.
The general agreement is that we need trees in order to offset the harmful effects of carbon emissions. Eco-friendly consumers thus protest deforestation, the deliberate removal of forests.
However, when an older tree dies, a few things can happen. It can slowly biodegrade over time. Some landowners may burn the dead trees on their properties. Others may go up in flames in a natural wildfire.
When an older tree burns, the heat releases all of the carbon stored within that tree over the decades. That carbon goes back into the atmosphere, where it joins the other harmful emissions threatening the planet.
Cutting down older trees for hardwood, on the other hand, does not release stored carbon. Milling these trees for hardwood floors is also a carbon-neutral activity.
From a carbon perspective, hardwood floor sourcing is net-neutral!
2. Younger Trees Absorb More CO2 Than Older Trees
Younger trees take in more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than older trees do. Older trees take in less CO2, although they store all carbon they’ve absorbed in their lifetime.
The ideal eco-friendly forests, then, would consist solely of young trees. Most forests, however, have a healthy mix of old and young trees.
Hardwood flooring typically comes from older trees, simply because they tend to have more established trunks (and more material).
When a manufacturer cuts down an old tree for flooring, this makes room for newer, younger trees. A greater percentage of young trees will mean a greater percentage of carbon absorbed from the air.
3. Wood Surpasses Concrete
Some homeowners prefer the look of a concrete floor. Concrete flooring is also cost-effective and useful for industrial settings.
However, as a building material, wood is far more eco-friendly than concrete.
Concrete processes consume 20% more energy than wood processes, for one thing. It also emits 29% more greenhouse gases. What’s more, concrete generates a whopping 225% more water pollutants than wood does!
Steel, another common building material, ranks similarly. It generates 300% more water pollutants than wood does, and contributes 15% more greenhouse gases.
Concrete is also far from biodegradable. In its raw, unmixed form concrete is environmentally friendly. But once it solidifies, concrete takes centuries to break down.
4. Hardwood Improves Home Energy Efficiency
One component of eco-friendly living is energy efficiency.
Well-insulated homes are more likely to retain heat and cold, reducing a home’s energy dependency. Some homeowners may use alternative energy sources, such as solar energy, to power their homes.
Home flooring can improve your home energy efficiency, provided you choose the right materials!
Wood has always been a fantastic insulator. Its cellular structure allows for multiple air pockets, which reduce heat conductivity.
When you install a hardwood floor in your home, you are effectively insulating it. What’s more, you are also minimizing the risks of heat loss during cooler seasons.
5. Let’s Talk About What’s in Carpet
Carpet is another popular flooring choice. However, it is one of the least environmentally friendly flooring options out there!
Historically, carpet was made from wool, a natural and biodegradable textile. Today, most carpets are made of synthetic fibers. These are chemically derived and may consist of nylon, polyester, or polypropylene.
Polyester is made from petroleum, used in other processes to create fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are some of the biggest culprits of carbon emissions today.
Synthetic carpets are also non-biodegradable. Their production processes alone produce copious amounts of greenhouse gases.
Hardwood floors are entirely free of synthetic materials. Furthermore, their production processes are energy-efficient and low-carbon.
We’ve mentioned this term quite often in this post.
An object is biodegradable when it can completely and naturally decompose. It does not require additional processing to do so. Plus, all decomposed components are free of chemicals and other artificial ingredients, which can be harmful to soils.
Most raw food items, for example, are biodegradable. The same goes for naturally derived substances and materials.
Eco-friendly building materials often contain biodegradable elements, if they aren’t themselves entirely biodegradable.
Because wood comes from trees, it is entirely biodegradable! This means that centuries from now, your beautiful wood flooring could feasibly return to nature without any harmful effects.
Renewable wood floors, such as those made from bamboo or cork, are prime candidates for biodegradable, naturally sourced flooring.
Your Eco-Friendly Flooring
It’s vital to think about the environment when building or remodeling a home.
Doing so can save you money on energy bills. It can also reduce your carbon footprint, a necessary step for slowing the impact of climate change.
The best eco-friendly flooring is a hardwood floor. While these floors do come from trees, they are generally sourced from older trees. These trees do not absorb as much carbon as younger trees.
Plus, when they’re milled, they do not release any trapped carbon into the atmosphere.
How else can a hardwood floor benefit your home? Visit this post to find out!