In our last post we shared how you can choose sustainable flooring for your home by opting for eco-friendly hardwood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. But choosing reclaimed and/or FSC-certified floors isn't the only way to 'go green' at home. A sustainable home extends to the materials you use in installing, refinishing and cleaning your hardwood floors, and the effect those materials have on your indoor air quality.
How to Improve Indoor Air Quality in Your Home
Before you can improve your home’s indoor air quality, you need to understand how volatile organic compounds (VOCs) relate. VOCs are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Because organic chemicals are widely used as ingredients in household products like paints, varnishes and many cleaning products, the concentration of many VOCs are up to ten times higher indoors than outdoors. This is why it’s important to carefully choose the products you use in your home.
- Use safe products. San Jose Hardwood Floors’ team of experts recommends using Bona Low VOC Products as a good way to keep your flooring sustainable and protect the indoor air quality of your home. Bona floor cleaning products are certified by GREENGUARD, ensuring they are safe for floors, families and the environment. San Jose Hardwood Floors is proud to be an authorized retailer for Bona and backed up by their lifetime support program.
- Decorate with greenery. Another way to keep VOCs low is to decorate your home with a few of the best plants for indoor air quality. From aloe, chrysanthemum and English ivy to azalea, Chinese evergreen and more, there are at least 15 plants that can help remove various types of VOCs like formaldehyde and benzene. Just make sure you have a plate or bowl under any of your indoor pots to protect your flooring from moisture!
How to Reduce the Lead in Your Home
Here’s another component to a sustainable home: getting and keeping the lead out of every room.
As the EPA states on its website, “Lead is a toxic metal that was used for many years in paint and other products found in and around our homes…Lead may cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death.” It also notes that the most common sources of lead poisoning are deteriorating lead-based paint and lead contaminated dust.
How can you get the lead out of your home? A good place to start is to check the EPA’s website to make sure your renovator firm has their lead safe certification. This is one key step in making sure your home renovation is lead safe.
The EPA is also a great resource for information. Their lead safe renovation, repair and painting page shows that even simple procedures like containing the work area, minimizing dust and cleaning up thoroughly can make a difference. Their resource center provides information about studies, courses and materials that can help answer a lot of your questions, as can the lead hotline.
Additional Resources for a Sustainable Home
Sometimes it can seem like alphabet soup when you start trying to make your home more sustainable. Acronyms like EPA, FSC, LED and GBCI start cropping up as you look at products and talk to retailers. What do these abbreviations mean? And are they really important for you to know about as you pick new flooring?
It turns out that each of these acronyms stand for an important element of green building. Here are the basics you need to know:
- EPA - The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) strives to protect human health and the environment by developing programs, providing grants, collaborating with the government, researching products and more. As we mentioned above, the agency is also a great resource for homeowners looking for a wide variety of information.
- FSC - The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) plays a big role in sustainable hardwood flooring. An international not-for-profit organization, the council sets industry standards, finds solutions for bad forestry practices and promotes responsible management of forests around the world.
- GBCI - The Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) recognizes organizations with strong green building practices around the world by providing third-party certifications and credentials. The institute provides various resources for homeowners that can be helpful during the floor remodeling process as well.
- LEED - Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) provides independent verification that a home is designed and built using methods aimed at achieving human an environmental health such as saving water, being energy efficient, using sustainable materials, etc. The organization's rating systems evaluate everything from new and existing buildings and homes to schools, neighborhoods and more.
- VOCs - As shared above, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are potentially hazardous substances omitted as a gas from certain solids and liquids, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. It's important to keep these compounds in mind as you select products to install and use throughout your home so you and your family can keep breathing the highest quality air possible.
Of course, there are more acronyms you may stumble across as you research the floors you want in your home. As always, feel free to ask our experts if you have any questions about sustainable flooring or if you simply want to know more about the EPA, FSC, GBCI or any other abbreviation you don’t understand.
Want more ideas for keeping your eco-friendly floors in good condition and indoor air quality high? Contact us for more ideas or for a free in-home estimate, and come visit our showroom to see the wide variety of sustainable flooring products we have available!