How is sustainability shaping the flooring industry?

Sustainability is a term that’s gained considerable traction in the world of construction over the last few years. When we build things, it’s worth building them in a way that can be sustained over years, with minimal impact on the environment.

In the UK, the government has committed to reaching net zero by 2050. This means that we’ll be removing more carbon from the atmosphere than we’re releasing into it. Construction is an industry that really has to clean up its act, since it’s responsible for around a third of emissions in the UK.

Why sustainability is going to become more important

Part of the reason that we might expect sustainability to become more of a concern in years to come is that very many young people are more concerned about the state of the natural world than are older people. This makes sense, since younger people are more likely to be around to see 2050 and beyond.

What about flooring?

Flooring plays a critical role in the structure of any building, and its thermal properties. Ideally, a flooring product should be easy to source without damaging the natural world. Moreover, it should have good thermal performance, so that the overall energy-efficiency of the property is optimised. The flooring industry has begun to take greater responsibility for the materials it uses – which extends not just to the flooring products themselves, but to the tools and adhesives used to install those products.

What might consumers ask for in the future?

To survive and prosper in the long-term, the construction industry will need to do more than adapt to the current regulatory environment, and to the needs and tastes of consumers. It’ll also need to anticipate further chances, and more environmentalism. Both major political parties in the UK are committed to net zero, and the public are likely to become more invested in the green agenda, rather than less.

For business, this means being pro-active, and trying to go green now in preparation for a future where it’s demanded. This will provide firms with a competitive advantage in a marketplace where environmentalism is prized.

What materials to choose?

Undoubtedly the most sustainable kind of material is timber. Timber can be re-grown in a sense that limestone and porcelain cannot – and there are considerable processing costs associated with the latter. Cork and bamboo can be extracted in a way that’s extremely sustainable. In the former case, the tree itself doesn’t need to be chopped down, while in the latter case, the tree grows back so quickly that it doesn’t matter. Modern linoleum, recycled composites, and engineered products all deserve an honourable mention, too.