For our commercial tenant improvement project we chose to go with a “green” carpet. The critical things to look for when picking a commercial grade environmentally sustainable carpet is 1) what is the carpet top made of; 2) what is the backing material made of; 3) what type of adhesives will be used.
Carpet Top: The carpet that we selected is Shaw Eco Solution Q. Is premium nylon carpet. The carpet top is made of 25% recycled content. Any amount of recycled content helps reduce the amount of raw materials use to create the carpet.
Carpet Backing: The backing of the carpet is Shaw EcoWorx. EcoWorx is marketed as the first 100% sustainable non-PVC tile carpet backing. Based on my research I’ve learned that for the last 25 years PVC backed carpet has been predominately used. This is bad because PVC backed carpet can’t be recycled. The PVC backing contaminates the yarn. This means once the carpet has reached the end of its useful life it ends up going into the landfill. By using EcoWorx, our carpet will be recycled when it reaches the end of its useful life.
Carpet Adhesives: The carpet adhesive is Shaw 5000 Pressure Sensitive Adhesive. It is a low-VOC adhesive as its VOC properties are negligible. This means better air quality for everyone working inside our space. For more details about why indoor air quality is important please read my other post on this subject. Of all the various materials brought into our space, the Shaw 5000 adhesive definitely has the strongest smell. Most things like the paint have been nearly odorless. Even though the Shaw 5000 contains no solvents, alcohol, ammonia, is non-toxic, non-flammable, no calculated VOC’s, and is anti-microbial it still has a pretty strong smell. The smell is not over powering, does not cause your eyes to water, give you headaches, or harm your body in any way, but I was a bit surprised with the odor. The adhesive was rolled onto the concrete surface and allowed to sit for a day prior to putting down the carpet tile. By allowing it to dry it become very tacky but allows the carpet tile to be removed if necessary. If the carpet was put down immediately after the adhesive was applied (when wet), then the carpet would be permanently installed and very difficult to remove in the future.
At the end of the carpet installation, all of the scraps will be collected and sent back to Shaw to be recycled.
We decided to use a carpet tile instead of carpet delivered on a roll. The carpet tile we picked came to us in boxes containing 24”x24” carpet tiles. Commercial carpet needs to be very durable, handle high traffic wear, be stain and color resistant, and provide a high fire rating. Using carpet tile is a smart choice for Thinkspace because we are in the executive office suite industry which means we have a high traffic wear. The other big bonus for us is in case there is permanent damage from coffee or copy toner spills inside the private offices, we will not have to replace the carpet in the entire office, rather, we can just swap out the stained carpet tiles and replace it from a less visible area or quickly put in a new tile. It allows us to keep the space looking clean and new and keep our maintenance costs down.