The best eco-friendly floor options for your home

November 29, 2018 by  
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Indoor pollutant levels can be up to five times higher than they are outside,  according to the EPA , and all you have to do to find the source of many of those pollutants is to look down at your floor. When you install traditional carpet or flooring it can fill the air in your home with hundreds of volatile compounds, including possible carcinogens, and it can take years for those compounds to disappear. To make matters worse, we often treat our carpets with toxic chemicals , and they are notorious for trapping lawn chemicals and allergens that we track in from the outside. Here are six ideas for durable, stylish and often less expensive  eco-friendly flooring options  that you can install to enhance your home. If you would like to minimize indoor pollution and reduce health problems caused by toxic flooring, you can now choose from flooring and carpets made from eco-friendly materials. Using eco-friendly materials in your home no longer means it will look boring and bland thanks to manufacturers stepping up and offering more beautiful, sustainable options. Green carpet If you prefer soft floors, there are carpet options that are not harmful to the environment or your health. Wool carpet comes from a natural resource that can be dyed any color and it is so durable it can last for decades. Other natural materials to look for when buying carpet or rugs is cotton, jute, and sisal. Polyester (P.E.T.) Berber carpet is another sustainable option that is made from recycled plastic bottles and has little environmental impact. It is durable, spill resistant, and comes in a variety of patterns and colors. It does have a few drawbacks, though. You can easily snag Berber and cause it to unravel and it can be a bit tough to walk on with bare feet. Bamboo This sustainable flooring option is easy to install and even easier to maintain. Bamboo is a grass that has similar characteristics as hardwood, but it grows to maturity in just three to five years, as opposed to the twenty years that trees can take. You can find bamboo in different colors and grains, and you can customize it in ways that you can’t do with other materials. Concrete Polished concrete is a sustainable material that can give your home an industrial look and feel, and it has gained popularity in recent years. You can polish and tint your concrete floors to match your taste, and you can inlay other materials, designs , or effects. Concrete is durable, easy to clean, and you will never have to replace it. Cork One of the newest options in the flooring market, cork has antimicrobial properties that will reduce the allergens in your home, is fire retardant, naturally repels insects, and is easy to maintain. You can find cork in a variety of colors and stains that can match any design style or color scheme. It is so durable that you can use it in any part of your home, and the floors can last up to thirty years. Glass tiles Beautiful glass tiles come from recycled beer and wine bottles, and they are quickly becoming a popular option for floors and bathroom and kitchen walls. Glass tile floors do not absorb moisture, and they will not mildew or mold in a damp environment. They are also extremely easy to maintain, and they come in every color and pattern you can think of. They also reflect light instead of absorbing it like ceramic tiles do, and that can give a darker room some extra light. Rubber This eco-friendly floor option is making its way into more and more homes because it is beautiful, versatile, and it lasts. Plus, it comes in many different colors and patterns. Rubber flooring comes from recycled tires, and in the past, you mostly found it at the neighborhood playground or local gym. But now, people are installing it in their kitchens and bathrooms because it is great to walk on and it is water resistant. Via Freshome Images via kazuend , Marco Bianchetti , pix24 ,  Goh Rhy Yan and Shutterstock

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REPREVE: sustainable multi-use fiber made from recycled water bottles

November 29, 2018 by  
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Single-use water bottles have become a target for environmentalists concerned about the amount of petroleum required for each bottle and the massive amounts of waste generated from their short lives. But in recent years, companies have begun to use tossed-aside plastic in new and exciting ways. REPREVE, a sustainable fiber created from 100 percent food-quality and BPA-free post-consumer plastic, has opened up the door to give companies new options when sourcing eco-friendly materials. While using  recycled fibers is not new in the manufacturing world, Unifi, a leading global textile solutions company and the producer of REPREVE, has refined a process that allows it to create multiple fibers from the same material including nylon, thread, polyester and other fibers. Related: Clothing made from recycled water bottles highlights the ongoing crisis in Flint Unifi completes the water bottle-to-fabric process in a few stages. Beginning with the water bottles returned by consumers, Unifi transfers them to a modern bottle processing center where they keep a quarter of a million water bottles out of the waste stream each hour. Once broken down into a fine material called flake, the flake is then sent to the REPREVE recycling center where it is blended, melted and turned into small chips that are stored onsite in large silos. Each silo holds the equivalent of 27 million water bottles. The manufacturing plant itself is dedicated to zero-waste production as well. Related: Ford to recycle 2 million plastic bottles into fabric for its Focus Electric Dozens of companies are on board with the idea of incorporating the REPREVE fibers into their products. Backpacks, socks, dog beds, cloth car seat covers, activewear, dress pants, jeans, swimwear, flags and heat wraps are just a few products donning the REPREVE symbol. Notable companies supporting the sustainable practices of REPREVE include PrAna, Patagonia, Roxy, Quicksilver, Lane Bryant, Fossil and Ford Motor Co. In fact, Unifi lists over 60 companies using its products on its website. This is no surprise, considering the versatility of the materials created through the process. “Unifi’s advanced performance technologies provide textile solutions like moisture wicking, stretch, water-repellency and enhanced softness. Our technologies can be combined with REPREVE to offer increased performance, comfort and style advantages, enabling customers to develop products that are good for the planet, plus truly perform, look and feel better,” said Kevin Hall, chairman and CEO of Unifi. “REPREVE® is an innovative brand of fibers, chip and flake that is made from 100 percent recycled materials, including plastic bottles,” Hall added. “REPREVE’s U Trust® Verification program is a comprehensive certification designed to provide customers with a higher level of transparency. Unifi’s proprietary FiberPrint® technology is used to analyze the fabric content and composition to determine if REPREVE is present and in the right amounts. REPREVE is also third party certified.” The company takes pride in a robust, full-cycle dedication to sustainability through obtaining the proper certifications. + Repreve Images via Unifi

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REPREVE: sustainable multi-use fiber made from recycled water bottles

Foster + Partners designs solar-powered Tulip observation tower for London

November 29, 2018 by  
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London’s iconic Gherkin landmark could be getting a striking and futuristic new neighbor — if plans for Foster + Partners’ The Tulip are approved. Proposed for a site next to The Gherkin — the Stirling Prize-winning 30 St Mary Axe building also designed by Foster + Partners — the conceptual observation tower would serve as a new cultural attraction and educational facility with unparalleled 360-degree views of London. The nature-inspired building would target a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating and would be powered by integrated photovoltaic cells as well as zero-combustion technology. Created in partnership with The Gherkin owner J. Safra Group, The Tulip tower would soar to a height of 1,000 feet and be built with a high-strength concrete shaft with steel-framed observation deck levels. Key to the design is the sky-high classroom that would offer 20,000 free places per year for London’s state school children. Residents and tourists will also be able to enjoy the viewing galleries connected to sky bridges, internal glass slides and even gondola pod rides built along the building’s facade. The visitor experience will be heightened with interactive materials and information about the history of London, a sky bar and restaurants. On the ground level, The Tulip would include a new, 1,400-square-foot pocket park along with a two-story visitor pavilion with a publicly accessible green roof and two green walls. The addition of landscaping would increase the site’s green surface area by 8.5 times. Related: Foster + Partners’ DJI HQ will be a “creative community in the sky” “Continuing the pioneering design of 30 St Mary Axe, the Tulip is in the spirit of London as a progressive, forward- thinking city,” said Norman Foster, founder and executive chairman of Foster + Partners. “It offers significant benefits to Londoners and visitors as a cultural and social landmark with unmatched educational resources for future generations.” If The Tulip proposal is approved, construction could begin in 2020 with completion projected for 2025. + Foster + Partners Images via DBOX / Foster + Partners

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Hong Kongs greenest school champions environmental stewardship

October 22, 2018 by  
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Copenhagen-based Henning Larsen Architects has unveiled images of its recently completed French International School of Hong Kong – Tseung Kwan O, a colorful and energy-efficient development that the firm has declared as the city’s “greenest school.” Designed to promote sustainability, the new primary and secondary school serves as a green oasis in the city. Boasting significant water savings and sewage reduction, the school is designed to meet Building Environmental Assessment Method (BEAM) Plus Gold standards, a Hong Kong rating tool for green construction. Completed in September, the new campus of the French International School serves 1,100 students in a multicultural learning environment — the student body represents 40 nationalities — that champions collaboration and sustainability. Its distinctive facade speaks to the diverse campus vision and features a grid of 627 multicolored ceramic tiles. In addition to the primary and secondary classrooms, the campus includes a library, a canteen, a gymnasium, a swimming pool, an auditorium with a multifunctional arena, multiple gardens and a 400-meter-long track called “The Loop” that connects the campus playgrounds and gardens. A healthy environment is promoted through ample green space, which improves urban air quality, provides natural shading and creates a green refuge in an urban environment where access to nature is limited. A total of 42 native trees grow within the campus, and the Native Garden offers educational opportunities. The interior is dressed in eco-friendly surface materials including natural rubber floors, bamboo ceilings, non-toxic paints and fabrics made from pure wool. The buildings are oriented to optimize access to natural daylight and seaborne winds to minimize the need for air conditioning and artificial lighting. Low-flow fixtures offer up to 30 percent water savings. Related: Henning Larsen unveils green, mountain-inspired buildings for Shanghai The learning environment is further enhanced with improved room acoustics, reduced background noise and a layout that encourages team building. “We dissolved the traditional classrooms,” said Claude Godefroy, design director and partner at Henning Larsen Hong Kong. “We pushed boundaries on how learning spaces can allow teachers and classes to work together in a more collaborative, open space.” + Henning Larsen Photos by Philippe Ruault

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