This was written by Anne Cole, Global Sourcing & Product Development Manager at Emser Tile
Low cost ways to being green friendly.
What most don't think about when building or remodeling green is their flooring. Carpet, for instance, typically is replaced every 8 to 10 years and hardwood flooring can be green depending on the type of wood chosen (slow growth wood such as rainforest woods, are not good). What is best is porcelain or ceramic tiles. The best tiles, manufactured in a green friendly way, are Italian. The Italian government mandates recycling of water, dust collection, natural gas kilns, etc. Now, they have developed a way to get LEED points by recycling 40% of dusts back into the clay. Ceramic and porcelain is considered more permanent than any other flooring. It does not need harsh chemicals to be maintained and typically is not replaced but every 20 years unlike other flooring.
The only disagreement I have with the USGBC is mandating how many miles from the factory that raw materials can be bought, etc. Think that containers coming over on a huge vessel use a lot less fuel than individual trucks.
The Italians (and most European countries) place the importance on the method of manufacturing which reduces pollutions on many different levels. They also are the best tile manufacturer's in the world.
It is a pity that China has taken a huge chunk of the European business. China, so far, does not manufacture green friendly at all and the pollutants are huge. For a little more expense, you can achieve LEED points, have quality tiles that have been manufactured green.