> Popular and comfortable
> Greener products are now available
> Most synthetic carpets are petroleum based
> Rubberized backings are often loaded with VOCs
> Only a few carpet companies take recycling seriously
CARPET LOOK BELOW THE SURFACE
Carpets have only in the last decade or so come under close scrutiny for their environmental impacts—both in and out of the home. Most commercial carpets are made from some variation of synthetic, petroleum-based material. This material is often treated with other chemicals to improve stain resistance, wear, or color retention. To make matters worse, many carpets are installed over highly toxic rubberized pads. They may also be glued to the floor with pungent adhesives. That new carpet smell you recognize is not something you want in your home. It’s a sign that your floor is releasing unknown chemicals into your living space. This process is called off gassing, and it’s been shown to be especially harmful to toddlers and people with high chemical sensitivity. Frankly, research is lacking on the effects on long-term exposure.
Centralized vacuum systems take even the hardest to capture dust particles away from living areas.
GLOSSARY OF TERMS
KNOW THE LINGO
> Felted Backing
A type of carpet underlayment that can be made greener if produced with natural fibers and less toxic binders. Other harder-to-green types include polyurethane foam and sponge rubber.
> Natural Fiber Carpets
Products made with sisal, wool, or other natural fibers. Size options may be more limited than with synthetic carpets.
> Energy Recovery Ventilator/Heat Recovery Ventilator (ERV/HRV)
Exchange stale air from inside the home with fresh air from outside, while exchanging some energy in the process.
> Vapor Barrier
Typically a synthetic material or coating that restricts or halts the flow of airborne moisture. Not to be confused with housewrap, which is vapor permeable,
Synthetic material that allows water vapor to pass from interior to exterior of a home, yet protects the building from rain and reduces drafts.
Airborne particles that may be a hazard to human health, particularly if they are very small. They should be HEPA filtered or removed from living areas.
CENTRAL VACUUM SYSTEMS
The carpet industry suggests that the average American family uses a vacuum cleaner at least once weekly, while about 10% of us vacuum our homes once or more per day. But the typical upright household vacuum cleaner may not be the solution to clearing the air in a home. These upright units are not created equal. Most lack an effective HEPA filtering system—the only reliable way to capture the fine particles that have been shown to be harmful to human health. On the contrary, a vacuum with a non- HEPA filter may simply toss tiny particles back into the air. A whole-house vacuum solves this problem by actually taking unwanted particles outside the living space—into a garage or unfinished basement.
BEAM SERENITY CENTRAL VACUUM
The Serenity IQS model whole house vacuum can clean even a large house from one centrally located appliance. The 600 watt motor has plenty of power to catch particulates and keep them from re-entering airspace. The 3900A model holds up to seven gallons of dirt and dust. www.beamvac.com
VENMAR EKO 1.5 HEAT RECOVERY VENTILATOR
Operating at just 24 watts (at 49 cfm), the Eko 1.5 is a highly efficient HRV, and a major energy saver in cool climates. It captures up to 80% of the heat energy from stale air that would otherwise be wasted. www.venmar.ca