Gray Wood Floors: This Is Where They’re Coming From
By 2020, all new flooring will be made from sustainable materials, according to a new report.
The report, from a coalition of sustainable building and urban design groups, argues that flooring is the most significant environmental challenge facing modern cities and that designers must make the transition now to reduce its environmental footprint and its negative impacts.
“It’s time to look at the building materials we use, and how we can get to a sustainable future,” said Rob Taylor, founder and executive director of the coalition.
“It’s going to be a challenge, because the materials we are using today are not sustainable, but we need to find ways to do better.”
The report, released on Tuesday, comes amid mounting calls for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be scaled back, with many countries considering the goals outdated and unrealistic.
“I think it’s a very difficult call to make, to scale the SDGs up, but it is an important call,” said Benjamin Moll, the president of the Urban Design Institute in the US.
“The sustainability of our buildings is not just about our buildings, it’s about the people who live and work in them.”
The Sustainable Buildings Initiative, which has been campaigning for a target of 80% renewable energy in urban planning and building, is hoping to persuade governments to change course on the SDG target by 2030.
“The big challenge is that the SDg targets are very much about sustainability, and there are a lot of people who don’t believe that we can make those targets sustainable,” said Mark Johnson, the chief sustainability officer of the group.
“But the key point is that we need a vision for sustainable cities.”
To meet the target, the coalition’s report argues that designers should be given access to new and cheaper materials, and to make buildings more environmentally friendly.
“We need to be using more environmentally sound materials,” said Taylor.
“We need new materials, we need new building designs that are designed to last for many, many decades.”
In its report, the Sustainable Buildings Institute said the use of grey wood floors was one of the biggest issues affecting building sustainability in cities.
“Grey wood floors are the most prevalent material in our building construction in the developing world,” said the report.
“More than a third of our building materials are grey wood.”
It said it was important that the industry move towards using recycled materials, as it is “one of the cheapest and easiest ways to produce materials and materials that last for years and years”.
“Grey wood is also an ideal material for energy saving because it is light weight, it is a good conductor, it has very low moisture content, it doesn’t need any special treatment,” said Moll.
The report also said that designers could be more aggressive in the use and installation of insulation in buildings, as this could make buildings less susceptible to global warming.
“Insulation in buildings is a huge environmental problem, especially in cities,” said Johnson.
“In the UK, we have to use a huge amount of insulation on buildings, in the UK alone.
There is an enormous amount of energy wasted in the building industry.”
There were some encouraging signs, however, for sustainability in the construction industry, the report noted.
“A major milestone in this area was the installation of a new building in Australia using reclaimed grey wood flooring,” said its co-author, Paul Anderson, who is an environmental consultant.
“This is a really big step forward in the development of sustainable materials and a huge step forward on our global sustainability goals.”
The survey of 3,500 architects and designers was conducted between September and November, and included a range of sustainability issues.