ecotecture.GIF (12664 bytes)

Department of   Design and Environmental Analysis,
Cornell University
  1. External Considerations

  2. Core & Envelope

  3. Indoor Ecology

  4. Material/Product Content

  5. Ecotecture Worksheets

  6. Additional  information.

  7. Case Studies

Use the table of contents to go directly to specific topics:



Flooring and Carpet

Design Considerations:

Natural or Recycled -  Select flooring products that contain recycled content and may be recycled themselves.  All attempts should be made to select flooring products that have minimum emissions to prevent an accumulation of chemicals in the indoor environment.  Consider reusing textiles from a previous location.

Raw Materials Acquisition - Recycling of materials is desirable and provisions should be made when possible for the reuse of all products by the manufacturer.    

Raw Materials Processing and Manufacturing -  Avoid using flooring products that require high amount of embodied energy to build and create a potential environmental desecration through the chemical production.  Criteria for materials should be set to conserve resources.  Questions such as: Is it needed?  Is there a substitute with lower mass and/or lower embodied energy?

Product Distribution -  Use flooring products that have been manufactured in an "sustaining" manner. Consider the environmental impacts of flooring transportation in your purchasing decision.  Product that can be shipped in large bulk or that do not need to be transported over long distances reduce the embodied energy used; products produced locally in a region help support local economies; products should be selected that  are climatically appropriate solutions for that region; consider the impact of product selection on the user's sense of culture and community.

No / Low Emissions-   Look for products that do not pollute the air inside the building.  Toxicity of emissions from materials should be carefully reviewed to protect indoor air quality, paying particular attention to exposure limits and known medical hazards. For textured floor materials look for carpet that has the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) "green label": 

Emissions from carpet meeting the "green label" specifications will not exceed:

  • 0.5 mg/m2 hr TVOC (total volatile organic compounds)
  • 0.4 mg/m2 hr Styrene
  • 0.1 mg/m2 hr 4-phenylcyclohexene (4-PC)
  • 0.05 mg/m2 nr HCHO (formaldehyde)

Emissions from flooring adhesives that meet the CRI "green label" will not exceed:

  • 10.0 mg/m2 hr TVOC
  • 3.0 mg/m2 hr 2-ethly-1-hexanol
  • 0.05 mg/m2 HCHO

Disposal & Renewability- Attempts should be made to use recyclable or biodegradable materials.  


Consult IAQ Spec List for manufacturers and product test results.
Air Quality Sciences, Inc. Atlanta, GA
Consult MSDS sheets for all materials

Case Studies to Research:

Further Information:
-The Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings
-Primer on Sustainable Building
Rocky Mountain Institute
-The Green Pages:  The Contract Interior Designer's Guide to Environmentally Responsible Products and Materials.  
Kim Nadel, C.I.D. & Andrew Fuston, Co-Authors
399 4th St., Brooklyn, NY 11215

-Interior Concerns Resource Guide
Victoria Schomer
131 W. Blithedale, Mill Valley, CA 94941
-Sourcebook for Sustainable Design
Boston Society of Architects
52 Broad St., Boston, MA. 02109
-The Natural Home, Bierman-Lytle, Paul and Marinelli, Janet
“Green Market.”  Sutton, Katherine Day. Interiors Vol. 157, No. 1. January 1998, p. 38.

Web resources: 

-Carpet and Rug Institute
-Oikos:  Green Building Source
-Global Environmental Options
-Indra's Net
-Environlink's Internet Green Marketplace
-Energy Efficient Environments, Inc.
-Real Goods Trading Company:  Real Goods Catalog
-Sustainable Economy by BusinessWeek






































Cornell University, December, 1998