When providing a green flooring system for customers or clients, carry-through counts. Green underlayment under environmentally friendly commercial and residential flooring completes the deal.

Installed beneath most any finished flooring option, from engineered wood and hardwood to tile, stone and carpet, green underlayment confers an array of short- and long-term advantages. Benefits include healthier indoor air quality and lower energy costs for consumers and building owners in winter and summer alike.  

According to EPA studies, levels of air pollution within a home are often up to five times higher than outdoor levels. Indeed, poor indoor air quality can contribute to a wide variety of persistent health problems, including eye irritation, asthma, headaches, and allergies.

Matching a new flooring system with underlayment manufactured without VOCs or other gaseous pollutants can help enhance indoor air quality by minimizing or eliminating the effects of outgassing throughout the life of the installation.

Underlayment made with synthetic fibers, which do not support the growth of bacteria and fungus, may also include an EPA registered anti-microbial. Anti-microbials inhibit mold growth and prevent dust mite colonies by destroying the symbiotic fungi they depend on, making the underlayment hypoallergenic and helping prevent development of unwanted microbes.

An underlayment with an R-Value of at least .50 provides a thermal break to the flooring assembly that helps keep floors warm in the winter and cool in the summer, reducing energy consumption year round.

Some green underlayments can be glued directly to old VCT or non-cushioned sheet vinyl, thus eliminating the potential problem of exposing harmful asbestos elements. That can be a big relief to homeowners and one less concern for renovators of commercial property. Additionally, underlayment manufactured substantially or entirely from post-industrial/pre-consumer fibers rescues all that material from becoming waste destined for the landfill.

In an ongoing LEED project, environmentally friendly underlayment may contribute to the earning of LEED credits in material and resources (because of the recycled materials) and in indoor air quality (because of meeting the standards for low emissions).

Underlayment that is third party certified by the manufacturer to meet various recognized stringent green criteria is widely available. Third-party certifiers include Green Seal (www.greenseal.org), an independent non-profit organization that uses science-based standards to help manufacturers, purchasers and end-users make environmentally responsible choices; and Scientific Certification Systems (www.scscertified.com), a global leader in the independent certification of environmental and sustainability claims. SCS’s highest level of indoor environmental quality certification, which tests for limits of 80 VOCs, is Indoor Advantage Gold.

Eco-friendly underlayments are often competitively priced and should be positioned as a value-added product. Selling points abound. The economic, performance and other benefits of a well-designed environmentally friendly underlayment - features which can and should be noted in sales presentations - include:

*energy savings because of reduced demand for energy

*a full complement of performance advantages: dampening ambient sound, providing moisture protection, acting as an insulating layer (providing a thermal break) and, under tile, helping prohibit the spread of stress cracks from the subfloor to the tile above

*contributing to a healthy indoor environment when used as part of a well-design building project or renovation

*components consistent with green building guidelines

*manufacturing process may also be designed specifically to be eco-friendly to the global environment.

For anyone concerned with the environment, green underlayment is certainly a step in the right direction.