Environmental comparison of indoor floor coverings


Autores: Ros-Dosdá, T. et Al

Appropriate selection of construction materials plays a major role in a building’s sustainable profile. The study sets out a comparative life cycle assessment of indoor flooring systems of different nature. The flooring systems consisted of coverings and, where required, bonding material and/or impact soundproofing material. The following coverings were assessed: inorganic (natural stone and ceramic tiles), polymer (carpeting and PVC), and wood-based (laminate and parquet) coverings. The life cycle assessment scope was defined cradle to cradle, i.e. product stage, transport to the construction site, installation of all construction elements, use, and valorisation by recycling, as end-of-life transition scenario towards a circular economy. In the use stage, three scenarios were defined as a function of pedestrian traffic intensity, which determined maintenance, repair, and replacement operations and frequencies. The environmental impacts of the coverings product stage were taken from previously assessed and selected Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), as these are standardised public documents devised to provide environmental life cycle information. The method adopted in the study suggests that, though the use of EPDs as information source is interesting, erroneous conclusions may be drawn if the EPDs are not comparable and/or if the comparison is not made in the building context. The results indicate that the flooring systems with inorganic coverings performed best in the global warming, acidification, eutrophication, photochemical ozone creation, and abiotic depletion for fossil resources impact categories, whereas laminates performed best in the abiotic depletion for non-fossil resources and ozone layer depletion impact categories. The carpet flooring system performed worst in every impact category except photochemical ozone creation potential.

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