Sustainable Foundations By Amy Eagle

Put it There By Amy Eagle

As health care facilities continue to focus on being good environmental stewards, they're having to do considerably more research and ask more questions about the products they buy and those who supply them. It can be a time-consuming task, but one that is ultimately necessary and rewarding.

Like hospitals themselves, many flooring manufacturers have been taking a hard look at their environmental footprints and have taken considerable steps to ensure that their products not only are cost-effective and attractive, but also are manufactured, cared for and disposed of in a responsible manner.

Our lead story in this edition of Interiors explores this issue through a series of conversations with some of the leading flooring manufacturers that serve health care facilities. As you'll see, there is greater emphasis on using a higher percentage of recycled content or natural materials that are renewable. Similarly, many flooring products don't require chemicals to clean or polish, and many firms are managing the entire life cycle of their offerings better — all the way through removal and disposal.

You'll also find examples of how some vendors are providing online calculators and other tools to do things such as determining how a product can contribute to U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design certification.

Our second report examines the many attractive options for implementing effective recycling stations throughout facilities.

Attractive, well-designed recycling stations can provide effective visual cues to reinforce your organization's commitment to reducing your environmental footprint. Many of today's carefully coordinated products also are well-differentiated from waste containers, thereby reducing the chances of even well-intentioned staff or visitors inadvertently placing recyclable materials in trash containers.

This second report also shares some solid online resources that can help you and your organization to improve performance in all areas of sustainability.

A note of acknowledgment

The editors would like to thank the many vendors and health care design firms who participated in this supplement. The following sources provided images used in this project: Advocate Health Care (Downers Grove, Ill.), Armstrong World Industries Inc. (Lancaster, Pa.), Big Belly Solar (Newton, Mass.), Forbo Flooring Systems (Hazelton, Pa.), J+J Flooring Group (Dalton, Ga.), nora systems Inc. (Salem, N.H.), Rubbermaid Commercial Products (Winchester, Va.), Stonhard (Maple Shade Township, N.J.) and TransVac Solutions (Denver).