Building owners and facilities managers are presented with many challenges during installation when replacing carpet or other flooring in occupied buildings – from controlling indoor air quality (IAQ) to dealing with tenant complaints. The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 30 percent of new and newly remodeled buildings globally have IAQ problems, and according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), IAQ problems in the United States alone cost businesses about $60 billion annually in lost productivity and illness.
Factors Contributing to IAQ Issues
While there are a number of factors that contribute to less-than-favorable IAQ conditions during flooring installations, the chemicals found in paints and primers, stripping products, cleaners, and adhesives glue are often identified as possible sources of concern. Emissions from the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in these products are often thought to be the biggest culprits, but strong odor is another factor affecting the air quality in buildings.
Typical tenant complaints during remodeling or renovation include headaches and nausea, which often lead to a loss in productivity. Take steps to help reduce the number of tenant complaints, including asking your contractors and installers: “Are you using the lowest emitting, lowest odor, most environmentally responsible products available?”
Many flooring contractors and installers only consider environmental factors during installations if buildings in which they are working are either labeled “green” or are considered to be IAQ-sensitive (such as healthcare facilities, nursing homes, and schools).
The W.W. Henry Co. recently reported one of many successful installations of its new environmentally friendly GreenLine™ GL62 carpet adhesive at a fully-functioning radio station in Greenville, SC. The appeal of GL62 for the station definitely was its “low odor.” Since the equipment is critical to operations, station management needed to be able to continue using the studio to stay on the air. The building manager wanted to get the installation done with the least possible disruption and after-effects. Key selling points were no lingering odor and minimal staff downtime. The installers noted the GL62 adhesive didn’t smell like a regular adhesive and were delighted with its grab and bond, describing GreenLine’s performance as equal or superior to even the most aggressive solvent-based adhesives.
While environmentally friendly adhesives tend to cost more than their standard counterparts, the benefits of reducing tenant complaints and not having to schedule installations for off-hours far outweigh the price difference. They may not solve all of your problems, but it should help reduce some of your headaches.
Ray Clarke is director of marketing for Aliquippa, PA-based Ardex Engineered Cements and The W.W. Henry Co. (www.wwhenry.com).