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Why Bamboo Floors Won’t Make Your House Green

Why Bamboo Floors Won’t Make Your House Green

By Carl Seville, Networx

Along with†solar panels, so called ďgreenĒ bamboo floors are another stereotypical material that people latch onto when thinking about green homes.† In the same way that those solar panels wonít make your house green all by themselves, neither will calling in a†flooring contractor to install bamboo floors, unless, of course, you do everything else right.

No product in itself will make a home green, and, in fact, you donít necessarily need to use ďgreenĒ products to make a home green.† With the exception of a few very toxic materials, almost any common building products, when used properly as part of the whole house system, can contribute to a green home.† You can put in all the green materials you want into a house, but if you donít build it right, it will never be green.

Generally, bamboo floors are a good, sustainable product.††Bamboo is a grass that grows very fast, so harvesting it instead of using old growth wood can be a good thing, but not always.† In some countries, forests are being cut down just to grow bamboo to meet market demand.† This isnít good – retaining old forests is better for the environment than creating new bamboo plantations.†† On top of this, most bamboo flooring is glued and finished before it arrive son the jobsite, often with adhesives and sealers that contain urea formaldehyde, an irritant and carcinogen that you need to keep out of a green home.† There are bamboo floors made with materials that come from sustainable plantations and have no urea formaldehyde in processing, but they are not always easy to find.

The real reason bamboo wonít make your house green is that the finish flooring is only a small part of a green home.††Green building includes energy efficiency, indoor air quality, durability, resource efficiency, water efficiency, reduced impact on the community and the site, and educating homeowners so they know how to manage them to remain efficient, healthy, and durable.

Bamboo, (without urea formaldehyde) can help improve the indoor air quality because it is easy to clean and doesnít collect dirt like carpet.† If it is harvested from a place that didnít replace a forest, then it could be an efficient use of resources.† If it is made in a factory that treats their employees well and is a safe place to work, then it can have a positive impact on the community where it is made.† But it wonít have any impact on energy efficiency, water efficiency, or the local site conditions.† So, if you install bamboo in a house that isnít efficient, doesnít use materials or water efficiently, and negatively impacts the building site, no matter how sustainably that bamboo is harvested and manufactured, your house will never be green.

Remember,†green building is all about the process.† The building needs to be designed and built properly, taking into consideration all the aspects of green building.† Products are secondary.† If the process is bad, no amount of green materials will make it better.

Image: vicki moore / Flickr Creative Commons

Green building consultant Carl Seville is a†contractor in Atlanta. Get more green home ideas†like this on Networx.

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Read more: Conservation, Crafts & Design, Eco-friendly tips, Green, Green Home Decor, Home, Household Hints, Materials & Architecture,

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1:00AM PDT on May 29, 2013

You have done really a superb job with your web site. Marvelous stuff is here to read.

10:19PM PDT on Jun 1, 2012

Various equipment are being prepared from bamboo, which are in good demand in the market. But cutting down to forest to make a green home is very bad.
Green Flooring

1:12PM PST on Feb 23, 2012

Thank you for the educational article.

6:26PM PST on Feb 20, 2012

Thanks for reminder: greenwashing is real and we need to do our research.

However, I have to agree with Lauryn S that steps should be counted even if they haven't yet added up to a whole.

11:09AM PST on Feb 18, 2012


11:05AM PST on Feb 18, 2012


9:28AM PST on Feb 15, 2012


If you "install bamboo in a house that isn’t efficient, doesn’t use materials or water efficiently, and negatively impacts the building site, no matter how sustainably that bamboo is harvested and manufactured," the house as a whole may not be "green," but that doesn't mean that a properly-installed bamboo floor is not a step towards a greener home.

This should have been a useful article, in educating people to make sure that bamboo bought is not treated with toxins and that toxic glue is not used, and adding that we also need to take many other steps to really "green" our homes; but instead, the author chose to make an entirely negative, bafflingly misguided claim that just because bamboo flooring is not a "magic bullet" that will take care of all home greening issues, and therefore won't make a home "green" all by itself, that it's not a "green" choice. What a stupidly angled article.

9:26AM PST on Feb 15, 2012

Why such a negative article and title? The title should have been "How to have your bamboo floors installed in a green way," or "Make sure your bamboo floors are actually "green"," rather than this bizarre allegation in the title. Bamboo floors, finished and installed properly and "greenly," WILL, in fact, make a home greener than a non-green alternative, and I'm certain that no one on this site would think that green flooring would be anything more than a "small part of a green home." To make the nonsensical assertion that "The real reason bamboo won’t make your house green is that the finish flooring is only a small part of a green home" is like saying that broccoli isn't healthy because it's not enough by itself to make a fast-food diet healthy.

Bamboo's lack of impact on "energy efficiency, water efficiency, or the local site conditions" does NOT make it NOT a step towards a green home. It IS, of course, a step towards a green home, if chosen over other non-green alternatives and installed properly. This article's allegation that "bamboo will not make your house green" just because it only DOES WHAT IT'S SUPPOSED TO DO and isn't some "magic bullet" for EVERY home-greening issue is absurd. If you "install bamboo in a house that isn’t efficient, doesn’t use materials or water efficiently, and negatively impacts the building site, no matter how sustainably that bamboo is harvested and manufactured," the house as a whole may not be "green," but that doesn't

12:49AM PST on Feb 15, 2012

The writer never mentioned the transportation of the product and all that entails!

I don't agree with the message of this article, I come away from reading this with the feeling of 'just give up and do nothing'. I totally disagree with that attitude. Putting solar panels on the roof to heat your water instead of using electricity or gas is not going to green you whole house but it is a positive step. Using an electric/gas system is adding on to the problem and doing nothing towards helping solve it. I think every bit helps. And a person can only do what they can. If I can't afford to build a new house and make it green I can still use green utilities within my old non-green abode!
I won't rip up the tiles on the floor and replace them with bamboo...

5:54PM PST on Feb 10, 2012

Wow. Good points. You tend to forget everything else that is involved with creating a green product.

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Thank you.

Yes, I do: vegan and mostly raw :)

Thank you for this very informative article.


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