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Sustainability and sourdough

WHAT does sourdough have in common with LVT flooring? As I’ll explain, small differences in the production process can have a huge impact.

Sourdough bread made with local organic flour is not only the healthiest bread we can eat but also supports the health of the planet. Compare this to mass produced poor quality sliced loaves with no concern for the environment and you can see that the choices we make can protect not only ourselves but also our landscape and our future.

Sustainable design is evolving to put place, health and wellbeing at the core of the design process. At Karndean, we are committed to producing stylish and durable floors with the lowest possible impact on the environment across the entire life cycle of the product. With the accreditations to back this up, all our product ranges come with product specific, region specific Environmental Product Declarations (EPD). We are using this information to drive change globally, improving our production methods and innovating to design the flooring of the future.

What is an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)
An EPD is an independently authenticated document that quantifies a product’s environmental impact. Providing a standardised comparison of product options, this information aims to help specifiers make fully informed decisions.

Featuring a range of product specific data, from production through operation to disposal at end of life, the EPD offers reassurance that a product will meet a project’s stringent technical specifications, including LEED and BREEAM certified projects.

The devil’s in the detail
However, the existence of an EPD isn’t in itself sufficient to give confidence that a product is a low impact choice. Here’s why specifiers should get geeky with the information published by different suppliers: An EPD presents a snapshot of potential environmental impact within a single specified scenario and is valid for five years. While there is best practice guidance when it comes to EPDs, there is also plenty of complexity and variability in the data offered by manufacturers who may use different scenario assumptions and select which data to include.

Although in theory it should be easy to compare the impact of different products, in practice it’s much more challenging. So it’s good to know that transparent manufacturers like Karndean are able and willing to calculate project specific data, allowing specifiers to make accurate like for like comparisons.’

A product you can trust
The durability of Karndean flooring is key to its longevity and low environmental impact. Manufactured in factories certified to the ISO 14001 Environmental Management and ISO 9001 Quality Management International Standards, Karndean’s hardwearing surface shrugs off everyday scuffs and stains for a floor that will look great for many years, reducing the number of times that flooring needs to be replaced. In commercial environments this can result in a carbon footprint that is 85% lower than other flooring products.

Change in action
Groupe Atlantic’s mission is to help society rise to the challenge of reducing energy consumption whilst maintaining thermal comfort. So when it built a new training academy in East Yorkshire it was key that the building should itself have minimal impact.

Using sustainable materials and recycled products wherever possible to create a practical space with authentic natural aesthetics, the interior features a statement terrazzo design floor from Karndean’s Opus Abstracts collection. Bringing an impactful neoclassical look and a surface that can stand up to heavy footfall, the floor’s durability will reduce ongoing maintenance and thus overall environmental impact.

A roadmap to a greener future
One of the benefits of the EPD process is that it raises awareness of a product’s impact through its lifecycle stages and highlights ways in which manufacturers can reduce carbon emissions, providing impetus to innovate.

Karndean has turned this data into action, designing products with a lower impact, increasing recycling and reducing energy consumption. For example, it continues to increase the production of renewable energy at its UK headquarters following an investment in solar PV systems at its warehouse and distribution centre from November 2021. By summer 2023, Karndean will have added additional solar PV systems at its showroom, Karndean Training Academy and HQ, which is expected to generate 40% of its electricity from solar yield. Likewise, LED sensor-controlled lighting has been introduced in our 75,000 sq ft warehouse since 2021, producing a drop in energy usage of 35% between 2021 and 2022.

Not resting on its laurels, Karndean is currently developing a new contractual maturity model to push our supply chain to new sustainability heights, while its technical team is currently keeping tight lipped about exciting new products that it says will revolutionize the way we think about our built environment.

Today we face many challenges, from environmental risks to the economic fallout from the recent pandemic. We’re in a decisive decade when it comes to climate change but by designing a greener built environment we can construct a future where people and nature can thrive. We can take lessons from other industries and, like the choice between sourdough or white sliced bread, we can make small incremental changes that collectively have a huge positive impact. It’s certainly food for thought.
Jamie Shaw is global head of sustainability at Karndean Designflooring

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