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‘Sustainability and innovation is driving change in LVT’ says Shaw Contract

In the top end commercial office segment LVT is in the spotlight. Over the past few years notable architect and design companies have excluded PVC based LVT products from specification based on sustainability credentials, says SHAW CONTRACT. Only specifying LVT when required, this change has been notable at a time when LVT use has increased in the general market. Carpet tile has always driven sustainability standards in flooring with key manufacturers continuing to raise the standards. With LVT’s popularity continuing it too must comply to key sustainability criteria.

Contractors installing flooring are aware of the advantages of LVT: durability, availability, cost effective, easy to install, great performance factors. The UK market is a well-established LVT market with key players offering various glue down and loose lay LVT products.

With 75% of LVT flooring design being ‘timber effect,’ LVT platforms are accessible for use across all project segments. Shaw Contract introduced a refresh to their ‘go to’ LVT platform at the end of 2023 with the introduction of Nordic: a 5mm and 2.5 mm LVT collection including 10 ‘scandi’ tones of timber. The product like similar LVTs looks realistic and is said to be well priced and in stock for immediate purchase. The introduction of Exoguard+ finish for enhanced durability and scratch resistance is the one extra update for the collection, says the company. However, the new collection also has Air Comfort Gold certification, to ensure air quality and a Health Product Declaration to confirm the product doesn’t contain harmful chemicals. It was an important sustainability consideration during the product development process, says Shaw Contract.

It adds: ‘The trend for the aesthetics of LVT is evolving. There are various shapes and sizes of planks available, but it’s the design, finish and texture that seem to have improved the most. Many products not only look realistic but feel realistic too with embossing and other manufacturing techniques readily available from most manufacturers. The raw materials of granite, stone, slate and concrete are popular especially as a specified area of a project, allowing projects to have a showcase area whether it be a lobby or key area. The large format tile up to 100mmx100mm showcases a monolithic floor design well. Larger tiles, less tiles, means fewer edges, and this showcases a plain or simple minimal design, defining different areas of a floor space. Of course, arguably large format tiles should mean less waste on site and less packaging used in delivery, encapsulating more sustainability factors.’

It’s no longer just carpet tile and LVT for high traffic areas, it’s a mix of LVT depending on flexible space requirements; so 5mm and 2.5mm options. Shaw will be launching a new LVT collection in early 2024 called Function & Flow which complements our Nordic collection and gives specifiers and contractors more design options from stock, says the company. Carpet tile is having to remind the specifiers and procurement teams of its role in the project. Which is not just acoustics, design and maintenance friendly, it’s sustainability.

Sustainability considerations have significantly increased post Covid and the requirement to provide performance and sustainability data for LVT products is now a day-to-day demand. Environmental Product Declarations and Health Product Declarations are being requested not just by specifiers and fit out companies but also consultants and end-users. Most stakeholders have a net zero target and ESG (Environmental Social Governance) parameters to work to. Information on products needs to be available online, a QR code or on a smartphone, says Shaw Contract.

Building and Healthy workplace certifications are rightly demanding that product data for material health is transparent and published. WELL, BREEAM, LEED, SKA all refers to responsible chemical use, VOC guidance for indoor air quality etc.

For years the circular economy approach has been talked about to ensure we recycle, reuse, design for disassembly, reduce waste and dumping in landfill. In turn product manufacturers have been tasked to design and manufacture their products to have as little environmental impact as possible, be carbon neutral and offer to takeback the product after use.

However, the chemical content of a product is not the only impact on a sustainability demand. How the product is installed has a significant bearing on the practical ability to evolve to a circular economy approach.

Traditional installation methods such as full adhesive use for floor coverings isn’t conducive for successful takeback for reuse and recycling. Adhesive free solutions have been readily available in market for some time in partnership with IOBAC, Shaw Contract is said to offer Adhesive Free solutions for installing LVT, an approach that facilitates easy lifting of the LVT without damaging the sub-floor. Shaw Contract have also reportedly introduced the industry’s first second location warranty, which extends the original product warranty. The company adds: ‘This method not only allows for the reuse of the LVT but also protects the subfloor, eliminating the need for cleaning and remedial costs. It represents a simple, cost-efficient method for installing LVT on most common sub-floors and enhances sustainability accreditations LEED, BREEAM and WELL that reward material reuse.’

‘Sustainability demands will continue and LVT will have to meet the requirements set. When it comes to sustainability it’s not just the product credentials that are important. Installation, end of life and asset management are key to deliver circularity in the medium to long term. Will this mean that those architects and designers currently not specifying LVT will start?
Possibly, but the only solution in the long term is for PVC FREE Resilient LVT to be available at realistic cost to be used regularly in the market. This means they’ll be able to be closed loop recycled or reused just like carpet tiles. While there are some products like these already in the market, they tend to be more expensive. We’re sure in the future more of these products will be available and cost comparable to ensure the march of LVT will continue sustainably,’ adds the company.
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