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creating better environments
LEED®, the leading rating system globally for the design and construction of more sustainable buildings, has spawned an era whereby manufacturer’s product design & development, and even more unfortunate, marketing, has been driven (sometimes erroneously) by the need to “generate contributions towards LEED points.” The onslaught of products offering sustainable attributes that were relatively unaudited, with non-transparent supply chains and non-verifiable chains of custody, containing ignorance-based claims has created a confusing landscape that in many cases has reduced the marketplace to an over-priced validation of the status quo.
 
 
The market perception that “sustainable” equals “more expensive” is erroneous.

For a manufacturer, sustainability is as important to integrate into the entire product design and production process as quality control. When quality control was an afterthought consisting of an inspection at end of line, it was additional cost. When quality control was integrated throughout the design/development, and manufacturing process, it became a cost savings. The same is true of sustainability. When sustainability is an “add-on” attribute such as adding a bio-based component to a chemical based product, or creating a “backdoor 3rd party” process for calling production scrap in backings “recycled content”, you only compromise the cost and integrity of the intended outcome. This is the reality of the use of “products with sustainable attributes.”
 
 
Forbo believes in the design and manufacture of “sustainable products”.

There is no more vivid living example of this than Marmoleum. The sustainability of Marmoleum from “field to field” (Flax field to composting) is the most transparent and sustainable of any flooring material. As such, Marmoleum carries more 3rd party, independent, LCA (multi-attribute) based environmental certifications than any other flooring material. Marmoleum has, through clear 3rd party, publicly disclosed, verifiable documentation, the lowest environmental footprint of any manufactured flooring material. Sustainability has been integrated into every step of the process, from supply chain, through manufacturing, to installation and use, and finally end of life.

But what about cost?

It is no coincidence that through our MCT & MCS products, Marmoleum with Topshield2 also carries the lowest first cost of any occupancy ready flooring material. The beauty of Marmoleum is that sustainability is an assumed attribute and it can compete very successfully in an aspirational world where sustainability is an assumed characteristic, not a marketing trend. This is the benefit of being a “sustainable product”.  
 
Further, Forbo strives to be a “sustainable manufacturer”. We do not want to be a manufacturer that has one product platform (i.e. Marmoleum) that is sustainable, but rather one that recognizes that our entire product portfolio has to have the best environmental profile possible.

As a case in point, in October 2008 Forbo acquired Bonar Floors and with that acquisition came the integration of Flotex into our product portfolio. Flotex is the most durable, maintainable alternative to textile flooring and at the time of acquisition carried almost every meaningful environmental certification for textile flooring available. In truth, it’s environmental profile was not something we could be immediately be proud. We quickly focused resources on it and in less than a years time made an average of more than 10% improvement in the overall products environmental footprint. In the end, it carries no additional certifications or is recognized any different, but we know that we have made progress and have identified opportunities to make a lot more progress in the future. We will not make claims here of how it will improve in the future, we will only detail what we have already accomplished. 
 
Flotex Tile Improvements

Abiotic Depletion Potential. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -1.46%
Acidification Potential . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -2.59%
Eutrophication Potential. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -0.33%
Ozone Layer Depletion Potential . . . . . . . . . -6.61%
Photochemical Ozone Creation Potential. . -0.96%
Net Global Warming Potential. . . . . . . . . . . . -1.54%
Total LCA-based Impacts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -13.50%

Flotex Sheet also saw similar improvements.

It is this element of transparency that is critical in the step to being a “sustainable manufacturer”.