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Top Flooring Options for Achieving LEED Certification on Construction Projects


With many new green flooring material trends on the rise, choosing the right material for application and LEED certification can be difficult. Following are the top flooring materials to help keep projects LEED-certified.


Bio-based tile (BBT) is a growing trend in flooring that holds many of the same advantages as resilient flooring—durability, strength, design versatility and affordability—with the added bonus of being extra eco-friendly.


Terrazzo is known for its durability and design versatility. And, from a green standpoint, terrazzo is easily installed without the use of harsh materials and can help maintain a healthy indoor environment.


Polished concrete has a wide variety of applications, from schools to industrial facilities. It is easily installed with a six-step process and easily maintained, as there is no need for the typical wax-and-strip method. It is safe, long-lasting and durable. Moreover, it is environmentally friendly and contributes to LEED certification.


There are many sustainable carpeting options stemming from recycled materials. While both broadloom and carpet tiles are sustainable options, carpet tiles cut down on waste during maintenance and installation—if there is a stain on one tile, you only have to replace that one square.


In practice, the factors affecting LEED certification level—and the overall impact on the environment—are complex. LEED v4 certification is much more stringent than the older guidelines. Much more than green washing, the updated certifications focus on a holistic approach to evaluating projects for performance, resource conservation and material selection.

Before a project will even be considered for LEED certification, contractors must meet the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Minimum Program Requirements (MPRs). The USGBC has put MPRs in place to define the type of project eligible for LEED certification.

A contractor’s project or portfolio must meet three basic requirements in order to be considered:

  • It must be a fixed location on existing land. Projects on artificial land or those designed for eventual relocation will not be considered because of the environmental implications.
  • The physical boundaries of the project in question must be defined to ensure a holistic evaluation.
  • The project must fall within the project size requirements for the certification you are seeking—whether it’s a house, neighborhood development or building design.

Most commercial projects fall under the umbrella of Building Design and Construction (BD + C) certification. Take a look at the BD + C scorecard to get a more detailed view of what goes into a LEED certification.

If a contractor meets the three MPRs, they are eligible to apply for LEED certification. LEED v4 certification revolves around four main benchmarks:

  • Performance-based, which focuses on indoor air quality to ensure occupants of the building will be comfortable;
  • Smart-grid, which serves to award points to buildings that respond to demand properly;
  • Water efficiency, which ensures that projects use water in a smart and sustainable manner; and
  • Materials, and the impact they will have on the environment.

To achieve certification, a project must exemplify each of these four components. If the project passes, it will be awarded one of four certification levels: certified, silver, gold or platinum.

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