Sustainable Flooring Initiative encourages building owners and architects to use earth-friendly materials when specifying floors.


Polished concrete floor decorates newly built performing arts school. Polished concrete color dyes gave the school’s designer the ability to add graphics into the finished concrete floor.

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Polished concrete is a practical material that develops a nice patina over time while its integral, through body soft color conceals gouges and scrapes that occur in such high-traffic environments.

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Polished concrete floor adds more shine to industrial facilities. The polishing process is operationally friendly because the installation can be done during normal manufacturing operations.

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Eneref Flooring Initiative

Here’s how people responded to sustainable flooring solutions.

The first impression is that floor shines. I mean, that is really truly one of the first impressions when you walked through the door.

Vinny Tagliaferro - Manager, Melitta Cherry Hill View Eneref Report

We are complimented almost daily on the beauty of the floors.

Brenda Parker - Principal, Alberta School View Eneref Report

As an aesthetic for American Eagle Outfitters, we really like polished concrete flooring.

Michael Smith - Director of Store Design, American Eagle Outfitters View Eneref Report

It’s essentially a product that will last indefinitely, it just takes wear and tear perfectly.

Jordan Morris - Architect and Project Manager with Ward Scott Architecture View Eneref Report


EPA (Environmental Protection agency) studies have shown that indoor pollutant levels can be two to five times higher than they are outside. Some flooring materials are inherently toxic. Installation of new vinyl flooring (polyvinyl chloride) and carpet flooring emits hundreds of volatile organic compounds (VOC), including carcinogens like formaldehyde and benzene. It can take years for these substances to dissipate. In addition, carpets are often treated with toxic chemicals for mothproofing or to repel soil and moisture. Glues used to install carpet, produce potentially toxic emissions. Carpeting is also notorious for trapping toxic lawn chemicals, VOCs, and allergens tracked in from outside.

  1. Are carpet floors biodegradable?

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that carpet represents 2% of the material volume in U. S. landfills. Intervention is paramount as most carpeting is not biodegradable.

    Every year, 1.8 million tons of carpeting reaches local landfills. Most of those carpets and rugs will last up to 20, 000 years. Purchasing recycled flooring can reduce the amount of waste found in our landfills

  2. How much water is being waste by carpet flooring?

    Water is a fundamental and non-renewable resource. Given how critical water is to our daily lives and operations, many would be shocked by the amount of water cleaning industries consume every day. Conventional carpet extractors use as much as 1.5 gallons of water per minute; therefore, cleaning for one hour requires up to 90 gallons of water. A significant amount of water is used during restorative floor care in particular, which typically involves stripping and refinishing flooring.  Not only does carpeting and flooring maintenance consume huge amounts of water, but it also produces waste that can be considered hazardous.

  3. Can polished concrete floors provide thermal mass insulation?

    Thermal mass is a property that enables building materials to absorb, store, and later release significant amounts of heat. Buildings constructed of concrete and masonry have a unique energy-saving advantage because of their inherent thermal mass. These materials absorb energy slowly and hold it for much longer periods of time than do materials with less thermal mass, regulating indoor temperature fluctuations.

  4. Can polished concrete floor reduce emissions and energy use?

    According to Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler, small steps towards designing more sustainable buildings can make a big dent in the City’s carbon footprint – reducing emissions as well as energy bills. Through expanded benchmarking Mayor de Blasio’s vision of reducing 80 percent of our carbon emissions by 2050 might be realized.

Polished Concrete Floor at American Eagle Outfitters

“As an aesthetic for American Eagle Outfitters we really like polished concrete flooring.” — Michael Smith, Director of Store Design.

FAQ: What is the most sustainable flooring system available?

Eneref Institute examines how a polished concrete floor builds sales for commercial facilities. To learn the market obstacles to sustainable flooring, download Eneref Institute’s report.