Carbon Smart Attributes
Specify carpet tile rather than broadloom or sheet carpet to reduce installation and maintenance waste
Broadloom carpet typically generates 10-20% installation waste and cannot be easily repaired if damaged in one section, whereas carpet tile results in 1-5% installation waste and the useful life of the floor can be extended with selective tile-by-tile replacement for damaged sections. Specify carpet tile to minimize waste and waste-associated emissions such as landfill emissions and emissions associated with the production of new or replacement material.
Specify carpet with high recycled plastic content, especially in nylon face fiber
Making nylon carpet yarn from crude oil is typically responsible for over 50% of the carbon footprint of nylon carpet. Use available high-recycled content nylon yarns to decrease this footprint by over 80%. The most common form of recycled content in carpet is pre-consumer recycled mineral filler in carpet tile backing, which does not significantly decrease the carbon footprint of carpet. Look for recycled and bio-based content that displaces virgin petrochemicals and plastics.
Specify carpet with solution-dyed nylon yarn
Dyeing white yarn during the manufacturing process requires additional energy, water and chemicals. Specify carpet with solution-dyed nylon yarn, in which the plastic is colored with pigments before extrusion into yarn (“solution-dyeing”). This also makes the carpet resistant to fading and discoloration.
Balance embodied carbon with durability
While carpet products made from commodity plastic fibers (PET/polyester, polypropylene, etc.) have a lower initial carbon footprint than recycled nylon (an engineering plastic), these products are often not durable enough for most commercial environments and can wear down quickly, requiring replacement. Understand the lifespan of the product and specify the product with the lowest embodied carbon over the life of the building.
Avoid plush, high-pile carpet with virgin nylon fiber
The amount of carpet fiber in a product drives its carbon footprint, so products with more yarn will always have a higher footprint unless they are made with recycled or bio-based plastic. Avoid plush, high-pile carpet with virgin nylon fiber to reduce the embodied carbon impact of the carpet.