Head of the Class

Why rubber resilient flooring is a smart (and sustainable) choice in educational environments.

10/01/2015 By Robert Nieminen

With election season upon us, politicians of every stripe will yet again make promises to reform our educational system. However, as the Center for Green Schools (CGS)1 has observed, “We’ve spent so much time spinning our wheels over how to fix the who and the what of education, we’ve ignored what needs to be done to fix the where.” The CGS concludes that as public understanding of the impact of facilities on safety, health, education, and communities has grown, forward-looking, sustainable, and affordable solutions are being implemented in our schools across the country.

Evidence of this sea change in the design and construction of our educational facilities is illustrated by a number of statistics:

◗ Construction industry experts predict that by 2025, all new school construction will be green2.
◗ The highest penetration of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design® (LEED) green building projects is in the education sector3.
◗ The typical green school saves $100,000 per year on operating costs, enough to hire at least one new teacher, buy 200 new computers, or purchase 5,000 textbooks4.
◗ On average, new green schools use 33 percent less energy and 32 percent less water than conventionally constructed schools, significantly reducing utility costs5.

As efforts to improve and green our schools continue to make headway, designers and specifiers need reliable information about products that can help transform them into healthy, sustainable, and safe environments for our children. Considering its visibility, its near-constant usage, and proportionately large percentage of project budgets, it makes sense to start at the floor—and given the numerous benefits and sustainable characteristics of rubber flooring, there’s virtually no smarter choice for schools.

the head of the class
While sustainability and maintenance are critical factors to consider, there are other benefits that rubber flooring can provide that are equally important when it comes to designing effective learning environments. Acoustics, comfort, durability, and safety are all requirements that administrators and facility managers are looking for, and specifying rubber flooring can help meet them. Here’s how:

Sound absorbent. Rubber flooring is impact-resistant, which also gives it noise-abating properties. According to Laboratory Equipment, educators are regularly challenged by a variety of sound-related factors as they are engaged in lessons or lectures to students, including: reverberation; echoes; noise associated with weather, traffic construction, and road maintenance outside the building; the distractions of foot traffic; doors opening and closing; and classroom noises associated with heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems, computers and students’ voices. In fact, up to 70 percent of unwanted noise and as much as 17 decibels of sound can be reduced simply by specifying rubber flooring, which helps to reduce distractions in learning environments—a clear benefit to both teachers and students6.

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