Mats hold strong connection to sustainability

Mats hold strong connection to sustainability

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In 2009, the U.S. Green Building Council updated its LEED certification requirements, no longer offering a credit for facilities that installed an entryway mat system. Instead, high-performance entry matting became a requirement for a facility to be LEED-certified, reports the website Environmental Protection.

The reason for this change is simple: Mats help keep facilities clean. Less soil, dust, moisture and other contaminants are walked in when mats are in place. This means the facility will likely need less cleaning, and less cleaning reduces cleaning's impact on the environment. However, entry mats promote sustainability in a number of other ways, as well, according to the site.

Here are a few of the ways:

Reducing the use of cleaning solutions: Entryway mat systems help keep facilities cleaner, reducing their cleaning needs. This means fewer cleaning solutions, often made from water, petrochemicals and non-renewable resources, may be needed; fewer cleaning chemicals need to be packaged and transported (using fuel and releasing greenhouse gases) to distribution and customer sites; and with fewer containers delivered, less cleaning-related waste ends up in landfills.

Protecting floors: Hard-surface floors become soiled when contaminants and moisture are walked into a facility. Even with regular cleaning, this soil and moisture slowly starts degrading the floors. Eventually, the floors must be replaced. The most common type of hard-surface floor installed in a U.S. commercial facility is vinyl composite tile (VCT). These tiles are made using a number of chemicals and non-renewable petroleum-based additives, as well as non-renewable heavy metals. When removed, the tiles end up in landfills, where they can take decades to decompose. An effective entryway matting system helps prevent this soiling and lengthen the life span of hard-surface floor.

Protecting carpet: Just as entry mats protect hard-surface floors, they also protect carpet so that it stays cleaner and lasts longer. Carpet is usually made from synthetic fibers, such as nylon, which are produced from petroleum, a non-renewable resource. Petrochemicals also are used in the production of the carpet, requiring large amounts of energy and water. In fact, it takes more than 10 gallons of water to manufacture just one square yard of carpet. As to waste, more than 3 million tons of old carpet end up in landfills every year, where they also can take years to degrade. The longer a carpet stays effective, the fewer natural resources are necessary to manufacturer it and the less impact it has on the environment.

Reducing the use of cleaning equipment: If entry mats help keep hard-surface floors and carpets cleaner, longer, then it can be assumed that not only are fewer cleaning solutions needed, but there is also less need for heavier cleaning equipment, such as floor machines and carpet extractors. Some of these machines are similar to small compact cars. To manufacture and maintain them requires all types of metals, petroleum products, chemicals, water, plastics, and other materials, all of which can be minimized with proper and effective entry matting installed.

Preserving indoor electronic equipment: Dust, which typically is walked into a facility when no or improper mats are installed, can become airborne and cause significant damage to office electronics, such as computers and fax machines. The problem is that the dust starts blocking the exhaust fans on these machines. This can cause the machine to overheat, require more energy to operate, and reduce its life expectancy. If the dust contains moisture, it can also cause corrosion.

Reducing energy consumption: Just as dust buildup can block fans in electronics, if it is allowed to build up in HVAC units, it will infiltrate vents, cooling units, and electrical components. This reduces the efficiency of the equipment and causes it to use more electricity. As the buildup continues, it can also damage the equipment and reduce its lifespan.


Topics: Associations / Organizations, Building Owners and Managers, Cleaning, Consulting - Green & Sustainable Strategies and Solutions, Great Commercial Buildings, Healthy & Comfortable Buildings, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), Interiors, Sustainable Communities, Urban Planning and Design, USGBC, Ventilation

Companies: U.S. Green Building Council


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