The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Rating System incorporates a comprehensive way of determining if new construction and major renovations will result in a “green building.” An integral part of this deals with indoor air quality (IAQ) issues, and this is one area where an installation contractor can really help.

LEED points are given for such things as the Construction IAQ Management Plan including sequencing the installation of materials to avoid contamination of absorptive materials such as insulation, carpeting, ceiling tile, and gypsum wallboard. Specification of adhesives or sealants, paints and coatings that are low-VOC materials, carpet and carpet systems that meet or exceed the requirements of the Carpet & Rug Institute’s Green Label Indoor Air Quality Test Program all earn points.

So, how does this apply to me? If you have a choice, precut the carpet into appropriate cut size for the areas and allow to air out before delivery instead of delivering to job in mill-wrapped packaging. This will reduce the new carpet smell and avoid contributing to all of the other odors from off-gassing materials. If you are doing demolition, you will help yourself and everyone else if you vacuum old carpet prior to take up. Use a floor patch that is compatible with the flooring being installed. Sometimes the adhesive will already be supplied; in other cases that’s your responsibility. Make sure you are using a low-or no-VOC adhesive if it is a direct glue down job. Be prepared to supply complete adhesive/sealant info to the owner or architect. Don’t forget to take a look at the cove base adhesive you’re going to use. If installing certain types of reducers, use the newer low-VOC contact cements. Even better, use the specialized roll type contact film adhesive such as Sigaway or Nora Rubber’s StepFix for stair treads. Sigaway and others also make a woven dry adhesive scrim that may be used in some carpet and resilient installation applications.

Always ask before starting the job if it is a LEED rated project. If it is, and you are knowledgeable, you won’t have an architect screaming about the contact cement you are using to install carpet reducers and stair treads. What’s more, your efforts will help the owner/architect/engineer earn their required LEED points. You can make a difference.