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May 5, 2008

Letters to the Editor: Look below the surface when it comes to ‘green'

As a contractor, I completely agree with Anne Whitacre from Los Angeles. (April 28 DJC: “Just because it's ‘green' doesn't mean it's good.”

The same can be said for all this nonsense about “sustainable” this and “sustainable” that. These are merely buzzwords for the same “green” scams that permeate our culture today. People need to use intellect and reason to evaluate the results or benefits of these ideas in relation to short term and long term costs. Further, “sustainable” does not always mean better and certainly does not mean more efficient. These concepts are meant to make us “feel good” and provide comfort for some imagined guilt for having a successful culture.

John P. Zapel

Westek Forest

I concur with Anne Whitacre regarding her spot-on article regarding green materials in LEED projects.

Our company has been selling and installing commercial floor covering materials since 1990. During our first year in business we realized that to create highly satisfied customers we also had to be in the maintenance business. This approach of extending floor life through proper product selection, installing it the right way and then maintaining the material after installation has given us great insight into the shortcomings of focusing on recycled content only.

There are many carpets and hard surface materials out there that have a high recycled content or have a great story centered on a sustainable model. However, many of these green attributes may not be the best sustainable solution.

One of the questions I often ask is: What's greener? A product that has a high recycled content but will only last for five to seven years or a product with little or no recycled content that performs twice as long or longer? We see this more often than most because we maintain much of what we install.

LEED certainly focuses on reducing resources during the initial construction phase, however it does not consider lifecycle. We have been extending floor life for the past 18 years by making sure the client has specified the proper product for the space, installed it correctly and maintained it.

LEED is a start. It's too bad that it's so onerous. Then trying to take it into the ambiguous realm of determining lifecycle maybe too much for any organization.

This has been my experience in our small world of floor coverings. People in other industries may have a completely different view.

Troy Bucy

Pacific Modular

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