Is Oak Flooring Environmentally Friendly?

30th Jun 2010 @ 13:26

Lately, we've been trying to get to grips with the true picture when it comes to our carbon footprint, environmental responsibility, green credentials... the list goes on.

There's so much conflicting data and opinion out there that it's hard sometimes to know whether you're doing "the right thing".

Here at Peak Oak we try our best to do what we think is right using common sense and basic facts.

Oak Flooring Uses Less Energy To Produce & Sequesters Carbon

The oak trees which provide our flooring have been sucking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere for decades and then sequestering it within their very structure. This carbon is only released as the wood breaks down (over millennia) or is burned.

A report by the National Wood Flooring Association in the USA compared the total primary energy required to manufacture selected floor coverings and came up with the following chart - hardwood flooring did pretty well.

So not only does the manufacture of oak flooring use less energy than other coverings, by laying an oak floor, you are essentially keeping the sequestered carbon dioxide stored away, preventing it from reentering the atmosphere - this is a good thing!

European Oak Has To Travel Shorter Distances

Oak flooring is manufactured all over the world and like any other product its price is dictated by the cost of production. If you are prepared to pay your workers a pittance and ignore their welfare needs, it's possible to produce oak flooring at very low cost, ship it half way around the world and still sell it for less than locally produced flooring.

Our oak flooring comes from Europe by road, travelling perhaps 1500 miles. If we imported cheap oak flooring from China, it would have to travel at least 12000 miles by sea and road at considerable extra cost to the environment.

We're Doing Our Best To Be Kind To The Environment

Here on the farm, we heat our buildings including the farmhouse with wood - this makes us carbon neutral in this respect.

We are now investigating the options for a wind turbine to make our electricity carbon neutral too.

Finally, we're starting a programme of oak tree planting here on the farm - a Peak District sheep farm isn't perhaps the best place get young oak trees established but we're going to persevere.

We've obviously still got a way to go until we could truly claim carbon neutrality, but with each passing month we're getting closer to achieving this goal.

If you have any ideas for how you think we could improve our environmental credentials please comment below.

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