Starting your green initiative from the ground floor up

The flooring in your store is one of the first things a customer sees and it absolutely makes an impression on them, consciously or subconsciously, while they make an impression on it. Yet retailers do not often think of their flooring as a starting point for their green initiatives. Perhaps it is time you did.

What makes flooring a better starting point than other areas of your operation? The availability of greener products is one reason. There are many greener flooring products on the market produced largely from recycled products. For example, most of the products our organization sells are made from 70 percent recycled materials that are 100 percent recyclable. 

While most store owners and franchise owners like the idea of greener flooring, it is the other kind of green, money, that prevents flooring from topping the list for green initiatives. New technologies, like interlocking tiles, have made greener flooring products financially viable alternatives.

Interlocking tile technologies completely bypass the need for adhesives—not always the most environmentally-friendly products either--and floor prep to install or replace flooring. This dramatically reduces installation times because old flooring can be left in place and machinery and furniture do not have to be completely moved or removed for installation.

In essence, new flooring can be installed without closing your store and with minimal, if any, disruption to traffic flow.

Another financial benefit to this technology is that floor replacement does not have to be an all-or-nothing investment. It can start with installing tiles in the entry way or some other part of your operation and continue throughout the store as your budget dictates.

Due to traffic flows, flooring wears out in some places faster than others. Some retail outlets might live with the spots that need replacement for months, even years because of the expense of replacing more traditional flooring. With interlocking tile technologies, the damaged tiles get replaced, while those that still look good stay. The result is that you can maintain a higher standard of appearance for your floors.

Another benefit to the greener flooring products is that many of them feature anti-static qualities. For retail outlets that utilize a certain amount of electronics in day-to-day operations, the anti-static qualities of greener flooring can prevent and minimize impact to your computers, cash registers, scanners and other electronic equipment. This greatly decreases the possibility a power surge could result in lost or damaged data stored on those machines.

Beyond ease of installation, greener, recyclable materials and improved upkeep and appearance, starting a green initiative makes more than a symbolic gesture to customers that you are sincere with your efforts. Utilizing air dryers in the bathrooms, timers on your climate control settings and more efficient lighting certainly make an impact. Yet you can literally show customers you care about reducing your carbon footprint with every step footprint. And that initiative can be utilized as part of your brand and in-store marketing efforts.

Eastern Mountain is one retail outlet that made its flooring part of its green initiative. Eastern Mountain Sports wanted an attractive and comfortable floor for its shoe department to provide customers with the proper setting for selecting new shoes. Said a company representative, “Our mission is to encourage consumers to appreciate the outdoors and the responsibility that comes with this privilege. We wanted a ‘green’ flooring material that would be comfortable to walk on, install and maintain easily, and be reliable.”

While many of the new greener flooring products on the market today meet those criteria and more, you do want to do your research before making your selection. Insist on a minimum of 10-year warranty. Inquire about post-installation services and follow-up. Remember, what makes going with a greener floor a good investment goes beyond that it’s better for the environment. It also has to be good for your business.