Hardwood flooring is obviously made from a limited natural resource. Trees are a renewable resource but some of them take a very long time to renew. Most hardwood trees grow slower than softwoods such as pine. Softwood pine can grow to maturity in about ten years. An oak tree however, only grows about one foot per year. Even rarer hardwoods take longer to grow. That’s why so many people are hesitant about hardwood options. There are green, sustainable ways to choose a hardwood floor.
One of the options is a sustainably sourced hardwood floor. Sustainable sourcing means that the trees are harvested in ways that is replaceable. For example, a sustainable program might involve a company planting a tree for every tree that is harvested for its wood. Those newly planted trees will take a decade or more to grow to maturity but the land won’t become barren after trees are harvested. Furthermore, the company can choose to buy offsets. An offset is basically a credit from one company to another. The company will buy a certain amount of credits that will go towards planting trees elsewhere.
Reclaimed wood is another green option. Reclaimed wood is wood that has been machined and installed for a different purpose that is then moved to your home or office. Typically, reclaimed wood refers to older wood that has been aged somewhat. You can buy a reclaimed wood floor that was just a floor elsewhere. Alternately, you can buy a floor made from planks of wood that were used for some other purpose.
The wood you choose doesn’t have to be antique barn wood or some other trendy source; it could simply be a floor that was removed in a renovation. Apartment complexes are great sources for reclaimed hardwood. Older apartments often have wooden floors that require more maintenance than the apartment managers would like. Therefore, they remove the old floors and put them up for quick sale.
Since the wood used in hardwood floors is often replaced by planting saplings, the speed at which the tree grows will determine how quickly the tree is replaced. Trees sequester carbon in their branches and leaves; therefore, when you cut them down, you release that carbon. A tree needs to grow to the size of the previous tree to sequester the equivalent amount of carbon that was released. Buying hardwood floors in a fast-growing species such as red oak can reduce the carbon footprint.