The “Green” life of Polished Concrete
Nowadays more and more architects, interior designers, building contractors and of the general public get involved with environmentally friendly projects, which are supported by: the Canadian government, Ontario rebate programs, non-for profit organizations and media coverage. Polished concrete floors are one of such projects.
The latest diamond technology that gets the concrete surface naturally polished is appealing to people looking for an aesthetically pleasing, minimum maintenance and ecologically sound flooring solution.
Polished concrete systems are designed to grind, cure and polish concrete floors to eliminate the need for environment-damaging chemicals and constant resurfacing with paint or resin. It creates floors with a high gloss, contemporary looking finish.
How ecologically friendly is the POLISHED concrete? Is it really so “Green”?
“Green” approval is interlaced with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, (LEED) certification. LEED addresses the major concerns of green building including: the use of resource-friendly materials, energy saving design, and providing healthy indoor environmental quality (IEQ).
Lets evaluate how polished concrete responds to LEED requirements.
Nature of Concrete
Concrete consists of crushed stone, sand, cement and water. All ingredients are perfectly natural, therefore have a very low carbon footprint. No plastic, no glue, no by-product. 5* ECO rating!
Concrete is always produced within the short distance to the job site therefore utilizes regional materials, resources and local labor supply. There is no need to ship concrete over long distances, which can result in wasted energy. Transportation costs and carbon emissions are reasonably low. Locally produced – locally consumed. No China made – Go Canadian!
Installation of Polished Concrete
Specifically designed refinishing machines use thermo-resistant diamond bits to progressively smooth the concrete floor. As a result, the surface gets polished, highly reflecting sheen by pressurized heated mechanical abrasion, which obviously does not produce harmful Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), chemical fumes or like. A concrete floor will not require the use of adhesives or sealers, in contrast with carpet, wood, stone, tile, and especially VCT. The densifier-hardener does not produce any fumes. The lithium silicate creates a hardening reaction with the calcium hydroxide occurring naturally in concrete. Therefore, the installation of polished concrete is indeed, a pollution-free “Green” process.
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Finished concrete dramatically saves energy. During summer, the concrete slab draws the ground’s natural cooling abilities into the building. In the winter, if a building has been designed to expose the slab to natural sunlight, it will soak up this radiant heat. Then at night, the slab will slowly release the heat into the building to provide thermal comfort and a warmer interior. Some smart folks install radiant heated polished concrete and really enjoy the “King” life.
As a result, the energy bill for heating and cooling goes down considerably. Good for you, good for our Earth!
Indoor Air Quality
Our everyday life is mostly indoors; therefore, good air quality is a crucial factor for the health. Mold, dust, allergens from animals, fungal contaminants and unpleasant smell affect our life daily. Vinyl tiles absorb fumes and tobacco odor, dust mites like to reside in carpets and mold blooms in the grouts.
On the contrary, a polished and sealed concrete surface can greatly reduce the penetration of moisture and hence, the growth of bacteria. Polished concrete is the best covering option where an allergy free, VOC free and fumes free environment is required. Remember, 40% of North Americans have various allergies, and this number is growing!
Lifespan of Concrete Floor
Polished concrete is a long-lasting solution due to its unique durability. This long-lasting floor will not need to be refinished, disposed or replaced. It is a lifetime solution; therefore it eliminates waste, without using a vast amount of resources that it takes to install new flooring, like VCT, laminate or epoxy.
A concrete floor destined to outlast its owner. And is it “Green” feature? Probably.
How “Eco-Friendly” is the Maintenance?
Unlike painted or resinous floors, polished concrete also requires no further treatment or coating. No waxing / stripping cycles, no steam cleaning and no solvent sealers, like other coverings, needed. In the long term, this will GREATLY save costs since no labor, resurfacing or expensive cleaning materials are required, nor is there a loss of productivity while the floor is repainted or re-coated. Cleaning the polished surface requires only stone soap and water; kind to both the environment and the floor.
Therefore, from a maintenance prospective, the polished concrete has one of the highest ratings in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, (LEED) program. In result, your hired maintenance company, building superintendent or even your homeland “Boss-Lady” will love to clean the polished concrete floor!