The Carpet Industry Nudges Toward Green

May/June 2003
A version of this article appears in the May/June 2003 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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May 01, 2003
        Carpets play a critical role in making homes more comfortable by warming up cold floors and reducing sound transfer between floors. Without carpets, unheated concrete slabs and strutting around barefoot in the winter would be intolerable.         Together, a carpet plus padding—an underlay or cushion—provides a small amount of insulating value to floors. This additional insulation equivalent is measured in “togs,” which is an assessment of heat flow resistance through cloth; an R-value of 3 is comparable to 1.7 togs. The Carpet and Rug Institute makes it a bit simpler by estimating a carpet’s R-value as the total carpet and underlay thickness measured in inches multiplied by 2.6. A combination of nylon carpet and a polyurethane cushion with a total thickness of 1.5 inches, for example, will yield an overall R-value of 3.9. This is roughly comparable to a 3/4-inch rigid foam panel.         Still, carpets are not an entirely benign component of the home-building industry. The biggest issue is the disposal of used and worn-out carpet. In 2002, 2.25 million tons of old carpets were sent to the nation’s landfills; ...

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