Passive House Carpeting and Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

Passive House Carpeting: Improving Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) with SmartStrand

For the most part, Lisa and I selected flooring of unfinished hardwood, marble, and porcelain.  However for three rooms we decided to use carpeting.  The rooms selected were to be the rooms used the least, they were: the second master bedroom located on the first floor (we have a master on the second floor with wood flooring) and the third and fourth bedrooms located on the second floor.

Having lived in a homes that have had wall to wall carpeting with pets, we wanted to minimize its use.  While carpeting can sure feel very nice below tired feet, it can also attract and retain many nasty things the lurk about in your home.  Hard surfaced floors tend to provide more healthy interior living spaces, since dust, dander, grime, etc. can not get a foothold--unlike carpeting--and can certainly contribute to improving indoor air quality (IAQ).

Lisa and I visited a number of carpeting suppliers and certainly did quite a bit of research online.

Ultimately we selected Mohawk Flooring's SmartStrand carpeting.  It is marketed as an environmentally friendly extremely durable and stain resistant carpeting whose stain resistance does not come from a wearable material on the carpeting strands.

SmartStrand is composed of nearly 40% of renewable material (corn-based, not petroleum-based) and is claimed to require less energy and produces less than 60% of greenhouse gases during its production relative to the production of typical nylon-based carpeting.

SmartStrand also complies with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Credit MR 6.0 for rapidly renewable materials, and can be recycled back into carpet and other end-use products and

For the carpet pad, we had considered flat rubber padding, but it was very difficult to source so we instead went with a special-order high-density pad that had a "water-proof" membrane that prevents liquids from penetrating and reaching the plywood sub-floor.

So far, we are quite pleased with the carpeting.  Within 24 hours of install, there was almost no remaining (new-carpet) smell (which would be the result of offgasing) that can be so typical of other materials produced from petroleum-distillates and contain VOCs.

We have been sensitive to indoor air quality (IAQ) and strove for minimizing potential of offgasing, therefore every building component we could select (such as insulation) had little or no VOCs, did not offgas, nor would give off noxious/toxic fumes during a potential fire.  This is especially important for extremely airtight building, such as a Passivhaus, even though it is mechanically ventilated.

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