main criteria in evaluating current and potential builders: sustainability, product performance, and aesthetics.
The negotiating team conducted research on the carpet industry to identify which companies were leaders in sustainability. To gain understanding of the environmental impact of carpet fiber, the team also met with fiber manufacturers. Kaiser Permanente partnered with the Healthy Building Network to develop a detailed questionnaire for determining the chemical composition of carpets and the environmental impact of carpet manufacturing. The questionnaire was used to assess effects on the environmental quality of buildings and their surrounding communities. Because conventional testing was not adequate for Kaiser Permanente’s needs, the company developed a special testing procedure to measure impermeability.
After deliberations, the team selected five carpet companies; two that were currently under contract and three that were included on the basis of their leadership in sustainable practice. The negotiating team then prepared a request for proposal and sent it to all five companies. The team invited each manufacturer to make a presentation with a focus on their sustainable practices, healthcare product line, and product performance. The team then met and scored each company on the basis of the selection criteria.
Sustainable practices and product evaluation or performance were assigned a weight of 45 percent each, and green innovation was assigned a 10 percent weight. An ideal product did not exist at that time, noted Slotterback. A major issue for Kaiser Permanente was the elimination of PVC, and all products meeting the performance criteria had PVC backing in the carpet. The two companies selected, Interface and C&A Floorcoverings, had aggressive recycling programs and agreed to work with Kaiser Permanente to develop a PVC-free carpet backing that met performance criteria in a 2-year time frame.
C&A Floorcoverings managed to meet the criteria, and they have been awarded Kaiser Permanente’s NPA for carpet in all of Kaiser Permanente’s facilities. C&A Floorcoverings developed a carpet backing that performs at the level of PVC but uses material that is reclaimed from laminated safety glass and contains 96 percent postconsumer recycled content.
Kaiser Permanente explored the environmental performance of other flooring products as well. The company looked for a replacement of dominant surfaces, such as vinyl sheet flooring and vinyl tile flooring, within the hospital. Kaiser Permanente revised its standard to use two alternative flooring systems: Stratica by Amtico and Nora rubber flooring, noted Slotterback.
Chemical content of the materials is not the only important component of Kaiser Permanente’s flooring standards, said Slotterback. The maintenance process is very important as well. The maintenance cycle of PVC-based products usually requires stripping and waxing. The stripping releases particulates that may trigger asthma; in addition, the cleaning chemicals used to treat PVC-based products are believed to be harmful. The Nora and the Stratica flooring requires