Sustainable Rubber Flooring for Healthcare and Education
Learning Objectives - After this course, you should be able to:
- Discuss demographic trends affecting healthcare and educational facilities, and challenges involved in selecting flooring that meets their specific requirements but is also highly sustainable.
- Explain how recycled rubber flooring meets key performance criteria such as sustainability, ergonomics, acoustics, indoor air quality, and the use of color and aesthetics to promote healing and learning.
- Compare the life-cycle cost and environmental impact of recycled rubber flooring to other flooring materials, including cost, installation, maintenance, and life span.
- Recognize the factors distinguishing the most sustainable recycled rubber products, including innovative renewable sources, manufacturing with low energy, green maintenance, durability, and end-of-life reclamation.
The dramatic rise in births immediately after World War II led to a boom in more than babies. Demand exploded for every type of consumer product from toothpaste and cereal to televisions and cars, houses in the suburbs, schools and hospitals to serve them, and roads to drive there. Now as the first boomers move into their 60s, once again the sheer number of that generation is driving a wave of growth and innovation. At the other end of the age curve, concepts in educational facilities are also morphing, as current infrastructure deteriorates and the requirement for high performance increases. In both healthcare and education, demographic trends are shaping new models far beyond traditional schools and hospitals, many of which were first built to accommodate the boomers during the 1950s and 60s.
The new spaces will have to meet the specific needs of a changing population while making the least possible demand on limited financial and natural resources. They will serve people young and old, often those in most need of protection and support. Innovation in design, materials, and products will be the only way forward. This course will focus on selecting floors that are sustainable throughout their life cycle, as they provide a basis for the healthy, positive, mission-enhancing spaces we need now.
In 1945, U.S. births averaged around 2.8 million a year, as they had during the 1930s. In 1946 that number grew to 3.47 million, and this dramatic increase continued through 1964. Today's population explosion in this country is of senior citizens. About half of the total population growth in the U.S. over the next 20 years is expected to be people over age 65. The baby boomers are aging—but it's a different kind of “age” than ever before. For one thing, it's much longer. A hundred years ago, people who reached age 65 could expect to live about 12 more years. Today, according to the Centers for Disease Control, this figure is closer to 19 years. So the approximately 71 million people turning 65 in the coming years can expect to live another couple of decades.
The need for healthcare is growing, but at the same time, people over 60 are often healthier, living longer, and demanding changes in the way older people function in society. This affects the old concepts of “hospital” and “nursing home” and even “healthcare establishment,” as more people choose to “age in place” and want to build healthcare into their home. The demand is growing for active retirement communities, assisted living facilities at every level of support from lawn services to 24-hour medical care, long-term care facilities for higher acuity patients, and outpatient and other special-care facilities for services like joint replacement and elective surgery.
Healthy Outlook Family Medicine in Phoenix installed a 5,000-square-foot recycled rubber floor reflecting its commitment to an old-fashioned personalized approach combined with cutting-edge technology.
Photo courtesy of Ed Taube