Several vinyl flooring and carpet tile products from Tarkett Australia were installed at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in South Australia to meet the leading healthcare facility’s sustainability goals.

Australia’s first large-scale hospital to achieve a 4 Star Green Star rating (Healthcare Design v1) and also the country’s largest Green Star project, the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) uses Tarkett vinyl sheet flooring (iQ Granit SD and Safety) and Desso Airmaster carpet tiles to cover the building’s expansive footprint. Spread over an area of 175,000 square metres on a 10-hectare site, the 10-storey building’s footprint structurally spans the equivalent of three city blocks.

Tarkett vinyl flooring was specified for its suitability for healthcare environments in terms of durability, hygiene and aesthetics as well as its sustainability credentials. In addition to its GreenTag Level A certification, which aligned with the hospital’s ambitious Green Star target, iQ vinyl flooring delivers the lowest lifecycle costs on the market, providing substantial savings on cleaning and maintenance costs over the floor’s lifetime.

Observing that the company had a long history of developing products that enhance people’s wellbeing and minimise impact on the environment, Tarkett national marketing manager Stacey-lee Smith said, “We are committed to developing sustainable flooring solutions that respect the environment. We have adopted the cradle-to-cradle approach from product design to end-of-use in order to ensure that our flooring becomes part of something new again.

“We apply this eco-design across materials, manufacture, distribution, installation, use, maintenance and recyclability. All our products have simple, clear information about the contents of our flooring and its sustainability.

“A driving force for us is to develop processes and products that meet the highest standards for sustainability, from production through to disposal or recycling. We try to reduce water, chemical and energy consumption in our factories and ensure that waste and pollution are minimised. ISO 9001, ISO and 14001 and OHSAS 18001 certifications recognise the efforts we make to ensure that our production processes respect people and the environment. Our vinyl flooring has undetectable VOC emissions, is phthalate free and 100 percent recyclable.”

Greg Wenham, operations director at Celsus – the company responsible for maintaining the hospital with its facility management subcontractor, Spotless – said that sustainability credentials were a key consideration for all aspects of the building’s construction and fit-out including flooring. However, Tarkett vinyl flooring was chosen primarily for its suitability to withstand the hospital’s high-intensity cleaning regime.

“We recognise that Tarkett vinyl flooring has proven hygiene credentials suitable to healthcare facilities and that it has sustainability creditability that fits with the hospital’s Green Star goals,” Wenham said.

“This was considered at the flooring specification stage; however the primary consideration for the Tarkett flooring was its durability in the hospital environment. We are responsible for the building for 30 years and the lifecycle of its interior and exterior materials is a vital factor in the building’s ongoing value.”

Hospitals are constantly challenged by the need to invest and manage available funds, says Tarkett’s Smith and maintenance is one area that can offer enormous potential savings.

“The choice of the right durable and easy-to-clean flooring offers significant savings in terms of energy, labour and quantities of water and cleaning agents required over the product lifecycle,” she said.

“All our vinyl solutions offer perfect smooth and impervious surfaces, with a limited number of thermal welded joints for easier and more efficient cleaning.”

The company’s Life Cycle Cost analysis shows that it is 10 times more expensive to clean and maintain the flooring in a public place (assuming it lasts 20 years) than the original purchase and installation costs.

“Over two years, this means that cleaning and maintenance costs as much as the flooring itself. Flooring treated with wax, polish or other surface treatments is labour intensive to maintain and ultimately less cost-effective over its lifetime than our alternatives. Stripping and polishing also have a negative environmental impact due to higher water and chemical consumption,” explains Smith.

“Tarkett flooring’s combination of high-quality raw materials and advanced surface treatments ensures the highest levels of durability. It also has excellent surface resistance properties: our Tarkett iQ range has auto-scrub or dry-buff restoration technology, which means no wax or polish is required for the life of the product. This guarantees that your floor will retain its good looks throughout an extended service life, backed by our extensive warranties for complete peace of mind.”

Luigi Caporlingua, building manager at Spotless, which is responsible for maintaining and cleaning all areas of the building, said that the vast majority of the hospital’s floors are covered in Tarkett vinyl flooring.

Caporlingua had examined the Tarkett vinyl flooring specifications and cleaning requirements to ensure they met the hospital’s required standards and also were compatible with its cleaning products and equipment.

“We were satisfied that Tarkett’s vinyl flooring products were appropriate for their applications within the hospital, which is important because the hospital receives a high amount of foot traffic and has a high-intensity cleaning regimen.”

All floors in RAH are mopped daily and scrubbed weekly, with high-traffic corridors and infection-sensitive areas being mopped more frequently.

Spotless follows a lifecycle policy that extends to every material used in the facility over a long period. Close monitoring of the flooring’s wear and tear ensures the spot damage is fixed on-the-fly under the Tarkett warranty. Recyclability was another important consideration in Tarkett vinyl flooring’s specification and it fit with Spotless’ overall lifecycle analysis policy.

According to RAH architects Silver Thomas Hanley, Tarkett’s vinyl flooring products went through a significant amount of examination against the hospital’s various criteria before being selected.

The hospital’s environmental and sustainable approach focused and guided every facet of the building from start to finish. The project demanded high-durability properties in the make-up of the vinyl flooring to ensure resistance to wear from marks and scratching, and improved facility cleaning. There were additional advantages too: With less joints, the flooring provides flexibility for future replacement as required in high-use areas, and improves hygiene and infection control by reducing the chance of organisms or dirt falling into cracks.

The Tarkett vinyl flooring range has helped realise the design intent of the hospital’s interior colour scheme.

Smith commented that colour, pattern and texture were particularly important for flooring in healthcare facilities, especially since flooring went beyond being a mere surface covering to becoming a functional element of good interior design while also contributing to patient recovery and hospital staff efficiency.

“Flooring colours and patterns can provide a contribution to the wellbeing of patients at psychological and sensory level by creating a calming and reassuring atmosphere that promotes healing.”

Green Building Council of Australia chief executive officer, Romilly Madew said, “Research from the World Green Building Council has shown that incorporating green design in hospital infrastructure can deliver 15 percent faster recovery rates, a 22 percent reduction in the need for pain medication and an 11 percent reduction in secondary infections.”

One of the first flooring companies to recycle post-production waste, Tarkett commenced operations in 1957, and today remains the industry leader.

“Our iQ range of vinyl flooring, for example, contains on average 25.5 percent recycled content consisting of post-production/post-installation waste and is 100 percent recyclable,” said Smith.

“We also have iQ Natural, which is the benchmark in environmentally friendly flooring, with a new plasticiser based on oil from the Ricinus communis plant, and other natural fillers. Its natural and renewable content is 75 percent,” she added.