One of the key features of the Eiffel Tower’s €33 million facelift, at least as far as visitors are concerned, is the fact that the floor on the first level was reconstructed entirely of glass. Millions of visitors who may not have wanted to brave the journey to the very top of the tower were able to enjoy an even more unnerving experience by looking into the 200ft of space between the landmark’s central void.

Hundreds of miles to the south of that, tourists can literally step into the void by entering a glass box attached to the side of the Chamonix Peak in the French Alps, two miles above the ground. And like the 850ft Dachstein Glacier Sky Walk in Austria and the floor of the CN Tower’s 1122ft high glass floor, the very act of stepping onto something you can see through remains one of the most thrilling and unnerving experiences the construction world can create. But the reality is that these are often made of laminated tempered panels capable of supporting just as much weight and footfall as virtually any other material. They’re often anti-slip, shatterproof, easy to maintain, can be visually stunning, give the impression of space, and do wonders in terms of adding light. But there’s another key reason for their popularity in 2022 – glass is incredibly eco-friendly, given that it is made of non-polluting raw materials, its manufacturing process is highly energy efficient, it requires low levels of water to produce and generates very little waste.

It’s also a highly recycled material, with an average recycling rate of up to 80 per cent, according to figures produced by the Brusselsbased Glass Alliance Europe. By comparison, paper recycling

rates are closer to 65 per cent. Glass, like bamboo, cork and Linoleum – a material often mistaken by the public for vinyl – are featuring more and more in modern designs thanks to the ever-increasing awareness of ecological issues. Belgium’s Balta home, a global market leader in machine-woven carpets took its RE_GENERATION collection of carpets made from recycled materials to the last DOMOTEX, demonstrating a strong focus on sustainability and a deep understanding of the market by turning what it described as trash into treasure, upcycling old plastic bottles, discarded bits of cotton and pieces of leather from old clothing. This was a similar theme adopted by São Paulo-based interior designer Jalil Amor when working on the interior of the Mama Shelter Hotel in Belgrade. The floor coverings Amor designed to evoke the Serbian capital’s city’s rich Ottoman Empire legacy were actually made from old fabric carry bags hand-woven by Ghashghaei and Luri nomads using kilim, soumak and ziggurat techniques.

Trio provides three solutions in one

Vielaris Art Parquet of Lithuania remodelled the offices of a real estate investment firm in Paris by installing a floor using “Trio”, a system of parquet panels made of beech laminated with an upper layer of oak - a sustainable floor covering system in which geometric triangle, diamond and trapezium elements are laid to form an elegant and highly expressive pattern. A growing commitment to sustainability led German brand ZIRO to increase in the proportion of cork-based floor coverings in its range. These included Korkplus, which the manufacturer describes as the ideal floor to walk on in bare feet.

Building design and construction companies are increasingly being asked to include information in their decision-making processes that take into consideration potential environmental impacts. Interested parties expect unbiased product information consistent with current best practices and based on objective scientific analysis, which means that purchasing decisions may require the provision of environmental information such as Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs).

Dasso group, a global innovator and advocate of bamboo products, insists that the existence of an EPD report helps support their drive to increase the use of bamboo material in construction, something it has done successfully, given the fact that it has installed more than 10,000,000m2 of it around the world. Installations include places such as Madrid Airport and Wuxi Grand Theater on the banks of China’s Taihu Lake.

The use of CO2 as a new raw material is a promising approach for producing plastics, according to Covestro, the Leverkusen-based producer of polyurethane and polycarbonate based raw materials. One of them, cardyon, which is used to produce soft polyurethane foam for mattresses and upholstered furniture, recently went in a new direction when it was used as a subfloor to a 99 x 59 metres playing field, cushioning the effect of a new, bright blue artificial turf.

The company insists that cardyon is providing the industry with a more sustainable solution by using carbon dioxide, an industrial waste gas, as a new and useful example of raw material feedstock.

"We are also broadening our raw material base beyond fossil hydrocarbons and bio-based raw materials by bringing CO2 back into the value chain and helping to close the carbon loop. It is our vision to drive a new perspective within the industry and beyond on value creation through carbon," the company said. "For the first time, synthetic sports flooring can be produced with carbon dioxide, which means less crude oil is needed as a raw material. The world’s first subfloor of this kind is now in use in the field hockey facility of a renowned sports club in Krefeld in western Germany. The CO2 for the subfloor is contained in a binder — or more precisely, in one of its components, a polyol.

"Using cardyon and the ground breaking process for CO2 utilisation, it is possible to save up to around one-fifth of crude oil in production which is an innovative contribution to preserving fossil resources." Tarkett, itself is one of the leaders in sustainable flooring and sports surface solutions, they announced a collaboration with the Swedish environmental company Ragn-Sells, aimed at developing carbon negative mineral fillers for vinyl flooring by 2025. The calcium is extracted from ash piles in Estonia and the calcium carbonate is produced using carbon capture technology.

During the past 50 years, Estonia has incinerated oil shale rock to produce energy. As a result, more than 600 million tons of oil shale ash have been disposed of in nature, heavily impacting the environment. Ragn-Sells has developed a patented solution transforming ash into useful mineral fillers using carbon capture technology. Several hundred thousand tons of mineral fillers, most of them calcium carbonate, are used by Tarkett for their vinyl flooring solutions every year. The calcium carbonate currently used by Tarkett is already carbon neutral. With the calcium carbonate produced by Ragn-Sells, it is expected to generate a carbon negative footprint.

The partnership with Ragn-Sells will contribute to achieving its 2030 objective of reaching 30 per cent of recycled content in its raw materials. Arnaud Marquis, Chief Sustainability Officer, said: “This project has the potential to produce flooring with raw materials that contribute to the clean-up of the environment in Estonia while capturing carbon dioxide.

"As a result, our vinyl flooring will have a lower carbon footprint and an increased amount of recycled content. This is exactly the kind of innovative and robust partnership that we believe will pave the way for a circular and carbon neutral society. Egypt’s Oriental Weavers is proving that good business doesn’t mean compromising on environmental stewardship. In each of their factories, awareness efforts are underway to improve eco-measures and reduce operating costs by installing more efficient equipment and new technologies."

The company said: "Our holistic approach to managing our environmental impact and working to serve as a responsible company means that every member of the OW Group has the opportunity to join us on this voyage."

And Jaipur Living has become the latest business to earn the Nest Seal of Ethical Handcraft, the first consumer-facing seal that assures the artisans who work in homes and small workshops receive the same worker protections as their counterparts in socially compliant factories and the products they produce meet the highest degree of ethical production standards.

Izzet Nalcakan, CEO of Nurteks Carpets, says the company accepts the task of raising environmental awareness of the people, institutions and organisation with which it interacts in the process of creating and presenting products, and fulfils its environmental responsibilities to its local and regional neighbours by effective use of the environment and natural resources all while ensuring their continuity.