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PlybooPure Bamboo Flooring

PlybooPure bamboo flooring is made with low-emitting, no-added formaldehyde (NAF) soy-based binder or phenol formaldehyde, no-added urea formaldehyde (NAUF) binder and is available with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification… Read more
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  • Third-party forest certification based on standards developed by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is the best way to ensure that wood products come from well-managed forests. Wood products must go through a chain-of-custody certification process to carry an FSC stamp.

    Manufactured wood products can meet the FSC certification requirements with less than 100% certified wood content through percentage-based claims (30% certified content is required if only virgin wood fiber is used; certified-wood content as low as 17.5% is allowable if the rest of the fiber content is from recycled sources).

    With a few special-case exceptions, FSC-based certification is a requirement for GreenSpec inclusion of any nonsalvaged solid-wood product and most other wood products. A few manufactured wood products, including engineered lumber and particleboard/MDF, can be included if they have other environmental advantages--such as absence of formaldehyde binders. Engineered wood products in GreenSpec do not qualify by virtue of their resource efficiency benefits alone (for more on this, see EBN, Vol. 8, No. 11).

  • Just how low the VOC level needs to be for a given product to qualify for inclusion in GreenSpec depends on the product category. For most products, we require certification to California’s health-based emissions standard, CDPH Std Method v1.1 standard (also referred to as California Section 01350), which tests a product’s resultant VOC concentrations in the space after a given period of time. For wet-applied products like paints, caulks, and adhesives, we still also look for VOC content instead of, or in addition to, verified low emissions; this is because emissions testing doesn’t adequately test initial offgassing, and VOC content is currently the only widely available proxy.

Brent Ehrlich
Products Editor

PlybooPure bamboo flooring is made with low-emitting, no-added formaldehyde (NAF) soy-based binder or phenol formaldehyde, no-added urea formaldehyde (NAUF) binder and is available with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. The flooring comes either flat or vertical-grained in a natural or amber color. Plyboo Pure is available prefinished with an aluminum oxide coating or unfinished; all flooring measures 5/8" x 3-3/4" x 75" and comes 23.4 ft2 per box. The company also offers a comprehensive range of matching trim moldings in stairnosing, threshold, reducer, and baseshoe profiles, and baseboard prefinished in amber or natural color--though these trim moldings are not currently available in the Plyboo Pure option.

Most bamboo for flooring comes from the Hunan province of China. It's not a food source for pandas, which generally inhabit higher-elevation forests. Despite the long-distance transport of the product to the United States, the durability, hardness, and short regeneration time of bamboo provide justification for using it for flooring instead of conventionally harvested wood. Bamboo is typically processed without preservatives or with benign boric acid, but more toxic preservatives are occasionally used when unprocessed poles are exported. Some bamboo flooring is glued together with urea-formaldehyde binders, which is the primary negative aspect.

As the popularity and availability of bamboo increases, so does the need for uniform and credible certification of green attributes. Ideally there would be verification of low ambient VOC emissions, responsible growing practices, limited or benign pesticides and preservatives in the product, and decent manufacturing conditions. Relevant certifications for the first two are increasingly available.

Products listed here have one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Made with FSC certified bamboo

  • No added formaldehyde

  • Made with binders and adhesives that have ultra-low formaldehyde concentrations (less than or equal to 0.02 ppm)

  • Verified low VOC emissions (certified to meet Floorscore or Greenguard Children and Schools, meet Carb II, or have formaldehyde emissions of 0.05 ppm or lower using the ASTM E-1333 test for Europe's E1 standard).

Both FSC certification and low emissions will likely become a requirement for GreenSpec listing in the future.

LEED Credits

EQc4.3: Low-Emitting Materials—Carpet Systems

IEQc4.3: Low-Emitting Materials—Flooring Systems

MRc6: Rapidly Renewable Materials

MRc6: Certified Wood

MRc7: Certified Wood

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