Happy New Year, everyone! I hope everyone has a bit more green in their lives this coming year-the good green of all kinds, if you know what I mean!

So earlier last year, the NWFA listserv noted in a discussion that "green" was not just a matter of sourcing, but can be a factor for all levels of the flooring industry. I asked for a list of tips and tricks for a green install and they kindly came up with the following:

• Dust Collection: When you're sanding a floor, either as a new install of unfinished or when you're refurnishing an existing floor, dustless is the green way to go. Not only do some woods contain resins or oils that a percentage of the population will react negatively to, but it's generally cleaner and healthier for all of us not be to breathing in all that dust or fine particles of finish. It also allows you to remove the dust for a controlled disposal, rather than have it go randomly into a landfill-and if from unfinished material, you might be able to burn it or use it in a garden.

• Don't waste the glue or finish: Pour out smaller amounts for each use so you don't have material drying and getting contaminated with dust before you can utilize it. You'll not only save resources; you will have better quality applications and save money.

• Recycle: Recycling is one of the best 'green' things you can do. If you are ripping up an old floor, try to save it and see if you can't give it a new home. Recycle the floor boxes and packaging. You might just take them to the recycling center and that's fine, but as another option, you can be like the Japanese. Did you know that in Japan they often use cartons as floor covers-they install the floor and then place the unfolded boxes on top to provide extra padding and protection during the remainder of construction.

• Low-VOC paints and adhesives: These are not just good for the homeowner, but they can be good for your workers as well. Have you mentioned to your insurance company that you use only non-toxic materials and asked if it might be worth a small discount on your premiums?

In addition to the obvious, I received some extra recycling tips from Dan G. Kourtis, of Kourtis Flooring Ltd. in Toronto:

• When we install unfinished flooring, we segregate all our end cuts and ripped cuts and give them away to friends and family and staff for firewood in order to divert from landfill.

• We cut our used sanding belts from the big sander into edger discs to get an extra use out of them on the edger before throwing them away. (This sounds like it's not just green, but a money saver, too!)

What other tips do you have? How do you keep your job site green and healthy for you, your workers, and your customers?

Elizabeth Baldwin has over 20 years of international wood sourcing experience. Very widely traveled, her résumé's "Special Skills" section includes "the ability to eat anything from raw horse to deep-fried scorpion." She serves as Metropolitan Hardwood Flooring's (metrofloors.com) ECO (Environmental Compliance Officer) and deals daily with the "green alphabet soup" of today's industry: FSC, CARB, LEED, and much more. She blogs for Hardwood Floors on all things green (and, as she says, " 'grey' and 'blue' and almost every color except 'black and white.' Nothing in this world is black and white, particularly not 'green issues.'")

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Using old waterborne finish (if not hardened): We like to 'back seal' all square edge flooring we are installing which is 4' or wider. Cupping issues are reduced and serves as a back-up to the vapor barrier.