Back to the Future

Virtually indestructible, beautiful and sustainable to boot. In the world of building materials, that’s a powerful combination of traits, something you would expect from something cutting edge, like ...linoleum. Once considered passé and now marking its 150 anniversary, linoleum is finding new popularity as a natural flooring product made from the renewable materials like solidified linseed oil (linoxyn), pine rosin, ground cork dust, wood flour and minerals. The recipe has scarcely changed since its invention in 1863 by Sir Frederick Walton.

“Ingredients matter and sustainability is not an optional extra,” says Denise Waida-Scanish, a LEED Green Associate Account Executive at Forbo, the world leader in linoleum flooring, whose North American headquarters are in Hazelton. Forbo’s brands Marmoleum and Artoleum are known for ease of maintenance, hygienic properties, extreme durability, environmentally friendly properties and lowest life cycle costs. Waida-Scanish is a passionate advocate for the product that’s been made the same way for over a century, and she has been selling it to architects, designers, general contractors and flooring contractors for 19 years.

The sustainable attributes of Forbo Marmoleum is measured by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) compliant Life Cycle Assessment. This means that all stages of product life, from raw material extraction to final disposition, are looked at and compared to how each stage affects all environmental impact categories. Participation in these benchmarks ensures that Forbo continues to sell products that have the least environmental impact.

While Forbo’s linoleum is manufactured in Scotland (there are no U.S. manufacturers of linoleum), Waida-Scanish emphasizes that the company has conducted a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) on their linoleum products. “We can clearly see just how low the impact is even, considering shipping. Remember, those shipping containers are huge so we share the transportation burden with other products/ companies, and shipping even overseas actually has less burden then trucking something from coast to coast.”


by Julianne Mesaric