The Story Behind the Center’s Reclaimed Wood Flooring

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Wood flooring is one of the largest quantities of materials incorporated into the Brock Environmental Center—covering 90% of the floor area. It was designed to satisfy the salvaged materials requirement of the Living Building Challenge’s Materials Petal.

The Living Building Challenge (LBC) requires as many elements as possible of the design to be composed of recycled, reclaimed or salvaged materials. By using reclaimed materials, it minimizes the carbon footprint that is created by new manufacturing processes. It also maximizes the retention of our natural resources by reusing materials and products already manufactured.

Sources of the reclaimed flooring

Behind every piece of salvaged material is a story of where it came from. There are two primary sources of reclaimed wood flooring being used at the Brock Environmental Center. The first is reclaimed oak wood flooring that is primarily composed of old barn siding. The wood was salvaged during the demolition of a barn and milled into a tongue and groove board that is 4” wide x ¾” thick. This product is being installed in the main corridor, reception area and large conference room of the facility.

wood bleachers salvaged for brock environmental centerThe other source came from reclaimed maple wood gymnasium floor from a middle school in Virginia Beach that was completely demolished and rebuilt. The maple flooring was “gently removed” from the gymnasium to preserve its integrity. The 1 ½” wide x ¾” thick tongue and groove gym floor has been reinstalled in the office and general back-of-house areas of the facility. The original finish of the wood will be removed after installation by sanding and reapplying a coating that will encompass both the reclaimed oak and maple floors.

Brock Environmental Center floor system

Both types of wood are incorporated into a “floating insulated” floor system composed of the following:

  • One layer of 2” rigid insulation applied directly to the concrete floor
  • Single ply vapor barrier on top of the rigid insulation
  • Another layer of 2” rigid insulation on top of the vapor barrier
  • 4” wide x ¾” thick FSC wood runners on top of the second layer of rigid insulation
  • ¾” FSC plywood applied to the wood runners with fasteners

Finally, the reclaimed maple or oak flooring is nailed and adhered directly to the plywood surface and refinished.

This entire system not only satisfies the salvaged materials requirement, but also provides an R–31 insulating value for the floor system—allowing a significant reduction in the consumption of energy to heat and cool the building. These salvaged materials not only reduce the carbon footprint of the construction, but they also have a story to tell about their origin and the effort that it took to find and transform them into reusable building materials.

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