Rolling loads and foot traffic
Another crucial safety consideration is the amount of heavy rolling loads and foot traffic entering the building. Rolling loads are described as a weighted item dynamically placed upon an entrance mat or grid, potentially causing damage to the system. These weights are typically rolled over the mat or grid with a piece of equipment with multiple sets of wheels.
It is important to remember to factor in how much the facility encounters large pieces of equipment. For example, hospital entrances frequently see portable CT scan machines whereas in airports, luggage carts traverse the entrances. Machinery like scissor lifts and vending machines pass through a variety of buildings on a regular basis.
Heavy loads crossing a building’s threshold could damage the flooring material, which could impede accessibility or cause harm to building users. Due to this risk, it is important to select a thoroughly vetted flooring option to help ensure heavy rolling loads do not damage it.
Carpet tiles are appealing in this way, and stand up to heavy machinery and lots of foot traffic. The downside is they wear down over time and need to be replaced. Still, doing so will not break the budget.
Many manufacturers of entrance mats and grids test their products to prove they stand up to heavy rolling loads. The most powerful entrance grid on the market meets the demand of loads up to 454 kg (1000 lb) per wheel. Foot traffic and potential rolling loads are important factors in product selection, but cost is also another consideration. For example, a publicly funded K-12 school may not have the budget a large national hospital may have. Understanding the products and materials used and reading the manufacturer’s literature is a good way to make the right entrance flooring selection for a building. Also, facility managers can ask manufacturers how they measure the rolling load capabilities of their products to confirm the flooring has undergone the appropriate testing procedures.
Green building goals
In recent years, environmentally responsible options and sustainability considerations have risen to the forefront of design and construction. Building owners now choose to construct and occupy green buildings. Architects and designers are finding ways to creatively design healthy interior environments. Manufacturers optimize their processes to provide products outperforming their predecessors in terms of sustainability.
Additionally, building occupants want to work, play, or recuperate in spaces that will not harm their health. In fact, research suggests people who work and live in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified buildings are more productive and healthier than those in buildings that are not certified. According to a recent study, “improved indoor environmental quality is associated with better health outcomes. Recent research has demonstrated an impact of the indoor environment on cognitive function. … in high-performing buildings additional benefits to health and productivity may be obtained through green certification,” further explaining the correlation between green buildings and improved overall functioning for building occupants. (Read the article, “The Impact of Working in a Green Certified Building on Cognitive Function and Health” by Piers McNaughton, et. al. in the March 2017 edition of Building and Environment.) Luckily, many carpet tiles and entrance mats are available in environmentally responsible options, contributing to LEED credits. (View particular Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design [LEED] credits for entrance flooring at www.c-sgroup.com/files/literature/pedisystems-sustainability-guide.pdf.)
Select carpet tile varieties contribute to LEED building standards and some manufacturers collect used tiles—they will not be sent to landfills after their life cycle has ended. (To learn more about credits for carpet tiles, visit www.usgbc.org/search/carpet%20tiles?filters=type:credit_definition.) The downside is carpet tiles do not have a long life cycle. Additionally, because they do not collect water (like an entrance mat or grid), indoor air quality (IAQ) may suffer and the potential for airborne illnesses could increase.
Entrance mats and grids offer an additional advantage—tracked-in water and debris is trapped below the system. Therefore, they cannot become airborne and affect air quality. Use of entrance mats and grids are often recognized by many sustainability-focused programs, like LEED. Some products are even certified through initiatives like the Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Program developed by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. (For more information on the organization and the standard, visit www.c2ccertified.org.)