Our CERTIFIED client Tarkett, a worldwide leader in innovative flooring solutions, has an impressive track record in manufacturing flooring that prioritises the impact it may have on the health & well-being of those who inhabit the space. Tarkett knows that its market appreciates a better product and, crucially, recognises the symbiotic connection between healthy people and a healthy planet, and so is committed to designing products that support healthy indoor air quality.
In Tarkett’s Q&A with our CEO Dr. John McKeon, we learn about the founding story behind Allergy Standards Ltd (ASL), how simple environmental interventions can make a big impact on those living with chronic respiratory conditions, and how design thinking in health care can empower people to lead healthier lives. This Q&A is a follow up on Tarkett’s recent whitepaper detailing its participation in the asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program, in which Tarkett say about its commitment to improving indoor air quality for all:
“Our goal? Build social equity from the ground up — one asthma & allergy friendly® certified floor at a time”
In his early days as an ER doctor in Ireland, Dr. McKeon was struck by the number of parents desperate to take control of their kids asthma and allergies by reducing their triggers, but struggled to find the appropriate products for their homes.
One of the mums actually said to me, “You know, doc, it would be great if somebody could test all these products and then put on a certification to show this product keeps the promise it makes when you buy it,” says Dr. McKeon
The idea of a certification program was born. Other programs existed at the time but fell short in different ways – some were lacking in scientific testing, others were unrelatable to consumers. Dr. McKeon’s goal at Allergy Standards was to have both good science and a program that would resonate with consumers. Several programs which focused solely on the health of the planet also already existed but Allergy Standards wanted to advance the conversation to include the impact products have on human health.
“Unlike some environmental certifications that might focus on how these products are sourced, created, and then disposed of at the end of their useful life, asthma & allergy friendly® focuses on the in-use phases of the products. We talk a lot about One Health, an approach to achieving optimal health outcomes by recognizing the connection between healthy people living on a healthy planet,” says Dr. McKeon
Allergy Standards has expanded since its initial inception and is now encompassed in the wider Indoor Air Innovation and Research Institute (iAIR Institute), whose mission is to help the world create the healthiest possible indoor environments through science, education, and collaborative research. The Indoor Air Innovation and Research Academy, part of the iAIR Institute, teaches people to use design thinking principles, journey mapping, and patient-centered design to improve lives.
Dr. McKeon explains that our physicians, nurses, physiotherapists and dieticians have direct impact on our health but so also do those who create our built environments – manufacturers, retailers, architects, designers, facilities managers, building professionals and procurement professionals for our workplaces and schools. It is akin to a chain of linked parties whose decisions have direct impacts on human wellness.
“A person tasked with procurement is not a surgeon, a nurse, or a meditation coach, but when they choose what flooring or air conditioning unit to use, they have a big role in designing, constructing, operating and maintaining our built environments, which in turn has a big impact on our health outcomes. [The impacts of their decisions reverberate down the entire chain.] If we think about a B2B or employment setting, for example, the way we ventilate, clean, and maintain a safe work environment goes beyond facilities management. It’s also relevant for HR management,” explains Dr. McKeon.
Today, ASL’s Certification Program has certified products for every room of the home, including furnace filters, cleaning products, textiles, vacuum cleaners, paint, laundry machines, and Tarkett floor coverings. Resilient and textile flooring, paint, and insulation products that are CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® are now compliant with LEED Low-Emitting Materials credit requirements. Clients of the program are provided with promotional and marketing support, findings from research, and access to extensive educational material. Furthermore, the iAir Academy offers educational courses that cover various aspects of indoor air quality relating to the built environment.
It is important to ASL that the companies we work with share our mission to create a #OneHealth world, where healthy people live on a healthy planet. Tarkett has always centered people as part of the design process and it is this mindset that resonates deeply with us.
Dr. McKeon shares “Companies that have a shared value mindset want to improve society as a calling, and they’re a great fit to work with Allergy Standards. Like Tarkett, these companies don’t want business as usual. They know their market appreciates a better product. They also want to make measurable investments into their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategy. We would argue that not only is Tarkett making a better flooring product, the flooring product actually helps to improve people’s lives.”
In its recent whitepaper, Tarkett details its participation in the asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program and what the program means to it:
“These aren’t just floors — they’re the essential foundation to creating spaces for holistic wellness,” says Sandi Soraci, Segment Director, Healthcare, Tarkett North America, of the iQ collection.
At Tarkett, social and environmental responsibility aren’t add-ons. They’re woven, stamped, and sealed into everything we do. But more importantly, we don’t just say this, we prove it. For us “good enough” is never good enough. We’re committed to continually beating our own industry-leading high standards and offering you products that help you create healthier environments for everyone in the space. We’re also committed to complete transparency in terms of the selection and independent testing of every last component of our products. It means that when you select Tarkett flooring, you can trust the science, and trust that you have a quality product that puts your health first.
Tarkett offers both residential and commercial flooring solutions that have been certified asthma & allergy friendly®. Our certified flooring products, including the iQ® collection, iD® Latitude, Heterogeneous collection, and Powerbond® RS reduce exposure to asthmatic and allergic triggers and are ortho-phthalate- free, moisture-resistant, and easy to clean and maintain.
Powerbond® RS, the first soft surface flooring product to be certified asthma & allergy friendly®
was developed for the well-being of both people and the planet. In addition to its research-backed design, which is scientifically proven to help mitigate against indoor asthma and allergy irritants,Powerbond® RS is made from recycled materials and, like all Tarkett North America floors, is free of ortho-phthalates.