Raised Access Flooring Alternatives

What we’re seeing in the are of WLCA for developers of commercial buildings, is that the raised access floor is an enormous carbon contributor when it comes to fit-out (From the developer’s perspective at least — there may be higher carbon components in the tenant fit-out).
This was highlighted in a UKGBC report back in 2020, studying the feasibility of net zero building design ( Building-the-Case-for-Net-Zero_UKGBC.pdf) The study suggested raised access flooring had to be substituted; and it suggested “solid timber flooring” as an alternative; I don’t really know what that looks like though, in the context of a large commercial development.

Raised access floors are generally considered irreplaceable* with developers and architects, I think – at least where I work. I want to know about any case studies that have successfully replaced raised access floor panels – or at least alternatives to the high carbon ones that involve steel casings around a non-metallic core, but I would like to know of alternative solutions entirely, preferably.

*Note: by irreplaceable, I mean there is no alternative – of course, they’re replaced in buildings all the time, and that’s part of the problem…

All of Interfaces products are carbon neutral, and we are using our Rigid Core LVT for raised access in a couple new Apple and Google buildings.

Hi Gary,
For that particular product, is there an EPD, and more technical specs I could explore? I couldn’t find them at that link you provided.
I want to really dig into the materials and LCA numbers if at all possible, to compare with the products that are most commonly used in the UK. We’ll forget regional availability for the moment, if these Rigid Core products are only in the US.

Hi Mike,

I am unsure about alternative products but you can get reused raised access floors that are a 75-80% reduction in embodied carbon. Raised access floor panels are just high-density boards that are wrapped, seems like it should be a fairly simple one to solve for a product manufacturer from an embodied carbon perspective. The pedestals are only a small contributor to the embodied carbon of the system.


Hi Jack, thanks for responding.

So the reused panels are good for lowering the embodied carbon on a project, but their demand is so high in the last couple years, that there is nowhere near enough supply. Indeed, we’ve seen prices for the reused panels multiply. Furthermore, Kingspan are making a big deal about these companies that are buying up and redistributing the panels. They’ve recently pointed out that the reused panels don’t include any warranties; and keen developers don’t like that risk.

All of the above doesn’t negate the low-carbon benefit of reusing panels: It just means that we have to encourage developers to ensure their panels make it into the circular market (for example, by not gluing finishes down); and it means the insurance market has some work to do, I think…

There are also calcium sulphate-based panels, as a lower carbon alternative raised access floor panel, but these are currently less readily available (fewer manufacturers), as I understand it.

Hence, we’re trying to think 5 years in the future, if the demand is only going to increase and more radical solutions might be considered, what are the more radical solutions that are likely to be top of the priority list?

Mike, attached is the EPD for our Rigid Core.
wc_am-rigidcore-epd.pdf (849.9 KB)