UBC Undergraduate Research

An investigation into alternatives to PVC flooring in UBC Food Service areas Mattison, Ben; Rezaiezadeh, Shayan; Godfrey, Kai; Nazari, Rojin


UBC Food Services uses polyvinyl chloride (PVC) tiles for many of the floors in their cafeterias across the UBC Vancouver Campus. Development of sustainability regulations has led to inquiries over the environment and health effects of PVC, and whether its usage should be discontinued, as it has been identified a “Red List” material. As UBC moves towards building new buildings across campus, alternatives to PVC flooring have the possibility of being implemented. This report investigates and compares two alternatives to PVC, linoleum and ceramic tiles, for usage in the food service areas around UBC Vancouver Campus. Important factors investigated include the life cycle effects on the environment, health concerns and overall cost for a building’s lifespan. Using a triple bottom line assessment of each of the three materials, it was found that linoleum could match the performance of PVC in a food service area, with an overall lower cost over an entire life span, and lower environmental impact and without the release of toxins associated with PVC. However, ease of installation for PVC is a major factor in the limitation to implement alternatives. It is recommended that UBC considers linoleum as a serious alternative to PVC flooring in food service areas. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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