Story at a glance:

  • The type of health care flooring you choose makes a big difference to patients and caregivers.
  • Solutions like American Biltrite’s ABPURE Infinity Collection are both carbon neutral and comfortable under foot.

The need for sustainable, people-friendly, easy to clean products in health care settings is great, especially as the built environment is responsible for roughly 40% of global carbon dioxide emissions.

Nearly 5% of those greenhouse gas emissions are reported to come from the world’s health care sector, according to the Commonwealth Fund. The US health sector is responsible for an estimated 8.5% of national carbon emissions. Experts point to a growing need to make health care systems greener, recommending renewable energy integration, natural lighting, sustainable materials, green roofs, and smart building management systems as part of overall design, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The Need for Sustainable Health Care Design

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Mentor Hospital is Cleveland Clinic’s 23rd hospital and the first new hospital in northeast Ohio since Avon Hospital opened in 2016. Photo courtesy of Cleveland Clinic

Health care facilities nationwide have largely taken note of this need. In 2007 Cleveland Clinic committed to LEED for all of its new major construction projects. “Our guidelines on all of our projects are to meet those criteria,” says Travis Tyson, director of planning and design at Cleveland Clinic.

Cleveland Clinic has an Office for a Healthy Environment that oversees sustainability across facilities—not just the buildings and mechanical systems but a lot of different programs, Tyson says. The health care system is constantly considering ways to reduce energy and water usage as well as consider each material that’s used in its designs.

“We take a hard look at all of our suppliers and what our materials are made from. We want to make sure they aren’t hazardous to the health of our caregivers or our patients. When we specify something we always ask for that detailed information so we can review it and make sure it’s something we want to put into our buildings.”

Every year the Cleveland Clinic team reviews its many spaces—from waiting areas to patient rooms—to see if there are any design needs, especially in highly trafficked areas. “The same products might not last the same amount of time because of wear and tear from patients and such,” Tyson says.

The clinic uses its own system to evaluate flooring, furniture, and even the walls, but they strive to use materials and furniture that are highly durable. “We try to get the right quality materials because we don’t want to go in there every two years and keep replacing things.”

Forward-Thinking Flooring

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ABPURE Infinity is occupancy-ready, with no initial setup needed. Rendering courtesy of American Biltrite

Designing products to last is a key part of the mission at American Biltrite, a more than century-old manufacturer innovating in commercial flooring and performance sheet rubber products. Take their ABPURE Infinity Collection, for example, which launched in 2023. The cradle-to-gate, carbon neutral rubber sheet flooring is made with renewable natural gas (RNG) from 100% organic waste. “It’s an occupancy-ready rubber floor. A lot of rubber floor needs to be finished after installation, but not in our case,” says Catherine del Vecchio, vice president of marketing at American Biltrite.

The Red List–free rubber flooring is low maintenance, easy to clean and disinfect, and you never have to wax it, thanks to its innovative Nfuse technology. The patented product treatment technology doesn’t just coat the product but penetrates and seals the rubber flooring, extending its life with superior resistance to rolling loads and eliminating the need for stripping, sealing, or waxing after installation and beyond. It’s also highly flexible and easy to weld and cove to the walls, as it will not whiten, crack, or break.

ABPURE also won’t experience any tarnishing effect when you clean it—a result of extensive R&D during the pandemic, when American Biltrite applied the ASTM F925 testing method, using various disinfectants on different types of rubber flooring. The patented ABPURE Nfuse was the only rubber flooring that did not show signs of loss of luster nor tarnishing, while other SBR rubber floors did. “This exercise proved to us that our ABPURE rubber floors are different than others. It is much easier to clean and disinfect,” Del Vecchio says. “We now know why some SBR rubber floors seem to be hard to clean; it’s because of a reaction from the most commonly used disinfecting agent on SBR rubber floors. ABPURE patented rubber formula provides unique properties, pure colors that last, and is easy to clean and disinfect.”

ABPURE Infinity is manufactured with renewable natural gas derived from organic waste from industrial, commercial, agricultural, and even residential activities. The new energy source is produced locally by collecting this waste and, instead of letting it go to a landfill where it would release greenhouse gas, it is transported to biomethanation farms, where it’s fermented and purified to generate renewable natural gas. “We use the full amount of RNG made from 100% organic waste to offset ABPURE’s cradle-to-gate carbon footprint, as measured in our Environmental Product Declaration.”

Acoustics and ergonomics are added benefits of this and American Biltrite’s other rubber flooring solutions, as rubber flooring both controls sound and is more comfortable for staff on their feet all day. “You want the least amount of disruption for the patient, so having a line that has all the ergonomic properties of rubber flooring is really beneficial for a facility and for the patient,” Del Vecchio says. Not having to wax it also reduces the amount of disruption in a health care facility.

A Complete Palette

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ABPURE Infinity is 3-millimeter rubber sheet flooring with tone-on-tone chip visual. The Infinity palette features foundational base colors from light to dark within hue families to create harmonious tonal combinations. The line has a large selection of foundational grays and beiges, environmental blues and greens, and uplifting accent colors. Rendering courtesy of American Biltrite

The colors for the Infinity collection were inspired by nature—from the clear blue lake feeling of Expanse Blue to the mossy hue of the Eco Greens. Designers can choose from an intentional, biophilic color palette that sits nicely alongside classic neutrals—all part of 20 total colors. “These colors are very natural looking. They’re soothing,” says Lora Di Fabio, American Biltrite’s product designer and Color Marketing Group board member. She says blue is becoming even more popular in design in recent years, surpassing the much beloved greens. “I met with some designers a couple of weeks ago, and they are all specifying blue for some reason,” she says.

Beyond foundational colors like grays, whites, and beiges, design teams can also choose from chromatic colors—or what American Biltrite calls their “new neutrals” and organic-feeling accent colors. A bright trio of colors called Jovial are another great option and a good fit for pediatrics or therapeutic areas. No matter the color, the choices come across as comforting, Di Fabio says.


The carbon-neutral rubber sheet ABPURE Infinity Collection is the first flooring collection produced with renewable natural gas from organic waste. Rendering courtesy of American Biltrite

American Biltrite also has an in-house color lab to create custom colors for customers. “The minimum requirement for custom colors is only 2,500 square feet, so a big part of my time is working with our color lab on custom colors for projects,” she says.

While SBR-based rubber flooring may fade over time, perhaps impacting the overall look of a space, that doesn’t happen with the patented ABPURE, Di Fabio says. “That’s a huge advantage of our ABPURE. The colors will last.” ABPURE Infinity comes with a 10-year color fastness warranty.

American Biltrite, too, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. “We’ve manufactured rubber since 1903, and we’re here in North America,” Del Vecchio says, noting that much of the rubber sheet used in health care systems is imported from Europe. “We manufacture here, and we hold more patents than the other players.” Even during the pandemic, considering supply chain issues all over the globe, American Biltrite was able to stay in operations in North America.

“People could really count on us. We’ve been through the Spanish flu, two world wars, and some difficult economic times, and we keep going. We’re just a phone call or truckload away.”