Green Materials Report: Wool Carpet

Wool carpet

Wool carpet

This post is part of the Green Materials Report series.  GBE is providing information on various building materials and what makes them green.  Each post focuses on one material.  We will be looking at the ingredients in the material, how it is used, what makes it green, and any green product certifications that it has earned.  We hope to develop a database of information to help consumers make informed choices about what goes in their buildings.  Enjoy the series!

Wool Carpet

Wool is the textile fiber obtained from sheep and certain other animals, including cashmere and mohair from goats, qiviut from muskoxen, angora from rabbits, and other types of wool from camelids.

Wool has several qualities that distinguish it from hair or fur: it is crimped, it is elastic, and it grows in staples (clusters).  In the United States the term wool is usually restricted to describing the fibrous protein derived from the specialized skin cells called follicles in sheep.

Carpet is made of four key ingredients – (1) the wool which is tufted onto a (2) primary polypropylene backing using what is essentially a giant sewing machine, and these two elements are bonded to the (3) backing material using a (4) low-VOC latex.

What Makes It Green

Wool is a rapidly renewable resource, it grows back after being cut from the sheep.  This means that there is essentially a never-ending supply of raw material.  The backing material can be made of jute, or possibly recycled wool as for one manufacturer.  Non-toxic latex is used as the adhesive to keep the fibers in place.

Some manufacturers will take back used wool carpet at the end of its life.  They then cut it up and use the recycled material to make new carpet, or refurbish the used carpet into new product.

Green Product Certifications

CRI Green Label Plus logoGreen Label Plus, a voluntary industry testing program for carpet and adhesive products, establishes the highest standard for indoor air quality (IAQ) ever set by the carpet industry. The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) created Green Label Plus to identify carpets and adhesives that are tested by an independent, certified laboratory and meet stringent criteria for low chemical emissions.

Environmental product declaration – for Flor Modular Carpet Tile with Wool Fiber

Health Product Declaration

A health product declaration could not be found for wool carpet.




Hides dirt Stains easily
Well constructed, will stand up to heavy traffic More expensive than other materials
Good insulator Fibers can become distorted, showing wand marks
Naturally flame retardant


Sources: Wikipedia, Cavalier Bremworth, Albemarle Carpet

Photo: Velkr0 through a Creative Commons License