The Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is a labeling compliant with requirements of the EPD© International Program managed by the Swedish Environmental Management Council (SENCo). The EPD© program follows the ISO 14025 standard. The EPD Certification certifies that the products meet the environmental requirements contained in the environmental procurement policies; in essence, they contribute to implementing a system of continuous improvement of the environmental quality of the products.

With this certification we have added another important element to the “GARBELOTTO philosophy” on the
eco-sustainability of our products, in compliance with EU regulations, the environment and Made in Italy.

Greenwich was the consulting firm that followed and analyzed the certification process to obtain all the necessary requirements for EPD certification. In the wonderful interview by Elena Galbusera we tell you how Parchettificio Garbelotto became the first EPD certified wooden floor company in Italy!

Interview by Elena Galbusera:

“Today the Garbelotto company achieves a new record, being the first Italian company to have a line of EPD-certified parquet. We had the pleasure of interviewing Renza Altoè, CEO of the Garbelotto parquet company.

Garbelotto is a historic company that is always projected towards the future. Today the choice to certify EPD parquet. Are you the first in Italy? What convinced you to make a difference?

We have a 70-year corporate path behind us during which we have decided to focus on the production of high quality wooden floors and, more importantly, we have chosen to concentrate the entire production cycle within our factories to give market a 100% Made in Italy product. This decision entailed, and still involves, a considerable commitment on the part of our Research & Development department which is constantly working to study, design and define ad hoc solutions, able to meet the demands of an increasingly attentive and demanding. We work with a medium / high target for which the possibility of customization plays a fundamental role. Translated into practical terms it means a precise organization of the production part with the inclusion of machinery suitable for customization.

We started from an artisan company and we made our way thanks to the application of new technologies without ever forgetting our historical roots also because, for a reality like ours, the manual part remains an important element, in fact much of the work on the wood is made by the skilled hands of master cabinetmakers. The road traveled up to now has certainly been long and demanding, but it is thanks to the passion that drives our every choice that today we can define ourselves as a reference company both on the national and international markets.

Hence the desire to work on certifications, first of all for the company itself, we want all our collaborators to have the opportunity to operate in a healthy environment, respectful of both people and the environment and then we want to be sure to enter on the market safe products from a health and weelbeing point of view, so much so that we also check the quality of products that we in turn buy such as glue and paints.

“The health of our customers above all.”

Renza Altoè Garbelotto

Working with a medium / high target we have begun, in recent years, to approach projects of a certain depth where the possibility of using a technologically advanced product is very important. This was also the push that led us to develop our Clip Up System® installation system. With this product we have approached important buildings managed by architectural firms very attentive to the particular historical moment we are experiencing, therefore oriented to the philosophy of the Green Building. Among our flooring projects we include: the Kering Group in via Mecenate in Milan, the management offices of Torre Allianz or Torre Isozaky (CityLife – Milan) where, among other things, in the last few days we have finished the flooring of the third floor which will become the home of the Milan – Cortina 2026 Winter Olympics.

All these buildings are LEED certified, a certification that provides a score calculated on the basis of compliance with various requirements including sustainability and the healthiness of the materials. This is why we have chosen to certify EPD our parquet to give a plus to our architects and the end customer. EPD is an important sustainability certification that concerns not only the final product but also the company and which carefully evaluates the environmental impacts of production in a logic of eco-design and environmental improvement.

For us, having these certifications has become a mission, it is a confirmation of Garbelotto’s commitment to operate in a sustainable way and to be, in this sense, in step with market demands. Certifications are for us a flagship and a demonstration of our social and environmental responsibility.

“We are the first parquet factory in Italy to have EPD certified products!”

Renza Altoè Garbelotto

With Greenwich you have embarked on the EPD certification process. Can you briefly describe this path? The phases, the criticalities and the advantages?

Choosing to take the path of certifications is an important choice both in terms of economic investment and time. First of all, we made an entire team available to Greenwich which, for some time, has dedicated itself exclusively to this project. The criticality can be summarized in the search for all the data and all the information necessary for the certifier. Much of this material was recovered from the historical archive, while much more is linked to the daily life of the company. It is certainly a painstaking research work which, however, has also proved useful to us as a company; today we certainly have a lot of in-depth information about our work.

As anticipated, you are a company focused on innovation, Made in Italy and biocompatibility, all things that in common language are however translated as “dear”. How much does the cost of a “healthy and sustainable” product affect the buyer’s choice today?

Made in Italy has always been underestimated on the Italian market while abroad it is considered as an important added value to the product. If we talk about sustainability, the problem is not so much “expensive or cheaper” but the safety of the product itself and of our health. For example, let’s think about the fact that wooden floors are placed inside our homes and that probably about 80% of these have a heating structure, this translates into highly carcinogenic formaldehyde emissions that increase exponentially in the event that the floor is glued. Garbelotto floors differ in having a formaldehyde release 20 times lower than the limits imposed by European regulations and therefore translate into completely healthy and absolutely safe products.

Today, also considering the particular historical moment, we know how important health is so I would no longer want to hear about price but about a healthy, certified, sustainable product with a low environmental impact. I am sure that an increasingly attentive consumer fully understands the importance of a certified product and that this is the only way forward in order to make a difference.

Regarding the final price of our product, the EPD certification does not affect in any way as it is exclusively a corporate investment and evidence of our approach to the logic of attention to Environmental and Social issues.

“Companies that want to make quality do not do it by increasing prices.”

Renza Altoè Garbelotto

What are the main difficulties of a company like yours that is attentive to sustainability?

We must work and operate diligently following a careful code of ethics. Let me give a practical example. If I buy FSC certified wood, I have to follow a specific operational path. Tracking the production process is necessary. In this way, the end customer can trace the entire production chain and ascertain the quality of the product. I would speak of a difficulty in terms of greater organization and longer times.

By reading your story we understand that yours is a constantly evolving reality. Can we have a preview of the next challenge?

Garbelotto is always work in progress. Our R&D department never stops. A project on which we are very focused at the moment is precisely our Clip Up System® where we are planning an important advertising investment on television stations and the creation of a solid network of dealers and installers. We strongly believe in this laying system, which encompasses all geometries such as running, Hungarian herringbone, Italian herringbone and tile laying.

For almost a year he has been the Director in Charge of the FederlegnoArredo Wooden Floor Group. A difficult period given the Covid-19 pandemic. How has the sector reacted and how do you think the near future will be?

I took office exactly last July, at a very critical moment for the sector as well as for many others. The Covid-19 pandemic has created very important problems. As companies we had to follow the directives of the state among which to keep closed for more than a month and, for the first time, we were forced to put employees on layoffs. The greatest difficulty for a company like ours is dictated by the fact that the wood production cycles are long and continuous. When we reopened a turn of the key was not enough but we had to restart everything, just think of the ovens that are operational 24 hours a day. In 2019, the stalemate in production led the sector to lose about 15/20% of turnover. This, combined with the difficulties of communicating with customers and presenting the product at trade shows, made everything much more difficult.

This year, however, thanks also to the eco-bonuses, there is great excitement in the construction world. Furthermore, the house has once again played an important role in the life of each of us. The pandemic has made us rediscover the value of our homes.

Now the problem is that, in the face of an increasing number of orders, we have difficulty in finding raw materials and managing price lists, there are no longer certainties. We understood that it is essential to move strongly and decisively also at the European level where we are penalized with import duties that aggravate the above problem even more.

Being of an optimistic nature, I look forward aware of the fact that finding solutions is our Mission!

Working on the project of the first EPD parquet in Italy was fascinating and challenging. The detailed analysis of raw materials and the production cycle and the assessment of the impacts are the core of the Life Cycle Assessment and we have found in Garbelotto a fundamental availability and competence to achieve the final goal. We are proud to have contributed and to be able to present to Decisors and Designers a product of great quality and total compatibility with modern ESG issues applied to Green Buildings.”

Credit Greenwich