Rob D. Brodman
What it is: Made of ceramic, glass, or stone, tile has unrivaled durability. It works in high-traffic areas such as entries, kitchens, and hallways. Manufacturers now offer more floor tiles with the look and color range of stone, ceramic tile, terra-cotta, or terrazzo, but with recycled content.
What makes it green: Recycled-content tile makes use of otherwise wasted by-products diverting glass, used tiles, granite dust, stone tailings, or unfired material from landfills and offsetting its high "embodied energy" cost (price of energy required to get a product from its source).
Cost and contact info: $4-$24 per sq. ft. Crossville's EcoCycle (931/484-2110): recycled porcelain. Fireclay Tile (408/275-1182): Debris Series has 50 percent recycled materials; Jelly Bean Rocks are recycled glass or tumbled onyx and marble tailings.
What it is: Bamboo and coconut palm, like wood, make warm-toned floors. Timber bamboo (a grass) produces a hard surface that ranges from light yellow to amber. Coconut palm is handsome and richly grained; it's slightly softer and varies in color.
What makes it green: They're fast growing and underutilized, reducing the demand for lumber. The densest, best-wearing bamboo product is made of bamboo strands molded together on overlapping layers. Be sure that glues are low-VOC (volatile organic compound) and that bamboo grew to maturity.
Cost and contact info: $6-$8 per sq. ft. Smith & Fong Plyboo (866/835-9859): bamboo and palm flooring; Neopolitan mixes light and dark strands. Teragren (800/929-6333): vertical- and flat-grain flooring available in natural or caramelized colors.