Tiling the Path to a Sustainable Future
By Bill Griese and Eric Astrachan, TCNA
As green building initiatives continue to evolve, so too do expectations for the sustainability of building products. Today, product expectations are especially influenced by green product standards and green building specifications. While environmental responsibility is still at the heart of all green endeavors, other concepts ranging from human health to social responsibility also play a role in what is considered green. The Tile Council of North America (TCNA), its members, and members of the greater green building community are considering a full gamut of sustainability initiatives in an effort to create a broad and wide-ranging sustainability standard, titled Green Squared, for the many products that go into sustainable tiling systems. Not only will sustainable tile be considered, but also the mortar, grout, and many other products needed for finished floors and walls. Additionally, building on these efforts, TCNA and its members are working to raise awareness and integrate sustainable tile industry practices into green building standards and rating systems.
Green Squared: A Standard for Sustainable Tiles and Installation MaterialsGreen Squared will focus on product standardization in accordance with the North American green building industry’s practices, expectations, and leading initiatives. In fact, it will be the first sustainable building material standard to encompass a full range of products within an industry. It will also standardize sustainability concepts which are unique to the tile industry. As part of an industry with a wealth of durability standards, best practice installation standards, and responsible manufacturing techniques, the following requirements are being considered for inclusion:
- Recycled or reclaimed material content within the product
- Responsible product packaging
- Product compliance with industry product performance standards
- Little to no product emissions
- Established responsible cleaning and maintenance guidelines
- Manufacturer particulate emission specifications
- Manufacturer fuel specifications
- Responsible raw material sourcing
- Manufacturer Environmental Management Plan (EMP), including utility audits, water conservation mechanisms, and waste minimization
- Manufacturer social responsibility strategies
- Corporate compliance with environmental regulations, labor laws, safety regulations, and Federal Trade Commission green marketing regulations.
Green Squared will soon be considered by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A108 Committee, which represents a diverse cross section of tile industry and green building community stakeholders. Once approved, it will serve as a valuable tool and clear standard for assessing the overall sustainability of tiles and installation materials in today’s green building world.
Tile Sustainability Acknowledged in Green Building Standards and Rating SystemsThrough the efforts of TCNA and its members, in April 2010, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) issued an addendum to section IEQ 4.3 of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Version 3, which stated the following:
- “Mineral-based finish flooring products such as tile, masonry, terrazzo, and cut stone without integral organic-based coatings and sealants...qualify for credit without any IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) testing requirements.”
- “Products that are inherently non-emitting sources of VOC s, specifically stone and ceramic...and glass without integral organic-based surface coatings, binders, or sealants, are considered fully compliant without any VOC emissions testing.”
International Green Construction CodeTCNA participated in the preliminary drafting of the new International Green Construction Code (IGCC). Once released in 2012, the IGCC will likely become a new baseline by which green buildings are designed. Like plumbing or electrical codes, the green code will be considered law if adopted by local jurisdictions. In the development of this code, TCNA represented the tile industry by providing critical insight into the contribution of tiles and related installation materials to sustainable construction. With IGCC development still in progress, TCNA will continue to participate in public hearing and comment activities.
In SummaryProduct standards and green building specifications have a profound impact on all segments of the tile industry. Through the development of Green Squared, TCNA and its members are transforming inherent tile industry sustainability strengths into standardized sustainability expectations and are developing initiatives to further improve the sustainability of tile industry products and meet the evolving expectations of the North American green building community. Also, as active and concerned members of the green building community, TCNA and its members are sharing their expertise and participating in the development of green building standards and rating systems. With its green efforts in full force, the North American tile industry is endeavoring to make it easy for builders to tile their way to a sustainable future!
About the Authors: Bill Griese, LEED AP, is the Standards Development and Green Initiative Manager at the Tile Council of North America (TCNA). Eric Astrachan serves as Executive Director of the TCNA.