In recent years, it seems the green movement has picked up considerable steam. What once seemed more of a specialty or niche in design, has now become a key component. Terms such as “LEED certified” and “sustainable” are more often than not attached to today’s project descriptions. As an editor for three magazines that cover the use of tile and stone in design, I am also noticing that more products are being made with the environment in mind.

Particularly, many tile collections are now being produced with a percentage of recycled material. Tile manufacturers are also taking measures to be green in their production process — from recycling water to the packaging that they are using. The steady increase in these types of products entering the market has led to more frequent use of them in designs.

Now it seems manufacturers of tile installation and maintenance products are joining the green building movement. It seems most of the leading manufacturers have at least one product line that is environmentally friendly, and certain ones are taking it a step further to make it a company philosophy.

In this issue’s Trend Report, beginning on page 34, we take a look at green installation products. One of the manufacturer’s that is featured is Fila, which is based in Italy. The company not only produces a line of eco-friendly products, but it has also taken many green initiatives. Soon, Fila plans to install a photovoltaic system, which will provide solar power to cover all the company’s needs — from the office and production facilities to the on-site research and development laboratory. “It will also prevent the emission of 766 tons of carbon dioxide; the equivalent of an average car travelling 4,855,307 kilometers,” said Francesco Pettenon, the company’s Commercial Director. “To achieve the same reduction through forest methods, an equivalent of 18,132 trees would need to be replanted.”

That will be quite a feat. It is obvious that Fila has a strong commitment to the environment. Of course, other manufacturers are also making changes with the environment in mind.

I also spoke with two installers to get their perspective on green installation products. While both are proponents, they also both noted that it is not always a request among their customers. It seems many people still need to be educated on the benefits of eco products.  “You don’t hear about them in the mass media,” said Frank O’Reilly, Founder of O’Reilly Tile Design in San Francisco, CA, and a LEED Green Associate. “Some of the home networks talk about them, but not everyone is watching those. You don’t hear about it on CBS or NBC, which the majority of the population watches.”

The installers I spoke with believe that it will be a gradual process.  The more the general public hears about the benefits of these types of products, the more they will request them in their tile installations. It is important for industry professionals to continue to spread the word. Just as the overall green building movement took time to gain momentum, the same will be true of environmentally friendly installation and maintenance products. Consumers will soon start to consider the parts that they don’t necessarily see. Stay tuned...