In recent years, “green design” has become a hot topic wherever you go. At trade shows, conferences and in the field, it seems everyone talks about green in theory, but what are people actually doing to BE green? 

As editor of TILE, I interact with all aspects of the tile industry – from architects and designers to installers and tile manufacturers, along with the industry associations. And I must say, I am impressed by the efforts I am witnessing on all ends to make and use sustainable and environmentally friendly tile and installation products in today’s designs.

Several years ago, Green Squared – North America’s first sustainable product program written exclusively for tiles and tile installation materials – was introduced. Green Squared involves the sustainable product standard ANSI A138.1 and third party certification to that standard. After its introduction, some of the leading tile manufacturers jumped on board and had their product lines that contain recycled material certified. In this issue’s news section, you can read about the latest company to receive Green Squared certification. Mediterranea recently announced that its StonePeak production facility in Crossville, TN, currently produces 14 of its tile series that are now Green Squared certified by the Tile Council of North America (TCNA).

Also, in this issue’s TCNA Spotlight, beginning on page 40, Bill Griese, TCNA Standards Development & Green Initiative Manager, outlines the next green construction expectations: Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). “Green Squared is more than just a labeling program for green products,” states Griese in the article. “It represents North America’s consensus on what is required for a tile, mortar, grout, membrane or underlayment to be truly sustainable, including a full range of social and ecological attributes considered important to the North American green building community. The Green Squared Certified mark facilitates marketplace identification of such products.”

While EPDs have been around for a while and commonly used in Europe for over a decade, they are only recently receiving interest in the North American market. This has led to new initiatives by manufacturers, certification organizations and standards developers. In short, an EPD is a report of quantified environmental impacts of a product throughout its life cycle. The TCNA works hard to get the word out about such initiatives. More can be learned by reading the article.

And as the TCNA Spotlight points out, the Green Squared certification program not only recognizes tile products, but also grouts, mortars, membranes and underlayment. As a result, leading setting-material manufacturers such as Mapei have also taken the initiative seriously and have gotten products Green Squared certified.

In addition to certification programs, overall, many tile manufacturers are maintaining eco-friendly production processes.  I recently returned from a trip to Lexington, KY, where I visited Florida Tile’s facilities. The Italian-owned company, which earned its Green Squared certification last year, recycles all of its material. To prepare, it began saving all of its scrap material for about a year and a half to two years before using the recycled material in its tile products. Additionally, another part of its recycling process is taking all of the dust from the factory’s dust collectors and putting it back into the body of the tile.

Stay tuned to read more about Florida Tile’s green practices, as well as other company initiatives, in a future issue of TILE