As we start 2015, it seems there is quite a bit of activity going on in the tile industry — from trade shows and other industry events to new standards and certification programs. It is apparent that everyone in various aspects of the industry has been busy.

In the fall of last year, Total Solutions Plus (TSP) was held in San Antonio, TX, and it was reported that it drew the largest crowd yet. I attended the conference, and the energy among the industry members who participated — totaling nearly 600 — was evident. In addition to socializing, everyone came ready to learn and network. “We’re really working together at Total Solutions Plus,” said Bart Bettiga, executive director of the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA). “It’s a true leadership management conference.”

During the event, TCNA Executive Director Eric Astrachan spoke on the state of the tile industry, including detailed ANSI standard updates. Additionally, he explained to the audience what new standards and procedures to expect in the near future, including a Health Product Declaration that requires complete disclosure of every ingredient and residual material used in each product. (A full feature about TSP can be found on page 40 of this issue of TILE.)

Along these lines, in the TCNA Spotlight, beginning on page 36, Bill Griese, LEED AP, TCNA Standards Development & Green Initiative Manager, explains the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for ceramic tile made in North America is now available for use by architects and specifiers seeking to satisfy green building project requirements such as those set forth by LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and other popular green building standards. The EPD is described as a reader-friendly comprehensive disclosure of the environmental impacts of the ceramic tile made in North America by the companies that contributed the data aggregated to produce the EPD: Arto, Crossville, Dal-Tile Corp., Florida Tile, Florim USA, Interceramic, Ironrock, Porcelanite Lamosa, Quarry Tile Co., StonePeak Ceramics and Vitromex de Norteamérica. As all major North American manufacturers participated in its development, the EPD covers well over 95% of North American-made tile.

Throughout the year, the TCNA will continue to update us on new industry standards and programs. Look for details in future TCNA Spotlights in TILE. Upcoming trade shows are also another vehicle to learn more. The International Surface Event (TISE) West (page 44) is just around the corner. The show will include a full educational conference program. A few months later, Coverings will return to Orlando, FL. This show, as well, will offer an extensive educational program. Additionally, the ACT Thin Porcelain Tile and the Grouts testing will make its debut at Coverings 2015. As Scott Carothers, director of certification and training for the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation and TILE’s technical editor, outlined in previous articles, the ACT certification program has expanded its testing categories to include Grouts and Thin Porcelain Tile — or TPT for short. This is just another example of how the industry members are diligently working to improve upon methods and standards that will benefit everyone.