Tile containing recycled content or set with materials which emit no harmful odors meets the criteria to be called ‘green’ in some rating systems, but, if it’s manufactured overseas and brought here using a great amount of transportation energy, should it still be considered part of an environmentally friendly local-government building?
We’ve seen this scenario play out a few times in the past several years, and are always amazed that fabulous tiles manufactured within 500 miles of our location are not used on local ‘green’ projects. (Of course, we’re also flabbergasted by local projects that bring in contractors and subcontractors from other states, but that’s another blog topic.)
The point is that ‘green’ criteria to date have addressed individual components of a tile installation – the composition of the tile or setting material, the long-term durability of tile, the fact that tile doesn’t emit any VOC’s (volatile organic compounds), where it’s manufactured, or how the plant that makes it handles its water supply. Now, however, there’s a measurement standard which will encompass all aspects of ‘green.’ ANSI’s new Green Squared Standard (A138.1) is a “multi-attribute, total-system approach to sustainability.”
Within the standard, things like recycled material, life-cycle assessment, and re-use of post-life product are detailed. It’s complex and measured by independent certification laboratories so that the industry now has definite points of evaluation and end-users can determine which products are truly ‘green.’ With the Green Squared certification, customers will be able to see that they are choosing some of the most sustainable products on the market today.
‘Green’ features aren’t new to tile and stone, but this quantification of its positive attributes should help easily translate its viability to architectural specifiers and consumers. “Tile’s inherent durability, and the perpetuity of the natural materials out of which tiles are manufactured, have made ceramic tiles the natural choice for centuries,” states the 2012 TCNA Handbook.