Tile Industry Targets LEED and Federal projects

Tile Industry Targets LEED and Federal projects

Interest in tile products is on the upswing due in large part to two major milestones in green building: the US Green Building Council’s move to LEED v4, reinvigorating green building conversations; and the US Environmental Protection Agency’s formal recommendation, in December 2016 that all federal purchasers to use Green Squared to assist in the identification and procurement of environmentally sustainable tiles and related installation materials, putting increased focus on that standard.

The Green Squared certification program of the Tile Council of North America (TCNA), along with Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for North American-made ceramic tile, mortar and grout, are garnering more attention from A&D, specifiers, and purchasers.

Tile is especially relevant to LEED v4 in two major ways. With LEED MR (Materials and Resource) Credits heavily focused on product transparency and the availability of environmental data, the industry-wide EPDs available for North American-made tile, grout and mortar help projects seeking LEED points meet transparency requirements when tile is used.

Also, the new LEED Pilot Credit, “Certified Multi-Attribute Products and Materials,” awards a point if a certain percentage of building products are certified to meet their relevant industry sustainability standards.

With Green Squared listed in LEED as the appropriate standard/certification program for the tile industry, use of Green Squared Certified tile and installation materials can contribute toward this point.

The US EPA’s recommendation to federal agencies to use Green Squared when specifying tile is important because tile and related installation materials are officially on the “menu” of options for federal agencies to consider when purchasing products for sustainable projects. Without the Green Squared recommendation, it would be difficult for tile to be considered for such projects.

“The US EPA’s recommendation sets an important precedent,” says Bill Griese, Director, Standards Development & Sustainability Initiatives, TCNA. “It’s likely that other public and private purchasing initiatives will follow this recommendation, or at least be inspired to consider Green Squared – and thus, tile – when sorting through surface covering options for sustainable construction. Truly, Green Squared introduced an opportunity for federal procurement and significant other projects.”

“As an industry, we can be proud of Green Squared as it represents the pragmatic establishment of demanding performance thresholds relating to sustainability,” says Griese. “This is a stakeholder-developed standard, including environmental and sustainability experts, and supported by a broad consensus across the tile industry for the benefit of consumers and the environment.”

“With the vast majority of North American-made tile, grout, and mortar represented by industry-wide EPDs, and with a growing number of products being Green Squared Certified in North America and abroad, TCNA, its members, and the greater tile industry are well-positioned to remain relevant as green building evolves in the years ahead,” adds Eric Astrachan, Executive Director, TCNA.

An EPD (Environmental Product Declaration) is a formal report of a material’s environmental footprint. 


The tile industry has three separate UL-Certified industry-wide EPDs for North American-made ceramic tile, mortar and grout.  Representing roughly 3.35 billion square feet of tile and 2.25 billion kg of grout and mortar produced annually, these EPDs represent the vast majority of these North American-made products.

From data collected from North American manufacturers, each EPD reports the 60-year impact potential, per installed square meter, for each of six major environmental categories: Global Warming, Acidification, Ozone Depletion, Smog Formation, Eutrophication, Elemental and Fossil Abiotic Resource Depletion.

Topics: Certifications, Flooring, Interior Design, Sustainable Trends and Statistics

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