Green Tip – August 2012

All Squared Away

By Bill Griese, Tile Council of North America, LEED AP BD+C

With the launching of Green Squared® earlier this year, our industry has set sail and is ready to conquer new and exciting opportunities in the sustainability marketplace. With hundreds of products already certified and a warm reception by the A&D community thus far, the program appears to be on course and running with great momentum. So, where are we with Green Squared today and what can be expected as we move through the second half of 2012 and into 2013 and beyond?

The green fourteen

As of July, 2012, 14 companies are participating in the Green Squared program. Six of those companies have products certified, and eight expect to have products certified by year end. Ten of the participating companies are manufacturers of tile, and four are manufacturers of tile installation materials. So far, only U.S. and Mexican manufacturers are participating, but it is expected that foreign manufacturers who export to the U.S. will begin applying for product certification very soon.

Unified definition of green

With Green Squared, the North American tile industry now has a unified position and consistent interpretation of what it means for a product to be green. The Green Squared Certified mark facilitates marketplace identification of products with the full range of social and ecological attributes most important to the North American green building community. But Green Squared certification is much more than a labeling tool for products. It is a valuable specification tool, one which has been much-needed so that the industry can have its most sustainable products specified into green building programs.

LEED: the tile industry is now a contender!

Perhaps the most important green building program in which the tile industry needs to be relevant is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®). In 2011, Pilot Credit 43 was established, and points were awarded for the use of products which were certified under industry sustainability programs. For the carpet industry, the program was NSF 140, and for the resilient floor covering industry, the program was NSF 332. At the time, the tile industry had not yet established a program like Green Squared, so it missed a golden opportunity to compete with other industries for product specification under this credit. Luckily, Pilot Credit 43 was retired in March 2012 as the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) began efforts to establish a new Pilot Credit, 52, in which additional sustainable product programs could be explored. Currently, the tile industry is working with USGBC, and it is likely that the use of Green Squared Certified products will soon earn points under Pilot Credit 52 and in future versions of the LEED Rating System.

Tile to join NAHB and CHPS programs

Another program in which Green Squared is making a splash is NAHB’s National Green Building Program. The National Green Building Standard is currently undergoing a major revision, and it is expected to be released by year end. In the current draft revision, points are awarded for the use of Green Squared Certified products.

Also continuing to evolve is the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS). In the CHPS master framework, points are awarded for the use of environmentally-preferable products. For carpet, these are considered products which are certified to NSF 140, and for resilient floor covering, those which are certified to NSF 332. Currently, the master framework has no mechanism for specifying environmentally-preferable tile products since it has been several years since its last revision. Fortunately, CHPS is in the process of updating this document, and they are considering the addition of Green Squared for tile. This is very important since most of the thirteen participating states update their CHPS criteria based on the master framework.

2013: Handbook section on Green/Sustainable Design

Finally, it should be noted that the 2013 version of our industry’s very own TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass, and Stone Tile Installation will include a Green/Sustainable Design section in its installation details. Project specifications are so often written based on these details, and it is no different for green projects. So, it is important that appropriate standards are referenced wherever possible. Thus, the 2013 Handbook will include expanded information on Green Squared, and each detail will suggest that products which meet the Green Squared standard be specified for green building projects.

The introduction of Green Squared is very timely, especially with the growing demand for industry sustainability programs. With a strong initial participation from manufacturers, and a presence which is already being established among some of the most well-known green building programs, the industry should be in good shape as sustainability initiatives continue to grow.