Important updates to LEED® EPD provisions and relevance to tile

In February 2019, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released the newest edition of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Version 4.1. From review of the updated criteria, a prioritized focus on reduced carbon pollution can quickly be observed. This has resulted in objectives that are more achievable than before, which emanate from expanded product life cycle considerations and that are generally favorable for tile. 

Updates to the Credit, Building Disclosure and Optimization – Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), are substantive. Similar to v4.0, the use of products with EPDs can earn up to two points on a LEED v4.1 project. One point can be earned if enough products transparently report life cycle environmental impacts. A second point can be attained if enough products are selected on the basis of optimized life cycle environmental impact reduction. Where v4.1 differs is in its expanded recognition of industry-average environmental impact reporting and its focus on carbon footprint comparison.

Benefits for tile in v4.1

For tile, the LEED v4.1 EPD updates mean the following: any tile, mortar or grout represented by one of the several tile industry-wide EPDs can contribute one full product toward a 20-product threshold required to obtain a point on a LEED v4.1 project. That’s compared to the former 0.5 product contribution in LEED v4. This means that specifying a single tile system – tile, mortar, and grout – which is represented by an industry-wide EPD, could satisfy three of the 20 products required for an entire building.

Furthermore, opportunities to obtain a second EPD point through the use of tile on a LEED v4.1 project are more attainable than they were with v4. Previously for v4, 50% by cost of all products used on a project had to have an environmental footprint lower than the industry average across three different environmental impact categories. With v4.1, only a minimum of 10 “optimized” products is required. What’s more is that a building material counts as 0.5 product if the manufacturer simply has a life cycle impact reduction plan for that product, regardless of whether it’s better or worse than industry average. Additionally, a building material can contribute one full product if its carbon footprint is lower than comparable building material(s) considered for the same function, 1.5 products if it has a 10% lower carbon footprint, and two products if it has a 20% lower carbon footprint. 

Industry-wide EPDs facilitate optimization strategies 

For tile and EPDs, the big picture LEED v4.1 takeaway is simple. Industry-wide EPDs are helpful now, more so than ever before. USGBC has clearly emphasized the importance of industry-averaged life cycle data, which is inherent to EPDs, as such data is critical toward optimized environmental life cycle performance. Not only do products included in industry averages now contribute a full product toward the environmental life cycle transparency threshold, such data can be used as an important reference point for a manufacturer to strive for optimization through continuous improvement. Averaged data can also be used to compare carbon footprints of two separate types of products within the same product category for optimized specification. Industry-wide EPDs facilitate both optimization strategies. 

With industry-wide EPDs and the direction in which USGBC continues to evolve with LEED, the tile industry remains poised for “sustained” contribution to LEED building projects for years to come. 

The latest with Green Squared® – Certified Product Searchability

Earlier this year at Coverings, the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) announced a partnership with Ecomedes, creator of an online database of product information relating to environmental attributes and certifications. The objective of this partnership is to establish ways for designers, purchasers, and users of tile and related installation materials to more easily obtain product information needed to help fulfill their environmental goals. 

The immediate deliverable of the TCNA-Ecomedes partnership is a Green Squared Certified® product search page which has been incorporated into the Green Squared website. Previously, searching for Green Squared Certified products involved contacting approved Green Squared certification agencies or inquiring with manufacturers. Now, an up-to-date listing of certified products is housed in one place and managed by Ecomedes, who interfaces regularly with participating manufacturers and their Green Squared certification agencies. Plus, each entry within the Green Squared Certified database contains valuable product information that is especially relevant to green building project leaders, architects and designers. These include downloadable certificates, EPDs (environmental product declarations, if available), and additional educational resources from Users of the library have the option to filter Green Squared Certified products by manufacturer, certification agency, or Green Squared Certified products that additionally have EPDs.

For sure, establishing a flagship library of Green Squared Certified products is important, but the benefits don’t end there. Green building specifiers and purchasers use a variety of broader construction product locator tools. If Green Squared Certified tiles or installation materials aren’t ‘on the menu’ of any given tool, they will not be considered, regardless of their eligibility, the quality of information provided, or how well-known the products are. With Ecomedes hosting the Green Squared Certified product library, the tile industry is well-positioned with a partner that can facilitate an increased number of eligible products being ‘on the menu’ for consideration in North American green building projects.

All information within the Green Squared Certified product database is syndicated with Ecomedes’s master database, Fulcrum (, which is the green product library used by many of the largest architectural firms and purchasing organizations in the US. Furthermore, Ecomedes has partnered with some of the largest purchasing organizations in the country, including the GSA and California Energy Commission, to develop proprietary libraries that contain only products that satisfy a particular purchaser’s needs. As an example, Ecomedes is the exclusive host of the online product library used by Federal purchasing officials to find certified green products: With Green Squared Certified products entered into Ecomedes’s database, there is inherent uptake into libraries created proprietarily by Ecomedes for purchasers. 

In today’s day and age of database positioning, information partners are extremely important. According to Ecomedes, they “connect buyers and sellers with better data to make a purchasing decision and get the right information needed for projects.” To that end, they are a leader in green building, and the tile industry is well-positioned having them as a partner in Green Squared.

Oh, and in case you haven’t noticed, the Green Squared website recently received a facelift. For more information about the program and direct linkage to the Green Squared Certified product library, visit

Green Squared Certified® Sustainable Tiles and Tile Installation Materials Qualify for New LEED Credit

leedBuilding design professionals, facility managers and others seeking LEED building certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) can now look to certified sustainable ceramic tiles, glass tiles, and tile installation materials to earn the needed credits. To contribute, tiles and related installation materials on a project (mortars, grouts, etc.) must meet the extensive environmental and social responsibility requirements of Green Squared, the ceramic tile industry’s multi-attribute, cradle-to-grave sustainability standard.

Specifically, Green Squared Certified products now qualify to contribute toward a new LEED Pilot Credit offered for using “Certified Multi-attribute Products and Materials.” The credit requires that certification details, including which Green Squared electives were satisfied, are disclosed, and that a product lifecycle assessment (LCA) has been conducted.

The intent of the newly-available credit is “to encourage the use of products and materials for which life-cycle information is available and that have environmentally, economically, and socially preferable life-cycle impacts,” according to USGBC.

To garner a LEED point under this credit, at least 25% by cost of the permanently installed building products on a project must meet a USGBC-approved product sustainability standard, like Green Squared, and have third-party validation to prove it. For Green Squared Certified products, that validation comes from a thorough assessment and certification from any of three international sustainability leaders: UL Environment, NSF International, and SCS Global.

green-squared-certified“USGBC included Green Squared as an approved multi-attribute sustainability standard because the criteria are rigorous and fully in-line with the intent of the new credit,” says Bill Griese, the Director of Standards Development and Sustainability Initiatives for Tile Council of North America (TCNA). “It’s not easy to get on that list. The Committee looks at each standard closely to make sure products that meet them are truly sustainable. The credibility of the LEED program relies on that being a rigorous review and approval process.”

In other words, by scrutinizing sustainability standards and recognizing only those that truly identify sustainable products, this LEED pilot credit makes it easier to build green by providing the criteria from which a specifier can choose products.

“When you see the Green Squared Certified logo you know the product manufacturer has invested in sustainable production,” says Griese. “USGBC recognition underscores that and helps those looking for LEED certification through use of sustainable materials.”

The new pilot credit is available immediately for registration on current LEED v3 and v4 projects and will continue to be available when USGBC transitions exclusively to LEED v4 in October 2016. How much a Green Squared Certified product contributes toward earning this pilot credit depends on the amount of recycled content, closed loop manufacturing waste reclamation, and/or regional raw materials used to produce the product.

Griese, who worked with USGBC and other sustainability experts on the new pilot credit further added: “The release of this new Pilot Credit establishes an important precedent for the specification of certified multi-attribute sustainable products for the years ahead. It affords architects and designers the flexibility to select product types based on design preferences and cost, and then to optimize based on sustainability within each relevant selection.”

The new pilot credit was posted to the LEED Pilot Credit Library August 15, and the full text is available at

About Green Squared
Green Squared (ANSI A138.1) is the North American ceramic tile industry’s multi-attribute sustainability standard and certification program for sustainable products, with conformance requirements addressing the environmental and social impacts of tiles and tile installation materials. Products that are third party certified as meeting ANSI A138.1 by an approved Green Squared certification body may bear the Green Squared Certified mark.  For more information, visit

About TCNA
TCNA is a trade association representing manufacturers of ceramic tile, tile installation materials, tile equipment, raw materials, and other tile-related products. Established in 1945 as the Tile Council of America (TCA), it became TCNA in 2003, reflecting its membership expansion to all of North America.

The Tile Council is recognized for its leadership role in facilitating the development of North American and international industry quality standards to benefit tile consumers. Additionally, TCNA regularly conducts independent research and product testing, works with regulatory, trade, and other government agencies, offers professional training, and publishes industry-consensus guidelines and standards, economic reports, and promotional literature. For more information, visit

North American “Three-PD”: An Industry First!

Unpacking the importance of EPDs for tile, mortar and grout

bill_grieseBy Bill Griese, LEED AP BD+C, director of Standards Development and Sustainability Initiatives, Tile Council of North America

Big news: two additional EPDs round-out the EPD trifecta

At Coverings 2016, Tile Council of North America (TCNA) announced an industry first: the completion of two industry-wide Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for tile mortar and tile grout made in North America, which when used along with the existing EPD for North American-made ceramic tile, provide the environmental impact of the full installed system.

The EPD for North American-made ceramic tile, which was released in 2014, is a 23-page report containing a comprehensive disclosure of the environmental impact of over 95% of the ceramic tile produced in North America. Representing approximately 2.5 billion sq. ft. of tile, the following manufacturers contributed data to the study: Arto, Crossville, Dal-Tile Corporation, Florida Tile, Florim USA, Interceramic, Ironrock, Porcelanite Lamosa, Quarry Tile Company, StonePeak Ceramics and Vitromex de Norteamérica.

Similarly, the two new EPDs for North American-made mortar and grout provide lifecycle-based data on the vast majority of the main materials used to set tile, representing over 2.25 billion kg. of products produced annually in North America. The following mortar and grout companies contributed data to the study: Ardex, Bexel, Bostik, Crest, Custom Building Products, HB Fuller/TEC, Interceramic, LATICRETE, MAPEI and Cemix/Texrite.

What are EPDs, and why are they important?

Product selection is a major component in green building. Products can impact the environment in different ways, and it is important to understand the variety of contributions by all products. The sustainability of a product involves much more than recycled material content, energy efficiency, or any other single attribute. Conformance to multi-attribute sustainability performance thresholds and whether environmental information is transparently reported should be considered when evaluating a product’s true sustainability. Additionally, how products combine into installed product systems is important.

green-01Product conformance to the North American tile industry’s standard for sustainability, Green Squared®, is a good indicator of sustainability performance. With regard to transparency, EPDs are the most common vehicle for appropriately communicating environmental information.

An EPD provides a comprehensive overview of how a product impacts the environment – specifically, global warming, abiotic resource depletion, acidification, smog formation, eutrophication, and ozone depletion. The primary intent of an EPD is transparency, and while developed within a standardized reporting framework, the EPD itself does not indicate conformance to any particular environmental performance threshold(s). Just as nutrition labels inform with respect to food choices, an EPD informs with respect to sustainability.

The industry-wide EPDs for North American-made tile, mortar and grout are based principally on lifecycle assessments that address myriad aspects: sourcing and extraction of raw materials; manufacturing processes; health, safety and environmental aspects of production and installation; production waste; product delivery considerations; use and maintenance of the flooring; and end of product life options such as reuse, repurposing, and disposal. Each of these three EPDs provides 60-year environmental impacts, per square meter of installed product, based on “cradle-to-grave” LCA (life cycle assessment) data submitted by participating companies. Additionally, product-specific (proprietary) EPDs may be available from each of the participating companies.

All three industry-wide EPDs are based on a comprehensive analysis by thinkstep, Inc. (formerly PE International) and have been independently certified by UL Environment. Both thinkstep and UL Environment are well-established leaders in the field of sustainability assessment and validation. This means there is no “greenwashing” and that a formal account of the true environmental impact of tile, mortar and grout is provided and has been critically reviewed and verified by independent third-party experts.

EPDs for tile, mortar and grout provide specifiers and green building professionals with the information they need to understand the environmental impact of the fully-installed system. For more information and to download copies of all three North American industry-wide EPDs in their entirety, visit

EPDs for tile, mortar and grout provide specifiers and green building professionals with the information they need to understand the environmental impact of the fully-installed system. For more information and to download copies of all three North American industry-wide EPDs in their entirety, visit

Relevance of EPDs for tile, mortar and grout

The tile industry’s three EPDs are valuable resources for many reasons. EPDs provide manufacturers opportunities to see where they stand relative to the industry average, and allow a means to assess progress toward continuous improvement. Also, LCA data from the EPDs can be extracted to populate product information databases. Such databases are being used increasingly today by A&D and building life cycle experts for Building Information Modeling (BIM) and to make informed product decisions.

Furthermore, the three EPDs showcase the industry’s minimal environmental impact. For example, the industry-wide tile EPD, though it does not itself draw conclusions or report on ceramic tile’s environmental performance relevant to competitive surface materials, tells an interesting story when reviewed side by side with publicly available EPDs of other flooring products. When compared to other product EPDs, ceramic tile has the lowest 60-year environmental impact per square meter. Similarly, the industry-wide EPDs for mortar and grout report very low 60-year environmental impacts per installed square meter.

With regard to green building, the industry-wide EPDs for North American-made tile, mortar and grout are important tools for architects and specifiers who wish to use tile to satisfy green building project requirements. A product manufactured by any of the manufacturers who contributed data to these EPDs can contribute toward points and/or satisfy the criteria of virtually every North American green building standard and rating system: LEED, Green Globes, NAHB National Green Building Standard, ASHRAE 189.1, International Green Construction Code, CalGreen, CHPS and GSA Facilities Standards for Public Buildings.

green-03Also, having submitted data for the industry-wide EPDs, many participating manufacturers have already or will soon start to develop and release product-specific EPDs, which could potentially qualify those products to additionally contribute toward points and compliance in green building.

But, the most exciting aspect of the tile industry’s EPD trifecta? As most green building standards, codes, and rating systems provide incremental credit for each product that is addressed by an EPD, joint use of EPDs for tile, mortar, and grout means that a single tile installation could potentially contribute “triple!”

Moving Forward

Publicly-available North American industry-wide EPDs for tile, mortar, and grout, when used together, can provide in-depth environmental data and paint a clearer picture of the life cycle environmental impact of a tile installation. With the transparency provided by EPDs for the main materials used to install tile, along with the multi-attribute performance thresholds of Green Squared® which have been established for several years, specifiers are fully equipped with the information they need to specify green tile industry products in 2016 and beyond.

Sustainability Feature – August 2015 “Green Issue”

The January 2015  deadline for HPDs:  did we survive?

bill_grieseBy Bill Griese, LEED AP BD+C, Standards and Green Initiative manager, Tile Council of North America

Do you remember the panic over Y2K? It was seemingly all anyone could talk about toward the close of 1999. At the stroke of midnight on December 31st, it was believed the year 2000 would be indistinguishable from 1900, causing all computers to crash and creating financial and infrastructural chaos.

A Y2K-like scare gripped the manufacturing community near the end of 2014. At least 26 of the largest architectural firms in the U.S. mandated manufacturers supply HPDs (Health Product Declarations) for all building products by January 1, 2015. Stated consequences for failing to meet the deadline ranged from pursuit of alternative product options to complete deletion from product catalogs.

Some building product manufacturers, including a few in the tile industry, met the January 1 deadline for HPDs, but many didn’t. And yet, as with Y2K, everyone is doing just fine.


So, what is happening with HPDs?

HPDs, which involve building product disclosure of chemical ingredients and associated risks and hazards, are still very much a part of the overall green building conversation and continue to be heavily supported within the architectural community. In fact, today there are seemingly more inquiries about human health ramifications of products than there are about environmental ramifications. Nevertheless, since the January 1 “deadline” has come and gone, the urgency for HPDs has relaxed to a certain extent. This can be attributed to three main factors: delayed implementation of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Version 4, the as-yet unreleased Version 2 of the HPD Open Standard, and the lingering controversy surrounding HPDs in general.


There are many initiatives driving the adoption of HPDs, but the biggest is arguably USGBC’s (US Green Building Council) LEED. When LEED Version 4 was released in late 2013, it was announced that “points” would be awarded toward certification for the use of products with HPDs in LEED building projects. The 60,000-plus registered LEED projects and 20,000-plus certified LEED projects, along with LEED’s substantial influence in the green building marketplace, thrust HPDs into the spotlight. However, after the release of LEED Version 4, it was announced that projects could be registered in accordance with older versions of LEED through most of 2016. As a result, according to a USGBC presentation given at a Chemicals Summit in April 2015, there have been just 18 projects certified to LEED Version 4, only one of which claimed HPD-related points toward certification.

Version 2, HPD Open Standard

Another factor slowing the pace of architectural adoption of HPDs has been the delayed release of Version 2 of the HPD Open Standard, the document that defines the requirements and chemical cutoff thresholds for manufacturers to follow when creating HPDs. Version 2 will contain some new and several modified requirements for HPDs, and many manufacturers have elected to wait for its release before issuing HPDs for their products.

Material contents vs. end-user exposure

Finally, even with widespread architectural demand, some remain reluctant to accommodate HPDs. There is an ongoing debate over material content vs. end-user exposure, and manufacturers and scientists alike agree that pure chemical ingredient reporting can be misleading, especially when chemicals are encapsulated or are only one component of a harmless compound.

Even though their adoption has been delayed, chances are good that HPDs are here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. Organizations like USGBC have invested substantial time and effort in establishing provisions for HPDs in building project specifications. USGBC will require the use of LEED Version 4 exclusively beginning in October 2016, and many have predicted that this will generate more demand for HPDs. Additionally, the HPD discussion will likely be reinvigorated when Version 2 of the HPD Open Standard is released. And finally, manufacturers recognize the general rise in demand for material health transparency and are working toward consensus on HPD solutions that are technically correct and provide relevant information.

What’s next for the tile industry?

TCNA and its members are well versed in LEED Version 4’s HPD-related requirements and can provide education and project solutions in preparation for increased demands as 2016 approaches. Additionally, TCNA has been in communication with the HPD Collaborative, the organization responsible for developing the HPD Open Standard, and it is expected that special considerations will soon be given to certain building materials, including some ceramics, recognizing them as inherently inert with no assumed health risks. And because ceramic tiles are made from natural ingredients that are fused together to form a homogenous and inert product, the ceramic tile industry can readily provide HPDs to satisfy a variety of project requirements.

Did we survive the January 1, 2015 deadline “crisis”? Not only did we survive, it is expected that the tile industry will remain in good position as health-related green building initiatives such as HPDs evolve, with support from various parties working to increase awareness and ensure HPDs accurately address ceramic tile.

Green Tip – August 2014

The latest with IgCC and tile

bill_grieseBy Bill Griese, LEED AP BD+C, Standards and Green Initiative manager, Tile Council of North America

More than two years since the inaugural release of the International Green Construction Code (IgCC), the document’s first major revision cycle is nearing completion. What is the IgCC, and how is the current revision cycle relevant to tile?

Developed by the International Code Council (ICC), the IgCC provides model code language for states and municipalities to establish baseline sustainable design requirements for new and existing buildings. Serving as an overlay to the existing set of Codes developed by ICC, including the International Building Code (IBC), IgCC allows for the implementation of corresponding, credible and enforceable criteria. This minimizes the need for jurisdictions to rely on rating systems such as LEED which are not written to be enforced as law and sometimes contradict existing building Codes.

When the IgCC was originally developed, the Chapter 5 working group on materials, of which Tile Council of North America (TCNA) was a member, strived to develop and embed multi-attribute and lifecycle-based criteria. For over a decade leading up to that time, many manufacturers were promoting single environmental attributes (recycled content, regional materials, etc.) represented by different labels across different industries, which resulted in an disorganized, confusing, and often misleading marketplace. For this reason, many industries, including the tile industry, recognized the need to report on the true lifecycle impacts in the form of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and establish multi-attribute sustainability criteria based on broadly-recognized international standards. At the time, however, many industry sustainability specifications and EPD initiatives were still in development and not yet available for simple reference in IgCC, so the first version was released without mention of them. Since then, much progress has been made that led to a new proposal, GG212, in the current IgCC revision cycle.

TCNA is a proponent of GG212, which involves a revision to Chapter 5 to establish an option for sustainable product selection based on conformance to multi-attribute sustainability standards such as Green Squared® and/or on the availability of EPDs. This proposal identifies a list of reference multi-attribute sustainability standards to be used, encompassing approximately 10 product industries and applicable to over 1,000 domestic manufacturers and many more worldwide. Similar to industry specifications for strength and performance referenced throughout the Building Code, these industry specifications for sustainability would allow for IgCC product selection based on consensus criteria. Additionally, GG212 allows for the use of EPDs so that specifiers can better understand the lifecycle environmental impact of products when making a selection.

In addition to TCNA, proponents of GG212 include the Resilient Floor Covering Institute, Carpet and Rug Institute, US General Services Administration, US Environmental Protection Agency, NSF International, JSR Associates, and GG212 was preliminarily approved for inclusion in IgCC during the Committee Action Hearings in May 2014. Final action on GG212 will be taken by the ICC membership in October at the Public Comment Hearing.

What’s next for tile? Should the ICC membership vote to uphold the Code Change Committee’s May 2014 ruling to approve GG212, provisions of the proposal will be rolled into the 2015 IgCC. This means that Green Squared Certified® tile products and/or products with EPDs will meet Code criteria for sustainable building materials.

Green Tip – September 2012

Federal initiatives: sustainable product procurement

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

In 2009, President Obama issued Executive Order 13514 for Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance. This order required the federal government to demonstrate leadership in the use of sustainable technologies and environmentally-preferable materials, goods and services.

Over the past three years, Executive Order 13514 has generated several directives, including federal green purchasing programs. Through these programs the federal government has used its enormous buying power to stimulate market demand for green products. This has impacted the construction industry in a number of ways, especially as it pertains to governmental construction and product procurement.

Various new laws and parts of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) now require that agencies purchase environmentally-sustainable products. Per the National Technology Transfer Act (NTTAA) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-119, federal agencies have been directed to use voluntary, consensus standards in their regulatory and procurement activities. On many occasions the government has turned to industry for these standards. Often only industries with sustainable product specifications have been considered under preliminary procurement efforts, making the establishment of the tile industry’s sustainable product standard, ANSI A138.1/Green Squared®, very relevant.

For government building projects the General Services Administration (GSA) now requires that its employees comply with the GSA Green Purchasing Plan (GPP) when selecting building products. GSA employees rely on industry sustainability standards for direction on which products to choose. Many of these standards, including ANSI A138.1/Green Squared®, are referenced in the GSA’s Performance Based P100 Program – Facilities Standards for the Public Buildings Service.

To further the goals of Executive Order 13514, the Section 13 Workgroup on Product Standards and Ecolabels, co-chaired by the GSA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was formed. This group is currently developing a report with product selection guidelines based on existing environmental sustainability standards and eco-labeling programs. If completed and released later in 2012, this report would go to the White House Council on Environmental Quality and be published in the Federal Register.

While these initiatives are centered predominantly on federal government procurement, it is likely they will have a strong influence on the greater green building community and green product selection in general. Given the direction sustainable product specification is heading and the emerging demand for industry standards, having ANSI A138.1/Green Squared® already in place is huge for our industry, as it ensures ceramic tile and related installation products can be considered for federal government projects.

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.