In today’s eco-conscious culture, designers and end users search for ways to create healthier, more environmentally friendly interior spaces. Significant importance is placed on a material’s impact in both the natural environment and the one it is used to create, especially the evolving corporate workplace.
Ceramic and porcelain tile possess eco-friendly qualities inherent to its product construction that are often overlooked. Tile’s very materials are derived from nature. Its usable lifespan of around 50 years is virtually unparalleled, and it does not emit any volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which improves air quality for associates.
Tile’s innate sustainable features also contribute to a variety of green building certifications, including the recently introduced LEED v4. The modified standard rethinks what constitutes “sustainable” design - moving away from the single-element definition of recycled content to an all-encompassing perspective of longevity. This shift in focus helps reduce the overall footprint of manufacturing and the impact of materials on human health, while encouraging responsible sourcing to create economies of scale.
Below are several benefits that make tile a safe, non-toxic, and attractive floor and wall solution in green buildings:
- Tile manufacturers often incorporate a percentage of recycled content, whether it is recycled glass or reclaimed, crushed used tile, to reduce the footprint of products.
- Ceramic and porcelain tiles are 100% VOC-free. All potential VOCs are burned off during manufacturing when tiles are subjected to incredibly high temperatures. The indoor air quality benefit is so inherent in tile that there is no need to test VOCs or flush-out offices before they are occupied, as required by LEED v4, unlike other materials.
- Glazed porcelain and ceramic tiles are naturally antimicrobial and do not allow bacteria to grow on their surfaces. Moreover, advancements in grout materials have eliminated the need for chemical sealants. The new design trend of larger format tiles also plays part in the hygienic qualities of tile, reducing the number of grout joints required.
- The dense quality of tile can lend to building efficiency. If they are positioned in a space near windows, light colored tiles will deflect heat from sun, and help keep ambient room temperatures without adjusting the air conditioning.
- Life cycle analysis reveals that tile offers unparalleled longevity. Tile is intended to last at least 50 years when installed and maintained properly. When it is time to update or replace tile, it is easily diverted from the landfill. Tiles can be crushed in their entirety and reincorporated into new products, even new tile, as recycled content.
The environmental benefits of tile as a green friendly design solution are also recognized by globally accepted green building certifications. Emser Tile porcelain and ceramic collections contribute to at least the following five credits for workplaces seeking LEED certification:
- MRC2 Construction Waste Management: Recyclable packaging to divert work site construction debris from the landfill.
- MRC3 Sustainable Purchasing: Recycled content with no VOCs to support the inherent VOC-free quality of tile while also reducing use of virgin materials.
- EQ4.3 Low Emitting Materials: As a no-VOC design solution, tile eliminates the potential of introducing indoor air contaminants that could irritate or effect occupants.
- MRPC76 Material Ingredient Reporting: For material transparency, Emser Tile offers Health Product Declarations (HPDs) that disclose the raw ingredients within a product down to .001%, as well as if any ingredients pose a potential risk to human health.
- MRPC62 Material Ingredient Reporting: To reinforce material transparency, safety data sheets (SDS) denote the exact percentage of ingredients within a product as well as any known incompatible materials.
With the additional credits included in LEED v4 2016, Emser Tile also contributes to:
- Material Resources: Building Products Disclosure and Optimization – Material Ingredients: An HPD discloses the potential impact of material ingredients on human health, in order to prioritize occupant well-being.
- Material Resources: Construction and Demolition Waste Management: Recyclable product packaging reduces waste from landfill generated from construction sites.
- Indoor Environmental Quality: Low-emitting Materials: Tile’s inherent no-VOC qualities make it an optimal floor and wall design solution for improved indoor air quality, removing any concern of off-gassing from the very beginning of installation throughout daily occupant use.
Originally published as an Emser Tile column in the fall issue of Green Operations.
Feature image: Cassero™ in White and Gray