Volume 28/Number 6; September 1/8, 2014
By Louis Iannaco
Almost three years after its inception, Green Squared, the initiative developed by the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) to recognize and certify sustainable products for the North American tile industry, is maintaining its importance, according to ceramic executives.
Flooring’s first sustainability standard for tile and tile installation materials, Green Squared was developed by TCNA under the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) process and recognizes manufacturers for environmental leadership and corporate social responsibility across a broad range of indicators, covering environmental product characteristics, product manufacturing and raw material extraction, end-of-product life management, progressive corporate governance and innovation.
According to Bill Griese, standards development/green initiative manager, TCNA, the standard has strengthened the tile industry’s presence in the green building community. “With continued influence and an emerging presence in today’s green building standards and rating systems, awareness of the standard and the demand for Green Squared-certified products are on the rise. This has resulted in increased A&D familiarity with Green Squared.”
Today, he noted, the use of Green Squared-certified products can directly contribute toward points or compliance in three major standards/rating systems: Green Globes for New Construction, NAHB National Green Building Standard and ASHRAE 189.1. The tile industry, in collaboration with several other flooring categories, is “working to establish similar references to Green Squared and other flooring industry programs in LEED and the International Green Construction Code.”
Green Squared certification was developed by TCNA to acknowledge products verified by an independent third party to be in conformance with ANSI A138.1. Products certified under Green Squared are allowed use of the Green Squared certified mark, an easily recognizable label that helps architects, designers and end users choose products that meet the industry’s range of sustainability criteria.
Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), which evaluated the first three certifications for products from Crossville, Interceramic and Metropolitan Ceramics by Ironrock, was among the first third-party certifiers accredited by TCNA to conduct evaluations under the standard.
Noah Chitty, technical services manager, Crossville, said Green Squared has allowed the tile industry to be part of the sustainability conversation in a way that was not possible before. “Since its inception, we’ve seen a major shift from single-attribute criteria to transparency and broader sustainability ideas.”
While discussions of potential revisions to LEED are ongoing, references to Green Squared in the International Green Construction Code were preliminarily approved in May, and the International Code Council’s final action on this decision will take place next month.
“Professionals are still waiting for the sustainability community to decide how multi-attribute systems will be recognized in LEED,” Chitty explained, “but they seem to appreciate that the standard has been developed.”
As Lori Kirk-Rolley, vice president, brand marketing, Dal-Tile, noted, since its introduction, Green Squared has made sustainable product selection easier than ever. “It’s more than just a labeling program; it represents North America’s consensus on what is required for a tile to be truly sustainable through measurable and verifiable criteria for products possessing a full range of social and ecological attributes. This means sustainable product specification is now easier, faster and more consistent across the industry.”
Daltile and American Olean were among the first brands to endorse the Green Squared program in 2012. All of the company’s U.S. facilities, as well as its Monterrey, Mexico, operations, were included in the third-party audit process, Kirk-Rolley noted, so architects and designers can be confident Dal-Tile products meet the standard’s requirements.
“This standard is helping us better assist our customers in the specification of tile products that meet both the sustainability and usability needs of the spaces they create,” she added. “The certification offers a clear definition of what the industry defines as a green product, thereby making it easier for our customers to identify environmentally friendly products for their flooring needs.
“It means when our customers choose a Dal-Tile product for their sustainable projects,” Kirk-Rolley added, “it isn’t just an easy decision; it’s one they can make with confidence.”
In 2013 Dal-Tile completed all the necessary process changes, and now 100% of its Daltile and American Olean branded products meet the Green Squared certification to the new ANSI Standard–A138.1 Sustainable Tile & Installation Materials.
Sean Cilona, marketing director, Florida Tile, said the domestic tile industry needed Green Squared in order to create an independent body that can substantiate environmental claims made by manufacturers. “It has been a great way for us to differentiate ourselves and our products from foreign competitors and give each of us another solid selling point when promoting ourselves to an increasingly environmentally conscious market.”
Regarding its progress, he noted, Green Squared is something that is still making its way through the marketplace and into the hands of the end user. “It has been a great step toward some of the third-party certifications that are part of the LEED v4 program.”
For Crossville, Green Squared means the company can focus more on an overall sustainability message instead of having to chase individual criteria. “It allows us to focus on a broader set of goals, which is good for us and our customers,” Chitty said.
Crossville adopted process-based standards in sustainability years before Green Squared, he explained, “and through third-party evaluations we certified our processes instead of products. Green Squared provided validation of this approach and broadened the concept to involve all aspects of the company, not just the production process.”
What the future holds
As Griese noted, the tile industry is historically rooted in stringent consensus standards and, therefore, is continuously pushing for improvement in the field of sustainability. “This means Green Squared will evolve over time to raise the bar for product sustainability—from manufacturing requirements, to materials and resources, to product use phase and end of life—all with a focus on the environment and society.”
With today’s focus on product transparency and a growing demand for facts to back up sustainability claims, it is possible that Green Squared will become even more prevalent. “It’s likely that industry-wide life cycle reporting initiatives and environmental product declarations (EPD) will be tied into the overall Green Squared message,” Griese concluded.