The Tile Council of North America (TCNA) recently announced UL certification of the Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for tile mortars and tile grouts made in North America.

With this announcement, building design professionals have even more reason to "think tile" and "think North American" when building green. That's because virtually all green building standards and rating systems, including LEED v4, provide pathways for earning points and fulfilling criteria by using products with EPDs, and an EPD for North American-made ceramic tile, also certified by UL, has been available since 2014.

"With the grout and mortar EPDs now also completed and certified, architects, designers and building owners can inherently garner three times the credit from a single tile installation by specifying tile, mortar and grout made in North America on LEED and other green building projects," said Bill Griese, the director of standards development and sustainability initiatives for TCNA.

In addition to LEED, EPDs can be used to satisfy requirements in Green Globes, IgCC, ASHRAE 189.1 and ICC 700.

EPDs have become increasingly relied upon in green construction because they provide a comprehensive disclosure of the environmental impacts of a product. For example, the EPDs for North American-made tiles, mortars and grouts show the carbon footprint of each product type, plus how much they contribute to smog formation, ozone depletion, abiotic resource depletion, acidification, and eutrophication—the environmental impact categories of greatest interest and concern in green construction.

Together, the three EPDs provide an unprecedented amount of information about the environmental impact of a full tile installation, not just one component, when North American products are selected. "This is a level of transparency not possible with other materials or with products not made in North America," says Griese. "It's exactly what green building is all about, making informed choices."

Like the North American ceramic tile EPD, the mortar and grout EPDs are based principally on lifecycle assessments (LCAs) that address myriad aspects—from extraction of raw materials through end of life—to quantify environmental impacts in accordance with international standards and North America's most commonly referenced green building requirements.

The grout and mortar EPDs represent more than 2.25 billion kg of products produced annually in North America by the major North American manufacturers of tile mortars and tile grouts that provided the data used to produce the EPDs: Ardex, Bexel, Bostik, Crest, Custom Building Products, HB Fuller/TEC, Interceramic, Laticrete, MAPEI and Cemix/Texrite.

With the announcement of certification, TCNA reports also that these are the first generic EPDs for tile mortars and grouts available globally.

TCNA's executive director, Eric Astrachan, said, "The full environmental picture for a typical tile installation is now available. No other industry has been so forthcoming, with North American manufacturers in particular on the leading edge."

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