A few months ago, I was in Nashville, TN visiting a few active Creative Materials projects. One of my stops included a renovation of a forty-year-old building that catered to seniors in a retirement community. Toward the end of my meeting, the Director of Environment and Sustainability pulled me to the side and asked me about the role of VOCs and the negative long-term impacts that a tiled system would create. My response was simple –
“Tile comes from the earth and is formed in fire. There are no petroleum byproducts, formaldehyde, volatile organics, or toxic chemicals. It is hard to find a greener alternative.”
I went on to speak about the additional benefits of tile like the direct lifetime costs, commercial durability, ease of maintenance, and long-term sustainability. Although the project was not associated with LEED or other green initiatives, his concern was genuine and warranted, as the safety and well-being of his clients were his top priority.
Once I got back from my trip there were more calls and preliminary finish schedules that were introduced, but I am happy to report that they are currently in the process of installing a sleek and modern tile system for their brand new lobby and public spaces 😊.
I bring up this story to highlight a few things. Yes, tile made sense economically for this project and for many others like it. And yes, it made sense from a maintenance standpoint – no headaches or lengthy operations manuals to deal with. But what was most important for them was knowing that the health and well-being of their clients would not be compromised or affected. With that being said, let’s dive into these benefits by discussing what tile is, what comes out of it, and the health impacts of the overall system.
What makes up tile?
The three basic components are clay, feldspar, and sand. All naturally occurring elements that come from the ground.
Clay – Here in the United States most clay comes from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas.
Feldspar – This is the part of the tile that really holds the body together. In essence, it does most of the heavy lifting with regard to the structural integrity. Once in the kiln, this is the part of the tile that melts and bonds to the other ingredients giving it the makeup of the body.
Sand – Basically the same stuff you see on the beach or at the golf course.
For the most part, that’s it! The ingredients that go into the production of tile come from the ground. Drop some clay or feldspar on the factory floor – there’s no issue. Sweep it up and put it back into the material silos. The materials that go into tile are inert so there are no volatile organics emitted.
What’s not in it?
Petroleum – Most vinyl and carpet products start with a petroleum-based product
Micro-plastic fibers – Play a role in many flooring products
Formaldehyde – Fillers and resins in some engineered wood products
Volatile organics – Emitted from vinyl, carpet, and hardwood
Phthalates – Used in vinyl production and plastics
What does all that mean?
Tile does not add anything to your air or environment – meaning it doesn’t give off harmful VOCs. In addition, due to its composition – tile does not trap hair and pet dander. Its hypoallergenic qualities resist mold, germs, dust mites, and bacteria. Less chemical requirements for cleaning and maintenance translate to less indoor environmental impact.
Remember, tile has been around for thousands of years. Although the technology has seen amazing improvements over the past several decades, at its core, tile remains mostly unchanged.
Simply stated, tile is one of the healthiest choices for your building!
Thanks for reading my post, and as always, please feel free to share your ideas and comments with the QA&T Team.
Until next time…