Green Interiors: Don’t Forget Tile

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Going Green? Don’t Forget About Tile

Whether you are an owner or builder, you have probably been inundated by information about the vast number of eco-friendly home products available today. Planning to repaint a room? You better consider the number of VOC’s in that can. Selecting plumbing fixtures for your new master bathroom? I hope that showerhead is classified as low-flow. These are all good tips to remember when building or remodeling.
With all of the “greenwashing” going on these days, some companies are spending more time and money promoting their sustainable products than actually implementing green practices. So who is telling the truth?

As a consumer, how do you differentiate between green products you aren’t that familiar with in the first place? First, look at your project scope and decide what areas can have both a low impact on the environment and your budget. There is a whole range of eco-friendly hard surfaces, such as floor tile and countertops, that are just as durable and cost effective as their non-sustainable alternatives.
Here are some things to be on the lookout for when shopping for hard finishes that look great and are good for the environment

Recycled Content. Eco-friendly tile generally boasts some form of recycled content. Expect to see terms like pre- or post-consumer content when reading the fine print

• Pre-Consumer Recycled Content. Pre-consumer waste refers to material leftover from the manufacturing process. For example, one green tile manufacturer, Fireclay Tile, was born out of the need of a neighboring gravel factory to dispose of their pre-consumer waste. They still use a clay body made from recycled gravel dust as a foundation for many of their tiles. As with all types of recycled content, the higher the percentage of pre-consumer waste, the better

• Post-Consumer Recycled Content. As you might expect, post-consumer refers to waste that has been diverted from a landfill after being used by the consumer. This includes soda cans, milk jugs, and old newspapers. Of course, these types of goods don’t end up in tiles, but recycled glass often does. Bedrock Industries, based in Seattle, manufacturers a line of glass tile and mosaics with 100% post-consumer recycled content. This includes recycled soda bottles and food jars, as well as old window panes. Other forms of post-consumer waste found in tiles include recycled stone, such as granite or quartz, as well as recycled porcelain derived from retired plumbing fixtures, such as old toilets. So which form of recycled content is best? Although both are a plus, look for high levels of post-consumer content, as it is considered to have the greatest positive impact on the environment.

ocal & Regional Materials. When selecting any interior finish or building material, local is always better. The closer the item is manufactured to the job site, the less time and energy is spent on freight and delivery. As a general rule, look for products made within a 500 mile radius of your project location. In Nashville, we are lucky to have multiple tile manufacturers nearby. Both StonePeak Ceramics and Crossville Tile have production facilities in Crossville, Tennessee, allowing us to easily select locally made tiles.   —By Renée Conde, NCIDQ, LEED AP
Editor’s Note: 
Renée Conde is a LEED accredited professional and is certified by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification. Beth Haley Design, an urban interior design firm, focuses on remodeling and revitalizing established homes, as well as creating stimulating, functional, sustainable spaces in new homes. E-mail your questions to her at or visit

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