Ceramic tiles with Ecolabel are even greener
By definition, ceramics benefit from a very positive ecological image as a construction material. If we were to exemplify that with an opposite, we could say that they are very far from plastics.
The word ceramic comes from the Greek keramikos and keramon which mean clay. If you look it up in the Science Dictionary, ceramics are said to be “any of various, hard, brittle, heat and corrosion resistant materials made typically of metallic elements combined with oxygen or with carbon, nitrogen or sulphur”. And Wikipedia will tell you that they are “prepared by the action of heat and subsequent cooling”. But we especially like this one, coming from the “Grand dictionnaire terminologique de la langue française”, which basically says: “The making of ceramics is an art”. It goes on to say: “Ceramics are the result of transformations and incomplete reactions and that art consists in being able to stop that process at the most opportune moment”.
Since its components come from Mother Earth, why talk about “ecological ceramics”? Simply because you may want to minimize your ecological footprint and it is possible to find ceramic tiles produced in accordance with ethical and ecological principles.
Take for example the Ecolabel certification. Established in 1992 by the European Union, it guarantees that environmental safeguards are in place as far as the production of consumer goods is concerned. In turn, you as a consumer have the assurance that you are purchasing eco-compatible products. This certification is based on criteria where the environmental impact of a product is taken into consideration as a whole, from the raw materials extraction required to its production to its final disposal.
What are those criteria? On top of the list is the reduction of the environmental impact in the extraction phase of raw materials, followed by the saving of energy and the recycling of water during the production process and the reduction of the release of polluting agents into the atmosphere. One of the goals of the Ecolabel program is to create products with a low release of polluting agents which are dangerous to mankind (for example lead and cadmium). Another one is to inform consumers by means of the packaging that they are buying a product that is compliant with Ecolabel certification standards, including as well suggestions and warnings for the use, maintenance and installation of the product.
Fancy. But how does that translate in practical terms? Take for example Ceramiche Refin from Italy. They offer collections like their Eco-Leader and Stone-Leader in LEED version. These and others with the Ecolabel are manufactured with an innovative ceramic mix. It combines pre-consumer recycled ceramic material deriving from external production processes and post-consumer recycled glass that come from obsolete cathode ray tube TV sets and computer monitors. Quite interesting to know that all these old tubes can have a second life right under our eyes and under… our feet! Not only that, it also means this specific process allows these tiles to meet the standards for eco-sustainable criteria of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. Using these tiles would thus contribute to the allocation of the maximum possible rating credits in the “Materials and Resources” category of LEED.
Just a quick reminder here: LEED is not a product certification but a building rating system verified by independent bodies and authorities. It evaluates the environmental, social and economic sustainability of buildings, from the planning phase to their everyday use. Ceramic tiles, being a building material, can contribute to LEED points.
Investing in the future
Ecological products are becoming an important part of an environmentally responsible choice for many. Even more so, if their costs compared to other products are competitive, why not go for the “green” ones, especially when quality and availability are not issues? “Not only that, but you will find Ecolabel tiles at very affordable prices”, says Mathieu Bourduas, Manager of purchasing at La Tuilerie. “Point in case is the economical Dock’s Series, but you can also find top of the line tiles like Eco-Leader which are more expensive”, adds Mathieu.
As for wood floor coverings, those that carry the FSC label don’t cost more than others. “The only difference is that you will not find as many species in that category”, says Mathieu. Now, if you’re thinking about using wood floors for your home project, remember that those that are pre varnished have a big advantage: you will not be faced with a sanding and varnishing job on site. That should be an environmental plus in itself…
On a final note, a home renovation or new construction project will always benefit from using quality products. It is a better ecological choice since such products are longer lasting. The difference will translate in a better, long term investment. That is a good example of what “Quality pays” means.