Sustainability & Innovation

Now more than ever it is important to understand the impact of the choices we make. While much of the marketplace still views sustainability as a trend that will pass or fade, Eco Spec understands that we are at the beginning of permanent shift towards lower impact products and practices.

Sustainability & InnovationAs a builder/developer, general contractor, architect and or design professional, you are increasingly confronted with a barrage of green product claims. How do you decide which are meaningful and relevant and which are unsubstantiated “green washing”? To better support you, we have teamed up with a professional green building consultant to offer you clear, accurate information about how select Eco Spec Products assist in lowering the environmental impact of your project. Through what’s known as a LEED Impact Analysis. Our LEED AP consultant thoroughly evaluates manufacturer’s self-declared environmental claims and assesses how they relate to LEED Rating Systems.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED as it is commonly known, is the official green building rating system of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). It is a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality, as well as innovation in design and incorporation of new technologies.

Use these tabs to find out how EcoSpec Tile Products can contribute to environmental performance in these impact categories.


Sustainable Site DevelopmentBy reducing the amount of heat absorbed by the building roof and landscape elements of your project site, light-colored Eco Spec products can assist in lowering the energy required to cool your building.

In what’s known as the Heat Island Effect, dark colored paving and roofing materials create artificial microclimates with temperatures 2-10 degrees than would normally be found on undeveloped sites. This equates to a requirement for increased use of air conditioning inside the building, and as a result, larger HVAC systems, increased electricity use subsequently increased greenhouse gas emissions and pollution.

By specifying light colored tile products for outdoor walkways, patios, balconies, mezzanines and roof terraces you are helping mitigate the heat island effect, resulting in decreased mechanical cooling requirements, costs and pollutio.

To measure the Heat Island Effect, LEED uses a combination of emissivity and reflectivity to determine a material’s Solar Reflectance Index (SRI). Emissivity is the ratio of the radiation emitted by a surface to the radiation emitted by a black body at the same temperature. Reflectivity is the measure of a surface material’s ability to reflect sunlight. SRI measures a material’s ability to reflect solar heat.

Click here for technical details on which Eco Spec products qualify for contribution to LEED Sustainable Sites credits and how to calculate their specific contribution to these credits for your project.


Materials SelectionBy choosing to incorporate Eco Spec materials with recycled content into your project, you are reducing the environmental and social impacts resulting from extraction and processing of raw materials.

Eco Spec products contain two types of recycled content: post-industrial, also known as pre-consumer, and post-consumer. Post-industrial content is reclaimed during the manufacturing process and consists of scrap and particulate matter that is diverted from the waste stream and reintroduced into the material fabrication process. Post-consumer recycled content consists of materials reclaimed after they have been used by households or commercial, industrial and or institutional facilities for their original intended purpose. The USGBC places a higher value on post-consumer recycled content than post-industrial content.

Select EcoSpec products may also be extracted, harvested, recovered and manufactured within 500 miles of your project site. By specifying building materials from within your project’s region, you are supporting the use of indigenous resources and reducing the environmental impacts resulting from transportation.

See the technical data section for details on qualifying Eco Spec product contributions to LEED Materials and Resources credits and how they are calculated.


Indoor Environmental QualityAccording to the EPA, Americans spend an average of 90% of their time indoors, so the quality of the indoor environment has a significant influence on their well-being, productivity and quality of life. The EPA also reports that indoor pollutant levels may run 2-5, and occasionally 100 times higher than outdoor levels. Recent increases in building-related illnesses and “sick building syndrome and an increasing number of related legal cases have heightened awareness of indoor air quality among building owners and occupants. (EPA)

A practical way to prevent indoor environmental quality issues is to specify materials that release fewer and less harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOC’s are, most simply, chemical fumes. The health effects of exposure to VOCs vary greatly by the type of chemical and the concentration. Exposure to high levels of VOCs, especially those that are neurotoxin, can cause nausea; headache; tremors or seizures; difficulty breathing; and even death.

When specifying Eco Spec tile products for your project’s flooring, countertops, walls and ceilings, you are choosing materials that emit ZERO VOC’s. Refer to the technical data section for details on qualifying Eco Spec product contributions to LEED Indoor Environmental Quality credits and how they are calculated.

*An important note: Though tile itself does not pose air quality risks, it is crucial to remember that conventional grouts and adhesives can contain harmful VOC’s and unless you specify low and zero VOC products to adhere and install your tile products, you may be putting building occupants at risk!


Waste DiversionEco Spec is home to brands that are pursuing innovative ways to reduce the impact of the built environment. More and more developers, designers and builders are coming to recognize the importance of reusing and remodeling our existing building stock instead of engaging in the energy intensive and environmentally damaging practice of demolition. While historic buildings sometimes have finish elements of timeless beauty well worth restoring and preserving, many buildings contain finishes or exterior cladding that are low quality, unattractive and of no historical value.

Because of their durability, versatility, tile products offer solutions for interior and exterior refinishing that can bring a clean and modern aesthetic to older building stock. Oftentimes during remodels and renovations, old unwanted finishes and cladding will be torn off and either sent to the landfill, or when possible salvaged or recycled.

Several Eco Spec product lines offer innovative solutions for refinishing and re-cladding that can be installed over top of existing materials. This diverts debris from landfills, reduces the labor associated with salvaging and mitigates greenhouse gas impacts associated with recycling and waste hauling. Please see our ‘Sustainable & Innovative’ section for offerings that include; the Cygnus panel system, Renaissance stone veneer and Kerlite porcelain veneer tile.

LEED Credit Contributions

LEED Credit ContributionsCurrently Eco Spec offers 2nd party validated information on how our Environments tile products contribute to points contained in the LEED 2009 Rating Systems though the Green it Group LEED credit Category Analysis™ . It is our intention to eventually offer this information for every product line we carry. Click below for more details on LEED Rating Systems the LEED CCA covers.

The LEED for New Construction Rating System is designed to guide and distinguish high-performance commercial and institutional projects, including office buildings, high-rise residential buildings, government buildings, recreational facilities, manufacturing plants and laboratories. (http://www.usgbc.org/)

LEED for Commercial Interiors is the green benchmark for the tenant improvement market. It is the recognized system for certifying high-performance green interiors that are healthy, productive places to work; are less costly to operate and maintain; and have a reduced environmental footprint. LEED for Commercial Interiors gives the power to make sustainable choices to tenants and designers, who do not always have control over whole building operations. (http://www.usgbc.org/)

The LEED for Existing Buildings Rating System helps building owners and operator’s measure operations, improvements and maintenance on a consistent scale, with the goal of maximizing operational efficiency while minimizing environmental impacts. LEED for Existing Buildings addresses whole-building cleaning and maintenance issues (including chemical use), recycling programs, exterior maintenance programs, and systems upgrades. It can be applied both to existing buildings seeking LEED certification for the first time and to projects previously certified under LEED for New Construction, Schools, or Core & Shell. (http://www.usgbc.org/)

The LEED for Schools Rating System recognizes the unique nature of the design and construction of K-12 schools. Based on the LEED for New Construction rating system, it addresses issues such as classroom acoustics, master planning, mold prevention and environmental site assessment.
By addressing the uniqueness of school spaces and children’s health issues, LEED for Schools provides a unique, comprehensive tool for schools that wish to build green, with measurable results. ‘LEED for Schools’ is the recognized as the third-party standard for high-performance schools that are healthy for students, comfortable for teachers, and cost-effective. (http://www.usgbc.org/)

LEED for Core & Shell is a green building rating system for designers, builders, developers and new building owners who want to address sustainable design for new core and shell construction. Core and shell covers base building elements such as structure, envelope and the HVAC system. LEED for Core & Shell is designed to be complementary to the LEED for Commercial Interiors rating system, as both rating systems establish green building criteria for developers, owners and tenants. (http://www.usgbc.org/)

 
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