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What is Green Squared®?

Green Squared is North America's first sustainable product program written exclusively for tiles and tile installation materials. Green Squared involves the sustainable product standard ANSI A138.1 and 3rd party certification to that standard. As such, it is the industry's new go-to mechanism and clear benchmark for defining and acknowledging tile products which are truly sustainable.

What is the purpose of Green Squared?

With Green Squared, architects, specifiers, and consumers can choose products knowing that their sustainability needs are being met. It serves as the North American industry's unified and consistent interpretation of how to validate product sustainability. With the easily-recognizable Green Squared Certified mark, end users can rest assured that certified product meet the industry's broad range of sustainability criteria.

The Green Squared Standard

The standard on which Green Squared is based is ANSI A138.1 American National Standard Specifications for Sustainable Ceramic Tiles, Glass Tiles, and Tile Installation Materials. Like other ANSI standards, A138.1 is a voluntary standard written and approved by an ANSI Accredited Standards Committee (ASC A108) which represents a diverse range of stakeholders. The ASC A108 stakeholders include green building community leaders, tile consumers, manufacturers, distributors, installers, and several others.

Green Squared Certification

Green Squared certification was developed to acknowledge products which have been verified by an independent 3rd party to be in conformance with ANSI A138.1. Products certified under Green Squared are allowed use of the Green Squared Certified mark. This provides architects, designers, and end users with a simple, industry-recognized mechanism for identifying sustainable products.

What products are covered by Green Squared?

The Green Squared standard, ANSI A138.1, is applicable to most products which are used in tiling systems. This makes possible the specification and installation of systems of products which meet a common host of sustainability criteria. The following products are within the scope of the standard and are eligible for Green Squared certification if they conform to the ANSI A138.1 criteria:

  • Ceramic Tiles and Glass Tiles
    • Porcelain, Pressed Floor, Quarry, Mosaic, and Glazed Wall Tiles
    • Cast Glass, Fused Glass, and Low Temperature-Coated Glass Tiles
  • Dry Powder Installation Materials
    • Cement-Based Mortar and Grouts, etc.
  • Liquid and Paste Installation Materials
    • Mastic and Epoxy Adhesives, Epoxy Grouts, Pourable and Trowelable Membranes, Liquid Latex Additives, etc.
  • Panel Installation Materials
    • Backer Boards, Panel Underlayments, etc
  • Sheet Installation Materials
    • Crack Isolation Membranes, Rolled Sheet Underlayments, etc.

Global Applicability

Green Squared certification and the ANSI A138.1 standard were developed specifically to be applicable to products no matter where in the world they are produced. A North American program developed to meet the sustainability needs of the North American marketplace, Green Squared provides all producers, foreign and domestic, with a clear benchmark for designing sustainable products which can be accepted by North American green building programs.

What are the sustainability criteria for Green Squared?

The Green Squared standard, ANSI A138.1, takes a multi-attribute approach towards sustainability, establishing criteria which address both environmental and social issues. These criteria, which are specific to the tile industry, are relevant for products throughout their entire life cycle and are in accordance with the North American green building industry's practices, expectations, and leading initiatives. The criteria are spread across five sections:

  • General Environmental Characteristics (product characteristics)
  • Environmental Product Manufacturing (including raw material extraction)
  • End of Product Life Management
  • Progressive Corporate Governance (associated with the product)
  • Innovation

Some criteria within each of these sections are mandatory, and others are elective. To meet the standard, a product must meet all mandatory requirements and a certain number of elective requirements.


How is the Green Squared program managed?

The Green Squared program criteria and all associated logos are owned and managed by TCNA. It was developed in accordance with ISO Type 1 Environmental labeling and declaration requirements (ISO 14024). All certification work is performed by independent third party certification bodies. A manufacturer is free to choose any certification body to certify their product, but only certification bodies which are approved by TCNA are allowed to issue Green Squared certification. Currently, the participating certification bodies include:

  • Underwriter Laboratories (UL) Environment
  • NSF International
  • Scientific Certification Systems (SCS)

Each of these organizations is highly regarded in the North American architectural marketplace and has operations worldwide. Other certification bodies wishing to participate in the program must apply to TCNA. In order for a certification body to be an approved Green Squared certifier, it must operate pursuant to ISO/IEC Guide 65 and meet other criteria which are defined in TCNA's license agreement for certification bodies.

With Green Squared structured the way it is, the industry is provided with a single, well managed and widely acknowledged program under which a variety of certification bodies can operate in accordance with the same rules and interpretation strategies for determining conformance to ANSI A138.1.

How does Green Squared certification work?

A manufacturer seeking to use the Green Squared Certified mark on their product applies directly to a certification body which is approved under the Green Squared program. The certification body then makes necessary arrangements with the manufacturer to evaluate whether or not the product meets the ANSI A138.1 standard. This evaluation, which is in accordance with the Green Squared Certification Program Criteria, includes a comprehensive and objective review of the product and its associated organization and manufacturing facility. Based on this evaluation, if the certification body decides to certify that the product meets ANSI A138.1, the certification body authorizes the use of the Green Squared Certified mark.

The Green Squared Certified mark

Only products which have been verified by an authorized certification body to be in conformance with ANSI A138.1 are allowed to use the Green Squared Certified mark. The mark is used directly on certified products, on product packing or cartons belonging to certified products, or on promotional literature published about a certified product. The mark can only be used in conjunction with certified products, not other non-certified products even if produced by the same manufacturer, and can only be used within a products valid certification time period.

A manufacturer can choose to use either a color or plain black version of the Green Squared Certified mark. Additionally, the manufacturer may choose to include with the mark an identification of the independent certification body which performed the certification.

What are the benefits of Green Squared?

  • Green Squared incorporates a full complex range of sustainability issues into one industry standard and one industry mark. This allows for easy marketplace recognition of tiles and tile installation materials which are the most sustainable.
  • The existence of Green Squared facilitates the technical specification of sustainable tiles and installation materials.
  • As the tile industry's very own sustainable product certification program, Green Squared enables an increased level of consistency in green marketing.
  • Green Squared certification provides a smooth, clear, and responsible opportunity for having a product included in a green building project. Additionally, there is a high level of credibility associated with products which are Green Squared certified as they have undergone true third party evaluation by reputable certification bodies.

How is Green Squared related to LEED?

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a certification program and suite of rating systems for sustainable buildings developed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC). As LEED evolves, the USGBC is turning to building product industries for reference standards and certifications such as Green Squared. These standards and certifications provide clear guidance as to which products are truly sustainable, and if adopted by USGBC to develop new compliance avenues within building material selection credits can result in LEED certified buildings which are even more sustainable.

In 2011, Pilot Credit 43 was established, and points were awarded for the use of products which were certified under industry sustainability programs. Most programs recognized were very similar to Green Squared. Pilot Credit 43 was retired in March 2012 as the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) began efforts to establish a new Pilot Credit, 52, in which additional sustainable product programs could be explored. Currently, several flooring industries are working with USGBC in an effort to have their respective certification programs referenced. It is possible that in the not so distant future Green Squared Certified products will earn points under Pilot Credit 52 and in future versions of the LEED Rating System.

How is Green Squared related to NAHB's National Green Building Standard?

In 2007, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the International Code Council (ICC) partnered to establish a much-needed and nationally-recognizable standard definition of residential green building. The resulting ICC 700 National Green Building Standard™ is the first and only residential green building rating system to undergo the full consensus process and receive approval from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

The National Green Building Standard is currently undergoing a major revision, and it is expected to be released by the end of 2012. In the current draft revision, points are awarded for the use of Green Squared Certified products.

Green Squared and sustainable procurement programs

For government building projects the General Services Administration (GSA) now requires that its employees comply with the GSA Green Purchasing Plan (GPP) when selecting building products. GSA employees rely on industry sustainability standards for direction on which products to choose. Many of these standards, including ANSI A138.1/Green Squared, are referenced in the GSA's Performance Based P100 Program – Facilities Standards for the Public Buildings Service.

Additionally, the Section 13 Workgroup on Product Standards and Ecolabels, co-chaired by the GSA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is currently developing a report with product selection guidelines based on existing environmental sustainability standards and ecolabeling programs such as Green Squared.