Wall and floor ceramics – the tile – the symbol of one of the most iconic industries of made in Italy, are a highly responsible choice in environmental terms and should therefore be regarded as one of the most suitable green building materials.
Ceramic surfaces, consisting largely of sand that has undergone an intensive physical transformation in industrial kilns, can be turned back into sand at the end of their service life and recycled. Constant investment in improvements to the production cycle means that today the ceramics industry is able to re-use most of its production waste, employ residues from other production processes and recover 100% of waste water, generating a significant reduction in extraction of raw materials, fresh water savings and a clearly virtuous waste cycle. Furthermore, ceramic products have an average life cycle of 30-35 years, a very long time with respect to the costs, including environmental costs, involved in their production.
Ceramics in other words satisfies all the requirements to qualify as a sustainable material: the production process is energy efficient, with low pollutant emissions, and once laid the tiles release no toxic emissions, are long lasting and highly recyclable upon disposal. In addition, the versatility of porcelain stoneware makes innovative applications possible, for cleaner, energy efficient buildings: a ventilated ceramic wall, for example, provides effective thermal and acoustic insulation, perfect protection from atmospheric agents and an important reduction in humidity and condensation.
To identify the “greenest” ceramic products, the EPD environmental product declaration analyses and quantifies key information about production processes, while LEED-compliant declarations indicate that the product in question is creditworthy under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system. The LEED system promotes integrated, sustainable design for the whole building, at every stage in its life cycle, from project planning to construction and maintenance. Environmentally aware ceramics producers are members of the Green Building Council Italia, the body that promotes the LEED system in Italy.