In this highly competitive marketplace, an installer’s reputation is ‘King’, a few jobs that go south can quickly ruin a seasoned installer’s years of hard work. That is why you will find such fierce loyalty on the part of installers to a particular product and/or brand. Finding an installation product that for years has a proven track record on a variety of projects from institutional to commercial to the residential means a happy customer, money in the bank and a good reputation.
Product manufacturers understand that to get an installer to try and switch to a new product, it must perform consistently, improve the quality of the installation and ultimately improve the bottom line-more money in the installer’s pocket. And as an installer, how many times have you tried a new installation product, only to set it to the side and root around in your truck looking for that patching compound or VCT adhesive that you know will do the job without a failure and subsequent customer call back.
To this point, the introduction of ‘Sustainable Chemistry’ added another layer to installation products. This was a huge leap to begin to move away from solvent-based adhesives to water-based, not to mention a learning curve for installers in the field to adjust to these new adhesives. Since the 1980’s, MAPEI recognized the importance of ‘sustainable chemistry’ with the introduction of the Ultrabond ECO line of adhesives to dramatically reduce or eliminate VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). As the flooring industry began to recognize the importance of low VOC adhesives, along with other sustainable practices, such as, reducing, reusing and recycling natural resources, in 1993, USGBC (United States Green Building Council) was born. USGBC’s goal was to step back and look at the entire building design, construction, and operation from a sustainability standpoint.
That is why the ‘design phase’ of a project is key to promote ‘project ownership’ of the entire installation system. Many ’sustainable programs’ are beginning to include the installer/contractor in the design phase-recognizing that product application and installation methods are just as important as product selection. After all it is the installer that ensures that all of the design decisions made at the table are adhered to during the installation-bringing the design and built world together. No matter what type of project that is being specified, the following key areas should be addressed to ensure a project that will last its entire life cycle, while promoting a healthier environment for the occupants.
Construction installation products must balance ‘Performance’ with ‘Sustainability’:
- Product Data Sheet: a products’ performance criteria (ANSI, ASTM, ISO, ICC-ES, IAPMO, DOT) based on test data and standards -features, benefits, limitations and application requirements
- Product Regulatory Compliance: communicated in the SDS (Safety Data Sheet) related to Federal and State requirements, including labeling and transportation
- EPD (Environmental Product Declaration): a concise environmental product performance report based on Life-Cycle Analysis (LCA) to demonstrate the environmental impacts of a product from extraction of raw materials and processing to distribution, use and end of life.
- Green Squared Certification is based on the ANSI A138.1 consensus Standard (third-party certified) which covers tile product characteristics, manufacturing, end of product life management, progressive corporate governance and innovation to establish sustainability criteria for products throughout their entire lifecycle from substrate to the finished tile surface.
- HPD (Health Product Declaration), Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Manufacturer’s Inventory: All of these programs focus on disclosure of the product’s ingredients -both ‘intentional’ and ‘residual’ in a range from 1000ppm down to 100ppm
- LBC (Living Building Challenge) ‘Red List Free’ (ILFI): Although this program is part of LBC, a specifier will often refer to the ‘red list’ to ensure that certain chemicals are not in the products they are specifying -ie: isocyanates, phthalate plasticizers
- VOC Content: per SCAQMD (South Coast Air Quality Management District, Rule #1168 for adhesives and sealants or Rule #1113 for architectural coatings): It is a product’s ‘Potential’ to release VOCs into the occupied space given the right environmental conditions.
- VOC emission: per California Department of Health; Section 01350: It is a ‘Real World’ application, using a chamber test that simulates the conditions in an occupied building and quantifies both the VOCs and chemicals emitted into the air.