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Tile is fired at very high temperatures, usually in excess of 2,000°F. At such high temperatures, any organics that might be present in clays or binders are completely burned away. As a result, the final product is inert and has no VOCs that can be emitted.

Due to its VOC-free nature, ceramic and porcelain tile products are exempt from all testing criteria specified by LEED® IEQ Credit 4.3 in all relevant 2009 Building Design and Construction (BD+C) and Interior Design and Construction (ID+C) Rating Systems. These exemptions were first introduced in the document addenda issued by USGBC in April, 2010. All addenda stated, "Mineral-based finished flooring products such as tile, masonry, terrazzo, and cut stone without integral organic-based coatings and sealants ... qualify for credit without any IAQ testing requirements." This language was permanently incorporated into the criteria of the rating systems when updated copies of the 2009 document were issued, beginning in 2011.

The current draft of the next edition of LEED®, version 2012, also exempts tile from all VOC testing criteria in EQ Credit: Low-Emitting Interiors. The relevant section, titled "Inherently non-emitting sources," reads as follows:

"Products that are inherently non-emitting sources of VOCs – specifically stone, ceramics . . . glass, concrete, clay brick . . . are considered fully compliant without any VOC emissions testing if they do not include integral organic-based surface coatings, binders, or sealants."

The LEED® 2012 draft is scheduled to undergo its fourth and final Public Review in May 2012, and the document will be balloted in its entirety later in the year. More than likely, tile will remain exempt from all VOC testing requirements when LEED® 2012 is released towards the close of the year.

Select tile as your hard surface floor covering, and rest assured that you will have a VOC-free floor eligible for contribution to these LEED® credits!