Eco-friendly tiles, limit the gray energy of materials

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Ecological tile, limit the gray energy of building materials

Following our article onresponsible eco-buildingHere is an article on a specific material for construction or renovation: ecological tile.

Tiling is the favorite flooring of the French with over 100 million m² already installed in the hexagon. The European market has factories that can produce more than 900 million square meters of tiles every year. This craze for ceramics is not without impact on the environment. Like any industry, the manufacture of tiles leads to pollution and enormous energy consumption. To deal with this problem, the main actors in the field are now reduce the impact of their production on the environment.

For this to work, it is still necessary for individuals to move towards these products more respectful of nature. If this green material has escaped your attention, here are some explanations.

Is traditional tile a polluting material?

Modern tile or porcelain stoneware, is a flooring that has often been presented as non-polluting because it is made from natural products. If the composition of the tiles is not aggressive for the environment, its manufacture is much more.
The tile industry can be dangerous for nature because of:

  • The pollution of the water necessary for the manufacture.
  • The creation of careers
  • The large amount of energy needed for cooking tiles.

This gray energy is a pernicious problem because the general public does not directly perceive the effects of tile production. TheInstitute for the Environmentally Responsible Design of Buildings (ICEB) estimates that the tiling station of a modern building produces 20kg equivalent CO2 per m². Brought back to the tile surface laid each year, the environmental impact is considerable.



For the inhabitant, the impact of tiling on health is more difficult to estimate. However, there is a risk associated with tile adhesives and joints that contain volatile organic compounds, the famous VOCs.

Ecological tile

Is there an ecological tile?

Rest assured, you now have the opportunity to orient yourself towards a ecological tile. Although this material has not yet become customary, its use is increasing every year because individuals are more concerned about the quality of their environment. There are various possibilities to limit the ecological impact of the tiling station of a construction or a renovation.

  • The eco-responsible certified materials. The most frequently encountered ecological tiles are identical to traditional tiles. On the other hand, its manufacture is more respectful of nature in many respects. The materials are sourced from verified sources and installed in unprotected areas. The enamel of this tile does not use toxic products such as lead, cadmium or antimony. Water and manufacturing waste are recycled to a large extent.
  • Le floor tile recycled. According to the ICEB, tiling has a average life of 50 years. Renovations thus constitute huge amounts of waste each year. The tile giants are now recovering the waste they recycle to make the new tiles. This coating is sometimes coupled with the practices mentioned above to further reduce the environmental impact.
  • Le composite tile. Composite mineral tile, or CMC, consists of 70% to 80% mineral and 20% to 30% synthetic. When this mineral comes from recycling and this synthetic is ecological, we get a tile very respectful of nature. This type of tile can also be equipped with an adhesive for easy installation on a clean and smooth floor.
  • Le glass recycled. Since mosaics and glass blocks are very popular in bathrooms and swimming pools, why not focus on recycling? Glass, which takes more than 1000 years to degrade in nature, is an infinitely recyclable material. There is glass tile made from recycled glass, which reduces the ecological footprint of a building.

What labels to guarantee the respect the environment ?

Ecological tiles are identical to classic tiles, in its colors, textures and formats. Since it can not be differentiated visually from traditional tiles, the public authorities have decided to put in place a regulatory arsenal to inform the consumer about the product he wants to buy: the Ecolabel.
Many manufacturers adhere for all or part of their range to this label which we do not talk about much, but which however exists since 1992. The Ecolabel imposes certain limitations on tile manufacturers:

  • The raw materials must come from verified sources, which are themselves respectful of nature.
  • Enamels must not contain any dangerous materials for nature, workers and inhabitants.
  • Manufacturing water and material extraction must be recycled to 90% minimum.
  • The manufacturing waste must be recycled up to 70% minimum.
  • The releases to the atmosphere pollutants (fluorine, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide) is also limited.

It is estimated that Ecolabel is currently 30% of the French market.

Some manufacturers go even further by obtaining certification ISO 14001. This independent label attests to the good ecological conduct of production, research and development and transport. An ISO 14001 company, for example, should focus on river transport instead of land.

Internationally, the most important and recognized indication in many countries is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certificate. The restrictions of this certificate are similar to those of the Ecolabel and extended to many areas of construction.

Ecolabelized carrage

Limit the ecological impact of tiling thanks to its ancillary materials

If you are determined to use ecological tiles, know that you can go further by paying the same attention to ancillary products. Ask your work partner to prioritize glues and joints also ecological. These products are readily available and can further reduce the gray energy of a building.

These materials also protect the health of the inhabitantsbecause they are devoid of VOCs. They do not do not pollute the air of the house on the long term. The vast majority of glue and sealant manufacturers offer eco-friendly alternatives in their ranges.

Is it more expensive to use an ecological tile?

It is for the moment slightly more expensive to use ecological tiles. This extra cost is not very important, it will be felt for those who want to move towards a tiled entry level. Quotes with mid-range or high-end tiles should not feel the increase implied by greener materials.



The brands Mapei, Marazzi, Refin and Mirage all offer products stamped Ecolabel. The French brand Novoceram is offering even more ecological tiles whose waste is recycled at 95% and water at 100%.

You can ask your questions about your project or the use of eco-materials on our forum house and works

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2 comments on "Ecological tiles, limit the gray energy of materials"

    1. It is m2 tiling so if you do tiling on the floor is equivalent to living m2 (obviously) but in a bathroom or kitchen where the walls can be tiled is more if we brings it back to the living space ... Example: a kitchen of 10 m2 habitable tiled to the floor and walls to 20 m2 tiled walls equivalent to 30 * 20 / 10 = 60 kg of CO2 per m2 habitable ...

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