Terrazzo is the original sustainable flooring option, having been developed centuries ago by Venetian marble workers as a way to use waste chips from marble processing.
Using terrazzo can contribute to a building’s LEED rating, as it offers a variety of green attributes – from recycled content to innovative design. It combines extremely low maintenance with unparalleled durability, and will hold up to even the most stringent of cleaning regiments important for healthcare and educational facility construction. When evaluating options based on life-cycle costs and environmental impact, no other flooring solution compares.
Terrazzo contributes as many as five LEED points based on:
- Low VOC emissions in installation and maintenance
- Reclaimed and local materials
- Building reuse
Originating in 15th-century Italy, terrazzo flooring techniques descended directly from the mosaic artistry of ancient Rome. An early green building system, terrazzo evolved through the resourcefulness of Venetian marble workers as they discovered a creative reuse of discarded stone chips. Terrazzo techniques were introduced to the US in the 1880s by Italian craftsmen. In keeping with its original premise of resourcefulness and efficiency, terrazzo is still manufactured on the construction site. Marble, stone or glass aggregates, which can often be found locally, are embedded in a cement or epoxy base, filled in, and then polished to bring out its true beauty.
Most, if not all finished terrazzo can be manufactured to include recycled materials that assist with accumulating LEED Points on your construction project:
- Aggregates used in terrazzo are the most common sources of recycled content. Glass aggregate suppliers are currently providing post-consumer recycled glass for terrazzo, as are slab-marble and granite quarries that have supplies of post-industrial stone left from slab granite and marble processing. The newer plastic chips for terrazzo manufacturing may contain as much as twenty percent recycled plastic material.
- Aluminum divider strips may also incorporate recycled metal.
- If an underbed is utilized, the steel reinforcing will have recycled content.
- Cement used in cementitious terrazzo may also have recycled content.
Contact us to discuss your project and your desired level of LEED compliance. We can recommend materials and processes to help you reach your LEED goals.
VOC Off-Gassing and Indoor Air Quality
Both cement based and thin set epoxy terrazzo systems are comprised of zero VOC materials. Terrazzo exhibits little or no off-gassing over the life of the cured floor. The non-porous, easily-cleanable terrazzo finish does not support microbial growth, nor does it allow moisture to accumulate, thus helping to maintain a mold-free environment with improved indoor air quality.
The U.S. terrazzo industry consists of many manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors strategically located throughout the country. Terrazzo is manufactured on-site, minimizing post-commercial waste and transportation costs. By comparison, much of the marble and ceramic floor tile used in the United States is manufactured overseas and imported. Additionally, cement and sand used in cementitious terrazzo may be regionally sourced, and depending on the mix, aggregates may also have regional sources.