In recent years the construction industry has begun to focus on the environmental impact of many construction materials. The evaluation of products in the “green movement” encompasses many elements, which must be weighed on a scale of relative importance. These elements include the longevity of the material, the composition, maintenance, recycled contents, embodied energy, and the “cradle-to-grave” environmental impact.
Aggregates used in terrazzo are the most common sources of recycled content. Several glass aggregate suppliers are currently providing post-consumer recycled glass to the marketplace. Several slab marble and granite quarries have supplies of post-industrial stone left from slab granite and marble processing. 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.
Composition and Embodied Energy
Terrazzo is composed of naturally occurring aggregates and processed cement binders. The binders constitute approximately 25 to 30 percent of the volume of the terrazzo floors; the remainder of the floor is composed of aggregates, pigments, and fillers. Initial life cycle assessments of embodied energy appear extremely favorable due to the longevity and low energy usage for maintenance.
VOC Off-Gassing and Indoor Air Quality
Cement based 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, cleanable terrazzo finish does not support microbial growth, nor allow moisture to accumulate, helping to maintain a mold-free environment with improved indoor air quality.
Terrazzo has long been valued for its life cycle characteristics: low maintenance, durability, and indoor air quality - with recycled content being an additional attractive feature. Terrazzo flooring can contribute to the achievement of project LEED certification goals. The project LEED Consultant will identify which credits are included in the project sustainability goals.
Why should you choose Terrazzo? Design flexibility, beautiful aesthetics, environmental friendliness, sanitation benefits, durability in high-traffic and high-stress settings, and low maintenance and life-cycle costs.