One-on-One…with Ashley Katz
January 2nd, 2009

The Blending of Color Philosophies

“Becoming a LEED AP is a valuable and marketable credential.”

First Quarter, 2009

By Jeffrey Steele

Environmental sustainability seems to take stronger hold on the American public consciousness with every passing day. Tile dealers and installers can be a part of this green movement by learning more about the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building certification system and its LEED Accredited Professional (AP) program, which can help build eligibility for projects on which owners are mandating the participation of a LEED Accredited Professional.

To help readers gain critical insights into the USGBC and LEED certification, we invited USGBC communications manager Ashley Katz to sit down for a TileDealer One-on-One interview. In the informative exchange that follows, Ms. Katz discusses how tile dealers and installers can gain LEED credits, the benefits of Accredited Professional status, and how today’s challenging economy is affecting the green building movement.

TileDealer: What is the USGBC and why was it founded?

Katz: The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a non-profit organization composed of leaders from across the building industry working to advance buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work.

The USGBC was founded in 1993 to bring together professionals from every sector in the industry and to create a common definition for green building. Today, USGBC has more than 17,800 member companies and has also developed the voluntary consensus-based LEED green building certification system, which is driving the transformation of the market to sustainability.

TileDealer: What is LEED?

Katz: LEED is a third party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings, which are more environmentally responsible, healthier, and more profitable structures. LEED addresses a variety of buildings and building project types through individualized systems. They include new construction, existing buildings, commercial interiors, core and shell, homes and neighborhood development.

TileDealer: How can tile dealers and installers become knowledgeable about LEED?

Katz: The first way to learn more about LEED is to attend one of the hundreds of workshops, online courses and webinars offered throughout the country on LEED and green building.

These workshops should help tile dealers and installers increase their knowledge, expand their practice, and maximize their success in the green building industry. You can find a listing of all available workshops online at

TileDealer: What’s the easiest way to get LEED credits in terms of tile?

Katz: There are two credits in the Materials and Resources category of the rating system specific to recycled content. In the first credit, you can earn one point for using Recycled Content: 10 percent (post-consumer plus 1/2 pre-consumer). If you use 20 percent recycled content, you earn an additional point. Here are the specifics:

Use materials with recycled content such that the sum of post-consumer recycled content plus one-half of the pre-consumer content constitutes at least 10 percent (based on cost) of the total value of materials in the project. The recycled content value of a material assembly shall be determined by weight. The recycled fraction of the assembly is then multiplied by the cost of assembly to determine the recycled content value.

Recycled content shall be defined in accordance with the International Organization of Standards document, ISO 14021—Environmental labels and declarations—Self-declared environmental claims

(Type II environmental labeling).

TileDealer: What’s the best way for tile dealers and installers to market LEED capability to architects, specifiers, and others?

Katz: Tile dealers and installers may want to become LEED APs, or LEED Accredited Professionals. Like any other program, you are required to have knowledge in the building industry and then must pass an exam to demonstrate your knowledge.

There are many benefits. Becoming a LEED AP distinguishes individuals with detailed knowledge of LEED project certification requirements and processes and a command of integrated design principles. For professionals, becoming a LEED AP is a valuable and marketable credential for employers, prospective employers, or clients.

APs are eligible for projects on which owners are mandating the participation of a LEED Accredited Professional. LEED APs also receive recognition for involvement in LEED projects, including a listing on the USGBC website directory of LEED APs and a certificate. For the building industry, becoming an AP encourages and promotes higher understanding of LEED and supports USGBC’s mission of transforming the built environment.

TileDealer: Where does the USGBC want to be in 5 years? In 10 years?

Katz:We hope that we’ll be continuing to move the market forward, as there is still much to be done. Our goal is that by 2010, there will be 100,000 LEED certified commercial buildings and one million certified homes. By 2020, there will be one million LEED certified commercial buildings and ten million certified homes. But really, our goal for green building is that the phrase disappears, because all buildings will be green.

TileDealer: The USGBC is currently strong in commercial, municipal and educational buildings. Is residential its next goal?

Katz: We actually have a residential component to the LEED certification system called LEED for Homes, a voluntary rating system that promotes the design and construction of high performance “green” homes. A green home uses less energy, water and natural resources; creates less waste; and is healthier and more comfortable for the occupants. USGBC began the pilot test of LEED for Homes in August 2005, and launched the certification system in December 2007. Currently, there are more than 1,151 LEED certified homes and 13,747 registered homes as part of the program.

TileDealer: How is the current economy impacting green building?

Katz: Green building is even more important in the current economic crisis. To meet the challenge, USGBC is turning its focus to greening our existing buildings—homes, schools, and offices. Focusing on existing buildings will create new green jobs that save money and energy, all while addressing our single greatest opportunity to help solve the climate change equation. The McKinsey Report on reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions makes the business case clearly: Greening our existing buildings will make money, and will meet 85 percent of our new energy demand through 2030.

TileDealer: Is the USGBC getting a boost from the current emphasis on energy savings?

Katz: The current emphasis on energy savings has certainly helped increase awareness and spread the message about the importance of green building. It all comes back to the fact that buildings are an incredible source of solutions for some of the biggest challenges facing our society today. The footprint of the built environment is absolutely enormous: Nearly 40 percent of U.S. CO2 emissions (more than cars), 12.2 percent of potable water usage, and 14.7 percent of the $10 trillion U.S. GDP. Moreover, we spend 90 percent of our time indoors, which means buildings have a significant—although little researched—impact on our health and well-being.


Ashley Katz, communications manager

U.S. Green Building Council, Washington, D.C.


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