Green Squared Certified® Sustainable Tiles and Tile Installation Materials Qualify for New LEED Credit
August 31st, 2016

Green Squared Certified® Sustainable Tiles and Tile Installation Materials Qualify for New LEED Credit


August 26, 2016

Building design professionals, facility managers and others seeking LEED building certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) can now look to certified sustainable ceramic tiles, glass tiles, and tile installation materials to earn the needed credits. To contribute, tiles and related installation materials on a project (mortars, grouts, etc.) must meet the extensive environmental and social responsibility requirements of Green Squared, the ceramic tile industry’s multi-attribute, cradle-to-grave sustainability standard.

Specifically, Green Squared Certified products now qualify to contribute toward a new LEED Pilot Credit offered for using “Certified Multi-attribute Products and Materials.” The credit requires that certification details, including which Green Squared electives were satisfied, are disclosed, and that a product lifecycle assessment (LCA) has been conducted.

The intent of the newly-available credit is “to encourage the use of products and materials for which life-cycle information is available and that have environmentally, economically, and socially preferable life-cycle impacts,” according to USGBC.

To garner a LEED point under this credit, at least 25% by cost of the permanently installed building products on a project must meet a USGBC-approved product sustainability standard, like Green Squared, and have third-party validation to prove it. For Green Squared Certified products, that validation comes from a thorough assessment and certification from any of three international sustainability leaders: UL Environment, NSF International, and SCS Global.

“USGBC included Green Squared as an approved multi-attribute sustainability standard because the criteria are rigorous and fully in-line with the intent of the new credit,” says Bill Griese, the Director of Standards Development and Sustainability Initiatives for Tile Council of North America (TCNA). “It’s not easy to get on that list. The Committee looks at each standard closely to make sure products that meet them are truly sustainable. The credibility of the LEED program relies on that being a rigorous review and approval process.”

In other words, by scrutinizing sustainability standards and recognizing only those that truly identify sustainable products, this LEED pilot credit makes it easier to build green by providing the criteria from which a specifier can choose products.

“When you see the Green Squared Certified logo you know the product manufacturer has invested in sustainable production,” says Griese. “USGBC recognition underscores that and helps those looking for LEED certification through use of sustainable materials.”

The new pilot credit is available immediately for registration on current LEED v3 and v4 projects and will continue to be available when USGBC transitions exclusively to LEED v4 in October 2016. How much a Green Squared Certified product contributes toward earning this pilot credit depends on the amount of recycled content, closed loop manufacturing waste reclamation, and/or regional raw materials used to produce the product.

Griese, who worked with USGBC and other sustainability experts on the new pilot credit further added: “The release of this new Pilot Credit establishes an important precedent for the specification of certified multi-attribute sustainable products for the years ahead. It affords architects and designers the flexibility to select product types based on design preferences and cost, and then to optimize based on sustainability within each relevant selection.”

The new pilot credit was posted to the LEED Pilot Credit Library August 15, and the full text is available at

About Green Squared

Green Squared (ANSI A138.1) is the North American ceramic tile industry’s multi-attribute sustainability standard and certification program for sustainable products, with conformance requirements addressing the environmental and social impacts of tiles and tile installation materials. Products that are third party certified as meeting ANSI A138.1 by an approved Green Squared certification body may bear the Green Squared Certified mark.  For more information, visit

About TCNA

TCNA is a trade association representing manufacturers of ceramic tile, tile installation materials, tile equipment, raw materials, and other tile-related products. Established in 1945 as the Tile Council of America (TCA), it became TCNA in 2003, reflecting its membership expansion to all of North America.

The Tile Council is recognized for its leadership role in facilitating the development of North American and international industry quality standards to benefit tile consumers. Additionally, TCNA regularly conducts independent research and product testing, works with regulatory, trade, and other government agencies, offers professional training, and publishes industry-consensus guidelines and standards, economic reports, and promotional literature.



Roxanne Shiflet

(734) 735-1891


ARIZONA TILE Press Release: Unique Shapes in Tile
July 7th, 2016

When working on a renovation or construction project, clients are often searching for ways to set their space apart. The majority of home, or commercial project owners are striving to create a space that is not only on trend, but that also incorporates a piece of their own style into the design and will remain stylish for many years. One way to achieve these expectations is by incorporating unique tile shapes into the design.

Arizona Tile now offers several products with a unique shape! To view the shapes and read the whole Press Release, click here.

3 Keys to Strong Business Financials
July 6th, 2016

CTDA Wants You To Know



3 Keys to Strong Business Financials

Businesses fail for many reasons — dysfunctional management, insufficient working capital, insurmountable competition. Why they succeed, on the other hand, is often easily explained. Regardless of size and sector, most healthy companies share the following three characteristics when it comes to their financials: 1. Ample revenue You’ve no doubt heard it before, but this cliché is true: Cash is king. Without a robust revenue stream coming in, profitability will be precarious. To determine how much revenue your company needs to be profitable, perform a profitability breakeven analysis. Then review your sales and determine where you can make changes. For example, you may need to invest more in R&D or focus more on prospective customers. 2. Well-managed labor and production costs For most companies, labor is their biggest production cost — particularly when benefits and taxes are factored into the equation. Determine whether your labor force increases the value of products or services enough to offset its high cost. If not, consider solutions such as:

  • Providing more training or better incentives,
  • Improving production processes, or
  • Investing in more modern facilities.

When production overhead costs are too high relative to a product’s sales price, take action. You might increase the price of the product, find better production methods or even discontinue the product. 3. Lean operations Operating expenses — costs you incur to run your business that aren’t directly attributable to production — must be minimized. For example, compensation takes a big bite out of your operations budget, so monitor staffing needs relative to sales and adjust them if necessary. And while you can’t eliminate marketing expenditures, you can review your sales levels relative to them and ensure you’re getting bang for your buck. Establish a foundation If you’re trying to build the foundation for a healthy, long-lived business, focus on these three keys.


Today’s asset purchase could turn into tomorrow’s tax break
June 28th, 2016

CTDA Wants You To Know



Today’s asset purchase could turn into tomorrow’s tax break

Shopping, anyone? If your business is in need of office equipment, computer software or perhaps an HVAC system, the purchase you make today could provide you with a tax break tomorrow — or, more specifically, when you’re ready to file your 2016 taxes. The Section 179 expensing deduction remains a solid potential tax-saving value for today’s companies. Expensing your buys Sec. 179 of the Internal Revenue Code allows businesses to elect to immediately deduct — or “expense” — the cost of certain tangible personal property acquired and placed in service during the tax year. This is instead of claiming the costs more slowly through depreciation deductions. The election can only offset net income, however. It can’t reduce it below $0 to create a net operating loss.

The election is also subject to annual dollar limits. For 2016, businesses can expense up to $500,000 in qualified new or used assets, subject to a dollar-for-dollar phaseout once the cost of all qualifying property placed in service during the tax year exceeds $2 million. Improving real property, too The expensing limit and phaseout amounts would have been far lower had Congress not passed the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act in late 2015. The new law made the limits permanent, indexing them for inflation beginning this year. It also makes permanent the ability to apply Sec. 179 expensing to qualified real property, such as eligible leasehold-improvement, restaurant and retail-improvement property.

Finally, the new law permanently includes off-the-shelf computer software on the list of qualified property. And, beginning in 2016, it adds air conditioning and heating units to the list. Considering all options You can use Sec. 179 expensing for both new and used property. A related tax break, bonus depreciation, applies only to new property. Be sure to consider all options when purchasing assets.


Business Owners: Put your successor to work before you set sail
June 21st, 2016

CTDA Wants You To Know



Business owners: Put your successor to work before you set sail

A hastily chosen or ill-prepared successor can lead a company astray or, in worst cases, mismanage it into bankruptcy. Before you set sail into retirement or perhaps on to your next great professional adventure, make absolutely sure that your chosen replacement is ready to, well, succeed. Build stakeholder confidence Perhaps the simplest, most important thing you can do is to put your successor to work. Co-owners, board members and employees are more apt to follow a replacement’s lead if they feel confident in his or her knowledge and skills. And the only way to truly build that confidence is to allow these stakeholders to experience your successor’s leadership style and capabilities first-hand.

For instance, let your successor gain experience examining and discussing financial information for tax and financial reporting compliance and profitability analysis. In addition, allow him or her to spend time among your HR staff to learn about your hiring methods and benefits issues. Get hands dirty Don’t hesitate to let your heir apparent get his or her hands dirty. For example, if you’re a manufacturer, let him or her spend plenty of time down on the plant floor to see and participate in daily operations. Or, for other types of businesses, send your prospective replacement out on sales calls to face the challenges of meeting customer demands head-on.

While your successor gets acclimated, you may want to hire an interim manager. His or her objective industry and supervisory experience can be invaluable in training your next-in-line. But you must give the interim manager executive powers, including the ability to guide careers and make employment decisions. Create a comprehensive strategy Properly training and preparing your successor is immensely important if you want to truly leave your company in good hands. However, this is just one aspect of succession planning.


Cultivating your company’s strategic plan
June 6th, 2016


Cultivating your company’s strategic plan

Most companies start life as a business plan. Eventually, that plan should evolve into a formal strategic plan document that lays out key initiatives for the business over the next three to five years.

Unfortunately, even when said document is created, that seed planted in the ground often ends up largely ignored, untended and malnourished. So how can you make sure to cultivate your strategic plan so it grows with the company? Here are some ideas. Champion the process Your top managers must take the lead in collecting relevant facts, setting priorities, weighing competing alternatives and then making choices. And they need to be highly engaged in a process of debate and discussion before decisions are made.

When the focus is on the process, not just the output, it’s easier to make it an ongoing effort. That’s because managers develop a deeper understanding of and buy into the analysis and options that were considered in developing the strategic plan. They’ll also have a greater sense of ownership, and thus be much more willing to keep it up to date. Set the specifics Don’t view strategic planning as simply setting long-range goals. A good plan also includes:

  • Strategies (broad directions to achieve your goals),
  • Programs (shorter term actions required to implement the strategies),
  • Metrics (such as incremental market share improvement), and
  • Milestones (such as “opening a new store on the decided-upon date”).

In addition, accountability is key. Assign responsible individuals to oversee each strategy or program. And regularly assess their progress against the metrics and milestones. Be prepared to pivot Some businesses annually update their strategic plans, whether necessary or not. Although this is better than doing nothing, it may not be sufficient. Always be prepared to “pivot” — or update your plan on the fly — should a market opportunity develop. Back to CTDA This Week


An update from CTDA’s Representative to ANSI ASC A108:
June 1st, 2016

CTDA Wants You To Know



An update from CTDA’s Representative to ANSI ASC A108:

A revision for steel framing in A108.11 is being forwarded to the backerboard committee for review and resubmittal.

Two additional submissions have been made:

  1. Adding tub wall brackets
  2. Changes to toilet flange installations.

There is still work to be done before these are ready to be considered for ballot.

A lengthy discussion was held regarding proposed standards for Thin Tile or Panels in Draft Format for Gauged Porcelain Tile & Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels/Slabs A137.3 & A108.19. These products are considered to be tiles or panels over the size of one square meter. Several issues were discussed and it was determined that there is still a lot of work to be done on this project with a sense of urgency for completion.

It was suggested that a several items need to be reviewed in ANSI A137.1. Feedback from the group will be incorporated into a submittal and balloted in the next few months.

There was discussion of the need to do a complete review of all the A108 standards as there is a lot of information that needs updating. Most likely this will be completed in sections.

The next meeting is scheduled in conjunction with TSP on Friday afternoon 10/21/16.

Back to CTDA This Week


May 31st, 2016


(ALEXANDRIA, VA — MAY 20, 2016) The growth and energy at the 2016 Coverings show strengthened the show’s position as the leading international tile and stone exhibition in North America. More than 25,000 industry professionals attended the week-long expo, April 18-21, 2016. This figure is an increase in overall attendance from the 2015 show, and to industry insiders, affirms positive movement in the tile and stone market.

The 25,000-attendance count is a remarkable 15-percent increase from 2009, the last year Coverings was held in Chicago. This year’s most impressive attendance segment is held by distributors, which increased by a noteworthy 18-percent since 2009.

“The uptick in overall attendance from last year signals continued vitality and vigor in the tile and stone industry,” said Alena Capra, Coverings’ Industry Ambassador. “There was an onsite energy that emanated from the show floor, and it is encouraging to have that excitement verified with these recap figures.”

Veteran Coverings exhibitors noted the excitement on the show floor as well as the ample opportunities for networking and education that took place during the show.

“This year we had great feedback from key customers that came to the show. It’s important for us to have these quality interactions with attendees,” said Sarah Eamigh, director of U.S. marketing for Stone Peak. “The feedback from the architecture and design crowd is always exciting; there was a great turnout from that segment due to the show’s location in Chicago this year.”

There was also plenty of buzz from the Ceramics of Italy pavilion, which impressed attendees with a new central booth design in addition to the bevy of tile products from manufacturers.

“The atmosphere at Coverings 2016 was fantastic – we saw an exciting turnout in attendees here in Chicago,” said Dave Bouchard, representative of Emil America. “Chicago is a great town for the show, drawing in the architecture and design crowd, as well as retailers and distributors. We feel confident with the sales relationships generated by being at the show.”

Natucer, a long-time Spanish exhibitor, found the show to be an imperative part of the company’s global business for sales and relationship building.

“We have been at Coverings since 1998 and have always found tremendous value in the show. The North American market is always one of our top priorities after the domestic market in Spain,” said Victor Gasque Balaguer, area manager for Natucer Ceramica. “All of the programming and networking opportunities at the show are important in growing our relationships and increasing awareness of our products.”

There was no shortage of opportunities for attendees to build on their technical skills or to network with others, as Coverings offered an extensive conference program with more than 75 sessions and CEU courses.

Coverings 2017 will be held April 4-7 in Orlando, Florida.


Coverings Social Media


Twitter: @Coverings, #Coverings2016





Google +:


About Coverings

Coverings is the largest and most important ceramic tile and natural stone trade fair and expo in the United States. It features exhibitors from more than 40 countries and is the stage for introducing some of the most innovative tile and stone products in the world.

The exposition serves as a valuable resource for continuing education for all segments of the industry, with more than 75 informative, accredited seminars and live demonstration sessions throughout the show, all free of charge. Coverings attracts thousands of distributors, retailers, fabricators, contractors, specifiers, architectural and design professionals, builders and real estate developers, as well as journalists and bloggers who cover this vital and dynamic industry.

Sponsors of the show are The Ceramic Tile Distributor Association (CTDA), Tile of Spain/Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturer’s Association (ASCER),Ceramics of Italy/Confindustria Ceramica, National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) and the Tile Council of North America (TCNA). The show is managed by National Trade Productions.

Coverings 2016 takes place April 18-21 in McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. For more information, visit or contact National Trade Productions, Coverings Show Management, 703-706-8257.


Press Contacts:

Josh Schoenfelder

Kate Harrington

Sharp Communications


The University of Ceramic Tile and Stone’s (UofCTS) Online, “Understanding the Basics of Ceramic Tile” Course is Updated
May 20th, 2016

The University of Ceramic Tile and Stone’s (UofCTS) Online
“Understanding the Basics of Ceramic Tile” Course is Updated

UofCTS also releases CTDA Certified Ceramic Tile Specialist (CCTS) Study Guide online course

Education is the fastest and easiest way to increase sales and profits!
San Diego, CA, May 19, 2016 – The University of Ceramic Tile and Stone (UofCTS) just released an updated version of the popular Understanding the Basics of Ceramic Tile online technical and sales training course.  Both the USA version and the Canadian version of this course were updated.

The updated course offers a comprehensive look at ceramic tile uses, including industry standards, installation methods, avoiding problems, sales training, and how to work effectively with clients.

The updated course has an expanded section on glass tile and mosaics.  There are new sections on Thin Porcelain Tile Panels, tools, tile patterns, tile layout process and options, steam rooms and curbless showers; including updates to important industry standards.  The updated course was created with the latest HTML5 technology that allows students to access the courses with mobile devices such as smart phones and ipads.

UofCTS created and recently released a new online course for the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA).  The online course is called the CTDA Certified Ceramic Tile Specialist (CCTS) Study Guide.  This course is for those who are planning on taking the CCTS test.  It gives them all of the information they need to know for the CCTS test, and the student gets access to the course up until the time they pass the test.

UofCTS is currently in the process of updating the UofCTS Tile Installer Thin-set Standards (ITS) Verification online course.  Due to the high demand for this ITS course, the updated course will have additional sections on how to install Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels (thin porcelain tile panels), how to grout with cementitious and epoxy grouts, how to installed shower receptors, steam showers and curbless showers, and how to layout your tile work.  There will be an expanded section on installing glass tile and mosaics, and most important all of the relevant industry standards will be updated or added.  Both the USA version and the Canadian version of this course are being updated.  Also both the English version of this course and the Spanish version will be updated.  The updated ITS courses should be ready for release by the end of June.

UofCTS is currently in the process of developing a new UofCTS online course.  Due to many requests from architects and architectural sales representatives, UofCTS is developing an online course called “Tile and Stone Specifications and Working with Architects”.  The objective of this course is to teach how to write quality tile and stone architectural installation specifications, and to teach sales reps how to work with architects to generate specifications for their products.  This course is designed both for the architect and arch rep to teach them how to write a proper tile and stone specification. It is also designed to teach the sales representative how to develop what we call a “bullet proof spec”, and how to track and protect that spec in order to turn it into an order.   We expect this course to be released in late summer.  This course will be part of the requirements for those who want to become a Certified Tile Specialist (CTS) or a Certified Stone Specialist (CSS) through the UofCTS.

UofCTS Online courses are available through many key organizations in the tile and stone industry, where members receive special discounts.  Courses can be purchased through CTDA at, through Fuse Alliance at, through Local 18 Tile Union at, through NTCA at, through TTMAC at, through WWCA at for member rebates, or at the UofCTS website at

As is clearly understood by successful businesses, the fastest way to increase sales and profit is through education. Once employees and customers are trained they will become more confident, credible, and effective in their jobs, and there will be less costly failures and problems, resulting in more sales and profit.

To see video previews of each of the courses visit the website at

Tuition is only $150 per person and once registered, students have 14 days to complete the course which is accessible online, 24/7. Students can print a personalized certificate when they have passed all lesson assessments with a score of 80% or better.  Upon passing the course the student is provided a link to download a student reference guide that contains all of the key information from that respective course.  Volume discounts are available.

The UofCTS is the training division of Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants (CTaSC) and is committed to developing training programs for the ceramic tile and stone industry utilizing the latest and most effective technology and learning methodologies. Launched in 2003, UofCTS has enjoyed many years of success with trade and design professionals and is the leading online training University for the Tile and Stone Industry.

For more information please contact:

Tricia Pompo
Marketing Director
University of Ceramic Tile and Stone
Tel. 866/669-1550; Email:

NAW Update on Overtime Regulations
May 5th, 2016

CTDA Wants You To Know



Wants You To Know

CTDA Members


Jade West, Senior Vice President-Government Relations

National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors

As we reported last month, the Department of Labor (DoL) is moving forward with its proposed changes to the Wage & Hour Division’s Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime regulations.

As you know, in mid-March the Department sent its draft of a final rule to the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for their required review. This was the next step toward promulgation of a final rule.

For the last 6 weeks, OIRA has been reviewing comment letters and meeting with stakeholders on the rule’s real world effects. A number of members of the Partnership to Protect Workplace Opportunity (PPWO), the business coalition NAW helps manage which is leading the effort in opposition to the proposed regulations, have met with OIRA (and the representatives of other federal agencies including the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, the Small Business Administration (SBA), and DoL) to explain in oftentimes granular detail, the impact of the rule.

While most of the PPWO member meetings have involved businesses or business associations, a number of the meetings were requested by individuals representing the non-profit community, higher education, local governments, etc. We are hopeful that these non-traditional allies will be effective in persuading OMB that the proposed rule will cause harm to a broad cross section of employers and employees.

All meetings with OIRA in the regulatory review process are a made a part of the public record. If you are interested, you can see a list of the meetings and participants on the website (please note that they are now more than two weeks behind in posting the meetings): NAW requested a meeting with OIRA, and on April 22nd four NAW member company executives met for 45 minutes with officials from OMB/OIRA and the Department of Labor. This meeting gave us a great opportunity to give the government officials real-life and real-time information on the distribution industry and the negative impact of the Wage & Hour Division’s proposal not just on wholesale-distribution companies, but on the workers you employ and whom DoL claims to be helping. CURRENT STATE OF PLAY: Timing: As of this writing, the last date on which OMB has scheduled a meeting is May 10th, and we know they have declined a request for a meeting on May 17th. Based on those dates, we believe that a final rule could be released as early May 15th. (The just-released Fiduciary rule was released only 3 days after OMB completed its review, and Labor Secretary Perez is scheduled to make a speech at the National Press Club on May 16th.) Content: Late last week, Politico reported that DoL has moved to a slightly lower threshold salary in the final rule ($47,000) than was set forth in the proposed rule (50,400). The slightly-lower proposed salary threshold is the only change we know of in the rule DoL sent to OMB.

We do not know what action OMB will take – whether they will approve the rule now before them or instead recommend changes in the rule in response to the extensive comments they have received and meetings they have had in recent weeks.

We remain hopeful that the salary threshold will be further reduced, regional economic differences taken into consideration, the increase phased in rather than immediate, and a longer time allowed for initial implementation. In light of the President’s personal interest in this matter, we see no possibility that the rule will not move forward.

Legislation has been introduced in Congress calling on DoL to withdraw the rule and do more extensive and credible studies of the economic impact of their proposal, and several Members of Congress have contacted DoL making the same request. Unfortunately, we are not optimistic that these Congressional initiatives will influence upcoming DoL action.

We will continue to keep you apprised of the situation as this rule moves forward.


Foster and Clark Real Estate
CTDA - Online Education
CTDA - Membership