The first section of ANSI A138.1, Environmental Product Characteristics, standardizes sustainable attributes such as the amount of recycled content, level of volatile organic emissions, amount of indigenous raw materials, etc.
Three levels of recycled content and reclaimed waste are defined in the standard. Level 1 is mandatory for conformance, and levels 2 and 3 are elective. Remember though that ANSI A138.1 covers many different materials: ceramic tile, glass tile, backer boards, sheet membranes, mortars and grouts, etc. Different levels are set for each product type.
There are also three standardized levels of indigenous raw material content. Recognizing the environmental burden from transportation, indigenous raw materials are those extracted within 500 miles of the manufacturing site. If coming by rail or sea, the limit is 2000 miles. All three levels are elective.
There are five electives for sustainable packaging. All five are elective, but it is mandatory that at least one of these electives be achieved:
- Minimal packaging (packaging cannot exceed a specified percentage of the product weight)
- Recyclable packaging (a specified percentage of the packaging can be recycled)
- On-site reusable packaging (100% reusable on site)
- Biodegradable or compostable packaging (which meets specific ASTM biodegradability criteria)
- Recycled content packaging (which contains a specified level of recycled content)
Mandatory for conformance to ANSI A138.1, a product must meet industry standards for durability and performance. For example, tile must comply with ANSI A137.1. Also mandatory for conformance, a product shall have low (for installation products) or no (for tile) volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. Environmentally-friendly maintenance instructions must also be available.
Finally, as elective options for conformance to A138.1, criteria for solar reflectance index (SRI), light reflectance value (LRV), and sound abatement are all established. Also, electives for having a life cycle assessment (LCA) and/or an environmental product declaration (EPD) are available.