Every element of Desert Rain has a story. With the interior aspects of the project coming into place, the current chapter is tile. Doug Cahail is the tile master. He was working on the kitchen backsplash as we talked. Doug has tiled other green building projects but found the Living Building Challenge stringent guidelines to be, well, – a challenge.
Doug did the research on his own time to find setting materials, waterproofing agents, and grouts that are compliant with the Living Building Challenge Redlist and sourcing. He worked with suppliers and the Desert Rain team to find materials that meet the LBC standards. He said, ‘The difficulty is finding products that are green and maintain the integrity and strength necessary to keep tile on the wall and waterproofed.’ From the shower pans and the sealing for the drains to the thinset, grout, and caulking for the tile – every product had to be researched and then ‘vetted’ and approved by M.L. Vidas, the LBC consultant for the project. Doug said the time he put in ‘pro-bono’ on the research gives him information he can access for future jobs.
The tile being installed at Desert Rain is from a company called Fireclay. At their factory in San Jose, California they are turning trash to tiles. Tile from their Debris series is made from over 70% recycled content that is sourced within 50 miles of their factory. The recycled ingredients, including crushed toilets, save natural resources and make a hard, ceramic tile that can be used on floors, walls, or countertops.
Desert Rain is also using ‘Crush’ tiles from Fireclay. Crush is made from 100% recycled glass from local sources within 20 miles of the factory. The name ‘crush’ is appropriate to the process of collecting the pre-consumer, raw waste window glass, crushing and processing it at the factory and transforming the trash to sustainable and beautiful glass tiles. The fusing technology and kiln firing used at Fireclay creates recycled glass tiles that use less than one-fourth the energy in traditional cast-glass tile processing.
Fireclay Tile is a company committed to making a product that makes a difference in the built environment. They recycle in three different ways: by formulating tiles that utilize a majority of post-consumer and post-industrial waste materials, by processing internally produced scrap materials back into the clay bodies, and by finding special markets for tiles that do not meet their exacting specifications. The Fireclay company and founders have a long history of making decisions and products that are good for the environment, their employees, and customers. Doug Cahail, tile master on the Desert Rain project, is also to be commended for his diligence in pursuing the products and materials that meet the Living Building Challenge requirements. Doug will now have resources available for other green projects. He embraced the challenge and the idea of finding a way to make his profession more eco-friendly. The educational element of the Living Building Challenge transcends through the trades. A significant element of the Living Building Challenge is to find and support businesses, manufacturers, and contractors that are concentrating their efforts on sustainability, awareness, and equity in the built environment. Fireclay and Doug Cahail are mastering the tile trade.