A sustainable future is on the vista!

By Peter Brown, Director, Bedrock Tiles.

Here we are again looking toward the future of architecture, design and construction, with various regulations coming through to ensure we remain safe, the buildings we build function and, of course, will last long into the future.

Bedrock Tiles have grown over the years since our inception back in 2011 to be UK leaders in sustainable ceramics for specifiers across the world. While we confess we don’t and couldn’t know every update or refreshment to each and all eco-accreditation that are currently out there at any given time, we absolutely strive to keep on top of it the best we can.

Bedrock works particularly closely with universities across the UK and extend our CPD sessions, which are about Sustainable Ceramics to help educate the students coming through architecture and design courses.
Bedrock teaches these creative, next generation legends that, regardless of what pressures are under at any time, you never need to compromise your sustainable design to meet a cost target… ever!

Some of the students Bedrock have been lucky enough to educate have gone on to become excellent architects and designers and enjoy creating fantastic, sustainable projects.

We do offer our CPD services to specifying practices or firms that need more in-depth information on the items listed further into the article we’ve prepared, and some other topics such as ISO standards which delve into the manufacturing processes. Topics also discuss the measurement and use of embodied energy, that is something we covered in last year’s Specifiers Guide and so on.

Sustainability in 2018

What should we have a look at in this year’s edition of the Specifiers Guide?
From our viewpoint, it’s going to be sustainability – of course- but why and how would we consider using it.

Have you ever been asked ‘What is sustainability?’ by your client. There’s a real mixed bag of information in the marketplace now, so people are actively asking this very question to find out if what they’ve heard is factual or not?

Sustainability is in everything, not so much recycling but a methodology of life. Here is an example. Most of us do this ‘sustainability’ ever week when putting out our blue, green and black bins. So, is this different from sustainability in construction? Not really, the latter is just on a grander and, certainly, more regulated scale.

There was an article in the Investors Chronicle on the 5/1/2018 where it states that renewable energy, for the first time, increased over the last year by 25% making renewables – such as solar, wind, hydro and biomass – contribute 29% of UK energy last year. So, ask us again why we’re so driven by sustainabity. It is massive and you can easily be a part of it too.

The question, we here at Bedrock get asked often is: ‘Which of your ranges is sustainable?’

We simply need to know what accreditation or certification your project is trying to achieve because there are differences in requirements between the major pair that cover both new build and commercial refurbishment: BREEAM and SKA.


The Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) is a leading design and assessment method for sustainable ‘new’ buildings. It sets the benchmark and high standard for the best practice in sustainable design. The assessment measures the buildings performance against established criteria. There is a spectrum of relevant topics that the assessment is made over, ranging from materials right through to ecology and energy. The areas that are titled consist of waste, ecology, pollution, transport, materials, the environmental health (health and well-being), energy & water use and management systems.

As a client, by achieving a BREEAM rating you can benefit from the following:

Market recognition for low environmental impact buildings

Confidence that tried and tested environmental practice is incorporated in the building

Inspiration to find innovative solutions that minimise the environmental impact

A benchmark that is higher than regulation

A system to help reduce running costs, improve working and living environments

A standard that demonstrates progress towards corporate and organisational environmental objectives

I have taken the following extract from information found on the BRE (Building Research Establishment) website referring to hard floor finishes to offer the environmental rating awarded by BRE.

For more in-depth information relating to BRE, feel free to get in touch with Bedrock Tiles on 01604 330003 or

SKA Rating

SKA Rating is measured in Bronze, Silver or Gold achievements for ‘Commercial Refurbishments and Fit-Out’.

It is said that UK Green Building Council estimates that non-domestic buildings account for 18% of UK carbon emissions and on top of that the waste from fitting out offices goes straight to landfill, therefore it is by adopting good practice when fitting out or refurbishing offices you can dramatically reduce their environmental impact.

The SKA Rating is the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) environmental assessment method. It was launched in 2009 in regard to non-domestic fit-outs. The rating helps landlords and tenants evaluate and rate a project against sustainable criteria. It is estimated that the spending in UK construction on fit-out, accounts for 11%, and buildings may have 30 TO 40 fit-outs during their lifecycle. It differs from other categorising systems in that it is project-driven: it labels fit-out projects irrespective of base building.

SKA consists of 104 good practice measures which cover waste, transport, water, materials, pollution, wellbeing, energy, and CO2 emissions. The scheme currently has 1200 users. The 2011 version of SKA allows owners and landlords to measure and understand the performance in both commercial and environmental capacities of water and energy consumption for the following 12 months. The 12 months occupancy assessment completes the design and handover assessments allowing the occupiers to manage their working environment or limit their sustainability measures introduced as a part of the green fit-out.

Companies that adopt a more sustainable design and become SKA Rated will engage their employees whilst strengthening their brand, energy cost savings will be up to 31%. The actual amount of product saved from being sent to landfill could be as high as 99% and with the cost of landfill approximately £56 per ton it is possible that this scheme could save the project money.

The criteria is being revised and updated continually but at time of writing there are a number of means that you could include in the design of the project to achieve SKA Rating. These products must achieve or be rated with sustainable accreditation and that all hard floor surface coverings meet at least one of the following.

Criteria: (Current at the time of writing and relates to SKA-Commercial)

They are reused

Containing 25% recycled content or higher

Have an A or A+ rating in BRE’s Green Book Live database for the retail scheme

Cradle to Cradle Gold or Platinum certificate

Achieves A or A+ in the Green Guide to Specification for the retail scheme
The products are supplied with an environmental product declaration which is written in accordance with ISO 14025 standards

Some other interesting things to discuss while we’re talking about ‘sustainability’ are what the factories, that Bedrock work with do in addition to using recycled content in their physical tiles. Before we list out some of the things that are used let’s recap on what recycled content is and the different types, here’s what it is in ceramics:

Recycled Content

Porcelain and Ceramic tiles are sustainable both in their manufacturing process and the actual volume of content contained in the product itself. Let us take a look at the three main areas of how recycled content is used within tiles.

Pre-Production – This is where the manufacturer takes the material that is chipped, scratched or not aesthetically or technically suitable from any stage before the tile goes into the kiln firing process. The material is then recycled and milled into re-usable material to be included in the production process.

Post-Production – This is where the tile has gone through the firing process but isn’t at the required quality levels for distribution. The material is milled down into re-usable products to be used in making new products.

Post-Consumer – This is where the material has been used or consumed after production. The best example we can offer is to mention that the glass from cathode screens in old television sets is now being crushed and used in porcelain and ceramic tile production. Glass mosaic tiles are also reclaimed, melted and re-blown into fresh mosaics.

The factories as mentioned previously, take extra steps in using recycled content in their collections also take measures to be more energy efficient during their operational process. This goes in the favour of a high sustainable accreditation. Examples of the methods they achieve this are by channelling heat from the kilns and directing it through to drying rooms and other areas within the factory to save on the amount of heating required in those areas than the by using regular methods of heating a building. The factories also recycle 100% of the water from the cutting process by filtering and removing the sill (residues left from cutting tiles) followed by the reuse of water in further cutting schedules. The distribution aspect of the production run would command recycled cardboard and minimum use packaging policies when designing tile boxes. You would notice that good factories strive to use the bare minimum packaging without compromising the safety of the tiles.

Transport factors

Transport is a massive talking point when you are looking at a carbon foot print! This is the inconvenient part of our sustainable dream, we concede. The good thing is that BREEAM assess the transport section as a part of their measurement criteria, they recognise that porcelain or ceramic tiles that include the correct technical properties needed for commercial property are manufactured in Europe, which in turn guarantees manufacturing regulations (ISO) and human rights are protected in the workplace opposed to some corners of the globe, which without getting nailed, we can’t disclose. BREEAM recognise that even with the output of pollution from transport in the assessment, that porcelain tiles achieve either a B or an A dependant on their thickness.

Bedrock will only use certified FORS registered transportation companies for the importing and distribution of all our collections and deliveries. Bedrock do this specifically because it matters to us that we support firms who put in the effort to make the difference in our fast paced, consuming world. It is possibly a good time to explain how we import tiles.

The whole ceramics industry works on a groupage system. Unless the tiles are required fast, then the transport company’s lorry arrives at a factory and they load the truck up to the rafters, they load it with any/all orders destined to the UK (or other countries respectively), they are then taken to a ‘groupage’ depot and arranged onto trains or different trucks dependant on their exporting company’s requirements.

By operating this method or groupage as we refer to it as, meaning every truck driving around these areas are getting the maximum load to reduce the amount of trucks in the region at any time because you must remember, these factories produce in excess of 6,000 sq. metres per day and supply the world with tiles. That’s a lot of trucks if the groupage wasn’t in place.

Thank you for reading through this, if you would like to know a little more about Bedrock Tiles then feel free to get in touch and a member of our friendly team either at the Surface Design Show 2018 or simply by phone or email to our offices and we would be more than happy to help you with your project.

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informed @BedrockTiles.

T: 01604 330003