Keope and the environment

Green Building Council Italia is the association that promotes the culture of sustainable, energy-effective, environmental-friendly building, hence contributing to the improvement of the quality of life by means of the LEED® certification standard. LEED standards define the requirements for building eco-compatible buildings that are both sustainable and self-sufficient in terms of energy. In 2009 Ceramiche Keope, a division of Atlas Concorde, became a member of the Green Building Council Italia (GBC Italia) and of the Green Building Council USA (USGBC), that proposes to introduce the independent LEED - Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design - certification system, the parameters of which establish precise planning criteria for the realisation of health and energy-efficient buildings with a contained environmental impact. See the Greenthinking.it web site for more details about LEED® credits of Keope collections.

The LEED certification is being established on the American market as one of the most diffused systems for the certification of buildings, from the planning stage to daily management. LEED, namely Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an international certification, used in more than 140 countries, which defines new criteria for the design of the buildings in which we live, work or study. The certification was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in 2000 and is also present in Italy thanks to the work of GBC Italia that created a local version. Thanks to the GBC, which is a non-governmental and independent body, the LEED certification guarantees purchasers and end users of the building design that aims to attain a high performance in key areas of health and protection of the environment, such as: sustainable development of the building site, low water consumption, energy efficiency, choice of materials and environmental quality, bearing in mind the entire life cycle of the building. With nearly 150 thousand certified square metres every day, LEED is changing the manner with which you design, build and live and this applies to single houses as well as entire quarters. All Keope tiles are LEED-compliant. See the Greenthinking.it web site for more details about LEED® credits of Keope collections.

Parameters measured for LEED certification are: Sustainable site – Use of existing sites, minimising the impact of buildings on the ecosystem, control and management of rain water, evaluation of the emission of polluting substances, also during construction. Water efficiency – Buildings are the greatest consumers of potable water. This prerequisite is based on an intelligent use of water both indoors and outdoors. Energy and Atmosphere – This prerequisite encourages the adoption of strategies for better use of energy, such as for instance: more efficient household appliances, better design and more effective lighting, as well as the use of renewable sources of energy. Material & Resources – Both during construction and during use, buildings produce an enormous amount of waste and employ enormous quantities of resources. This prerequisite encourages the use of local materials and promotes reduction of waste materials by reusing and recycling. In particular, points are awarded for reduction of waste "at the root". Indoor Environmental Quality – If one considers that a human being spends an average 90% of the day inside a building, one can understand why it is necessary to dedicate so much attention to this aspect. This prerequisite promotes strategies to improve the quality of air, of natural lighting and acoustic comfort. Locations and Linkages – This prerequisite encourages building on previously developed land and away from areas that are critical from an environmental point of view. More points are awarded for sites near to existing infrastructures, walking areas, sports areas and areas for outdoor activities. Awareness and education – In accordance to the LEED system, a house is truly "green" if the people living in it can use its "green" properties to the best. This prerequisite encourages builders and professionals of the building trade to instruct tenants and homeowners to correctly use their homes. Innovation and Design – Special points are awarded to projects that are based on the use of innovative technology and strategies to improve the performance of a building, which are not described in the previous categories. This category awards points to projects that are developed by teams including a professional who is credentialed with respect to LEED and who can guarantee a holistic approach to design. Each of these categories contributes to the awarding of LEED points in a variable measure, as established by the awarding committee. The sum of points determines the certification level reached by the building. Of the 110 total points available at least 40 must be obtained for the Certified level. There are 4 certification levels depending on the points obtained:

  • Certified: from 40 to 49 points,
  • Silver: from 50 to 59 points,
  • Gold: from 60 to 79 points,
  • Platinum: over 80 points.

All Keope tiles are LEED-compliant. See the Greenthinking.it web site for more details about LEED® credits of Keope collections.

Ecolabel is a product certification system of the European Union. It is a mark of ecological quality, acknowledged by the 25 member states of the European Union that can be applied to basic commodities that are normally purchased in shops and supermarket distribution chains. This label certifies that the manufacturer saves energy, reduces environmental impact caused by the extraction of raw materials, limits the use and production of substances that are harmful to man and the environment and reduces pollution of the atmosphere and water. The label is issued after a careful analysis of the complete life cycle of the product; it is applied only on goods that are acknowledged as having a reduced environmental impact. High quality products are amongst the main targets of Ceramiche Keope. These targets also include an environmental-friendly policy. For this reason, the company is now offering its customers added value and the possibility to choose eco-compatible products fulfilling the standards established by the European Community. The entire product catalogue of Ceramiche Keope is Ecolabel certified. For detailed information about series with the Ecolabel mark, see Greenthinking.it or the technical data sheets of each collection.

ANAB is an association that aims to spread the principles of sustainable architecture through research, training, consultancy and certification of the environmental sustainability of building products. The ANAB trademark thus indicates products that have been certified as meeting evaluation criteria after being tested and validated by ICEA (the Institute for Ethical and Environmental Certification). ICEA evaluates products that require the eco-quality label and measures results on the basis of set standard values. It is one of the most important organisms of the sector in Europe, with over 13 thousand monitored companies. In September 2010, Ceramiche Keope obtained ANAB ICEA certification attesting that the porcelain stoneware tiles meet the requirements of the ANAB (National Association for Bioecological Architecture) standards for materials for bioarchitecture. The criteria of evaluation that the Association adopted to issue the certification for Ceramiche Keope products takes account of the entire lifecycle of the material: from finding raw materials to final use; the production phases are monitored in order to ensure respect for the environment. See the Greenthinking.it web site for more information about collections with the ANAB mark.

The Kyoto Protocol is an international environmental treaty regarding global warming and undersigned on the 11th December 1997 by more than 160 countries. The treaty came into force on February 16th, 2005 after the ratification by Russia. The treaty foresees the obligation of industrialised countries to reduce emissions of polluting elements by not less than 5.2% in respect of emissions recorded in 1990 during the period 2008 – 2012. By virtue of its modern production facilities, in 2004, Ceramiche Keope was the first ceramic industry to have completed the process of control and reduction of its emissions of CO2 and greenhouse gas, as established by the Kyoto Protocol. Ceramiche Keope has once again confirmed its commitment to an environmental-friendly "mission", by becoming, in 2007, the 1st European company and 1st ceramic industry in the world to attain the prestigious UNI ISO 14064 certification for the enforcement of the Kyoto Protocol. The UNI ISO 14064 (GHG – Greenhouse gas) standard is a common reference instrument for governments and industry for quantifying, managing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Ceramiche Keope assesses and effectuates the monitoring of all direct and indirect emissions in respect of the ISO 14064 standard. See the Greenthinking.it web site for more details.

Keope and porcelain stoneware

Porcelain stoneware tiles are obtained by means of a sintering process involving the slurry. Firing takes place in long kilns at a temperature of about 1350°C. The raw material is gradually heated to a maximum temperature. This temperature is maintained for a short time and the resulting material is gradually cooled until it reaches ambient temperature. The firing process determines vitrification of the slurry, which makes the material particularly sturdy, water-proof and frost-proof. During firing, however, previously pressed material may go subject to deforming. Major faults affect flatness, size grade and curvature. Deformity defects determine quality of the finished product; after firing, tiles are sorted into grades in terms of size and tone. Material that does not comply with the parameters of the UNI standards is downgraded (2nd grade, 3rd grade, etc.).

'Surface finish' means the process adopted to obtain certain conditions of roughness and of shape and size tolerances.

The surface of a tile can be classified for its appearance or for its texture:

  • a natural finish can be smooth and matt or soft and satin-effect or may have a slightly textured surface;
  • a structured (or even bush-hammered) surface features all the characteristics of natural stone, such as relief, sand-effects, waviness;
  • a lapped surface is glossy because it is polished by means of a mechanical process, without removing any surface material;
  • a polished surface is glossier still because it has been mirror-polished. Up to 1 mm of pressed surface material can be removed.

A glazed surface (the K-Color series by Ceramiche Keope) is coated with a thin layer of vitreous material that determines the colour and glossiness.

“Shade variation” means that there are visible differences in tone. It means that single tiles have different tones the one respect to the other. The Keope catalogue includes collections that have a very bold shade variation to create the veining of natural stone. These are suitable for adding character to floors and walls in exterior and interior environments by means of uncommon shades. Other collections are characterised by an even colour for a more contemporary style, ideal for living areas and sleeping areas with a modern and minimal look.

Rectifying is the process by which tile edges are made perfectly square. This makes it possible to install tiles with very narrow joints to obtain a refined and elegant aesthetic result. For floors featuring a combination of various rectified sizes, it is recommended to leave 2 mm joints. For walls featuring rectified products, it is recommended to leave 2 mm joints. Rectified sizes are often used for bathrooms and kitchens, which are rooms that have particular requirements owing to the damp, dirt and frequent use of detergents. In this case, a very narrow joint improves hygiene and ensures firmness of wall tiles. Tiles that are not rectified have unfinished edges and call for larger joints.

All tiles must be resistant to stains and chemicals. A tile for exterior use, however, must have different properties with respect to a tile for interiors because it is in direct contact with the elements. In order to be suitable for outdoor use, a tile must be frost-proof, as porcelain stoneware is, and must have a high non-slip coefficient.

Many countries have a specific non-slip standard for classification of the slip resistance of floors in order to prevent accidents. As a general rule, safety of a floor relates to its non-slip properties, to correct installation and cleaning of the surface. Furthermore, when choosing a floor tile, one must consider the conditions of use also with regard to specific intended uses.

a) DIN 51130 standard (Germany): it is applied for the classification of tiles based on their slip resistance in working environments subject to pedestrian traffic of persons with footwear. The test is conducted using an inclined ramp carrying the sample material to test. An operator clad in safety boots walks up and down the sample while a lubricating agent is fed onto the surface. The maximum angle of slip of the ramp after which the operator slips is recorded. At the presence of slippery substances, a flat and non-slip surface is not sufficient. In this case, classification is calculated on the basis of gaps below the surface subject to foot traffic, measured in cm3/dm2. The greater the volume, the safer the floor.

b) DIN 51097 standard (Germany): it is applied for the classification of tiles based on their slip resistance in environments subject to pedestrian traffic of persons that are barefoot. In the same manner as the DIN 51130, the test is conducted using an inclined ramp carrying the sample material to test. A barefoot operators walks up and down the sample while a soap and water solutions is fed onto the surface.

c) DM 236/89 (Italy): the Ministerial Decree sets forth that, for some types of building, floors must be slip resistant i.e. they must have a friction coefficient, measured by means of the BCRA Rep. CEC 6-81 (British Ceramic Research Association) method, that is higher than 0.40 both on wet and dry surfaces. The test is conducted using a portable instrument (TORTUS) that moves at a constant speed along the surface: the instrument measures the coefficient of friction during the test. For information about the non-slip properties of the Keope series, refer to the technical data sheets of each collection.

Recommendations for installation

No, joints are always necessary. However, depending on the type of tile or rather on the type of tile edge, the joint can be narrow (2 mm) or wide (up to 5 mm). Tile installation depends on the characteristics of the collection. It is essential to pay particular attention to product blending and to keep the grouting joints as narrow as possible. If tiles are rectified (the edges are perfectly wedged), they can be installed with a narrow joint (2 mm) to obtain an elegant and refined overall effect. The final result has a high aesthetic impact. Narrow joints are recommended for modern and technological products and large sizes. In the case of traditional or rustic tiles, with edges that are not wedged after firing, we recommend a wider joint (4 or 5 mm) to obtain a final effect that is suitable for the aesthetic and functional characteristics of the tile. One must be aware of the fact that floors with narrow joints are stiffer. In some cases, structural movements of screeds and floor slabs can lead to deforming and breakage of installed tiles.

Butt joint installation means butting up one tile next to another without a gap. Standards and rules relating to installation, however, envisage a minimum 2 mm joint. Materials to be installed with this kind of joint must be rectified and have wedged edges with sharp corners. To give the surface a continuous effect, it is recommended to use a tone-on-tone grout.

Installing tiles is an important stage of a project and calls for a high degree of expertise as well as particular care. A preliminary design stage is essential for satisfactory tile installation, which is: harmonious, regular, in good condition and long-lasting. During the design stage, which must be entrusted to a qualified professional, crucial variables are examined: intrinsic characteristics of the wall or floor; any surface treatments to provide; width and layout of joints between tiles; size of any expansion gaps (essential for the durability of the installation).

Use and care of Keope products

Cleaning "after installation" is necessary to remove any residues of grout for joints, cement, mortar, adhesion grout. It is necessary both for glazed and unglazed tiles. Badly performed cleaning after installation or, worse still, failure to perform after-installation cleaning, may cause stains that will impair floor cleaning, even if this is performed daily. Whenever possible, especially on medium to large surfaces, it is recommended to clean using a motorised brush with soft discs (white or beige). To remove residues of cement-based grout mixed with water, use specific diluted acid-buffer detergents (that are easy to retrieve and are commercially available). For recommendations on products to use for removal of residues of grout or other materials, see the dedicated section.

Many standard detergents contain wax or gloss-enhancing additives that tend to deposit on the floor and create glossy films, which are troublesome and cause stains. These films can also result from the use of some types of grouts for joints. Apart from the staining and increased glossiness, these films can have a water-repellent effect, which is sometimes particularly noticeable. For cleaning tips, go to the dedicated section or fill in the form in the Contact section and you will be contacted by a member of our technical staff. For recommendations on products to use for removal of residues of grout or other materials, see the dedicated section.

For recommendations on products to use for routine care, see the dedicated section.

Miscellaneous

Ceramiche Keope is based in Casalgrande (Reggio Emilia), Italy, but has retailers and distributors all over the world. Fill in the special form to acquire information about the nearest retailer.

Our showroom is open as follows: from Monday to Friday, from 8:30 to 12:30 and from 14:30 to 18:30. You will find our showroom in the Casalgrande (Reggio Emilia) facilities in Strada Statale 467, 21. Please remember that our materials are only sold by our Authorised Retailers. Fill in the special form to acquire information about the nearest retailer.

Before installation, first of all establish which kind of tile to order. This depends on your technical and aesthetic needs Then establish the quantity to order. Calculate the area to tile, evaluate the technique to adopt for installation, consider that some pieces may be faulty or may need to be cut or drilled and lastly make sure to order some extra (spare) pieces. As a general rule, it is a good idea to order 10% more than the tiles needed to cover your surface.

Ceramiche Keope manufactures porcelain stoneware tile and can fulfil any requirement in terms of surface and size: sizes range from the 15x15 cm to the 60x120 cm and 90x90 cm. Products are available with different surfaces, from the natural to the lapped, or the structured for outdoor use. Keope produces slabs of porcelain stoneware with a thickness ranging from 4.8 mm (Kover series) to 20 mm (K2 collection).