On February 6th, Limelight Tile & Ceramics opened the doors of its Strip District facility for a firsthand look into their seriously sustainable ceramics.
A Monmade producer and recipient of the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) Declare Label, Limelight prioritizes sustainability, transparency, and health. The family-owned business achieved its first Declare Label roughly a year ago and has been crafting ceramics since 2014.
The business is spearheaded by siblings Don Cella and Angela Arena. The pair were joined by ILFI’s Alex Co and Benson Gabler to walk tour-takers through Limelight’s show room and production floor, explaining how their clay tiles are produced and about the process of pursuing a Declare Label.
Today, there is a growing demand to know that products are safe, healthy, and environmentally friendly – which is exactly what the Declare Label signifies.
The Label ensures that certified products are not composed of “Red List” materials. These 22 toxic chemicals are compiled by ILFI to guide companies toward choosing healthier materials.
A Declare Label lists a product’s ingredients, where it is made, and whether it has been made with recycled content. It creates transparency in the material buying process.
“We also want to make sure we’re not preventing small businesses from working on Living Building Challenge projects,” Gabler explains. Hence the push to get smaller, locally run businesses to become Declare Label certified, so they can ride the new wave of sustainable building.
Helping local businesses become competitive within the market also ensures that regionally sourced products and materials get to be a part of that market. This results in a lower carbon footprint throughout the industry.
Limelight decided to pursue the Declare Label on its ‘Honeycomb’ and ‘Convex/Concave’ tile designs.
The Honeycomb and Convex-Concave lines are simply gorgeous, unique in their shape and characteristics. After both patterns were certified, Limelight decided to pursue a Label in their Extruded Series.
The series reuses the clay byproduct from the standard manufacturing process to create its patterns, resulting in minimal waste.
“Our initial concern was that suppliers would be proprietary about the information on ingredients in our glazes, but they actually already have a system in place to catalog the materials that they use, and they share those ingredients with us when we ask,” Arena said.
It is not uncommon for suppliers to be proprietary about this information. In fact, there is often plenty of back and forth between suppliers and businesses before those businesses can pursue a Declare Label. In efforts to remedy this, ILFI has been working on a letter campaign to suppliers to promote transparency throughout the industry.
Building relationships with suppliers and collaborators has been key to Limelight’s success. On our tour, Arena explains that it is usually the same few folks on the phone with the suppliers in Ohio.
“It’s not just some Joe Shmoe, you know? It’s either me or Don on the phone, and this allows us to develop relationships with the same few people.”
This type of close collaboration is key in recreating colors from Homer Laughlin’s FIESTA Glaze line after establishing a relationship with the supplier. These relationships give Limelight more control over the materials they select.
Green Building Alliance even sports a turquoise Limelight tile backsplash in our very own office’s kitchen – and we love it!
We also love knowing that behind the scenes, Limelight is one of Pittsburgh’s new champions in health and sustainability in the built environment. They forge strong relationships with regional suppliers and business partners, take the time to learn about and change what goes into their products, and swing green industry towards becoming even greener, one tile at a time.
Interested in learning more? Check out our events calendar and join us at one of our upcoming events!