The Grand Dam
Few structures in America display the diversity of design and craftsmanship that you see at Hoover Dam. It is a showcase of seldom-seen skills of artists and artisans--beautifully presented terrazzo tiles, sculpture, metalwork, and even military emplacements.
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Terrazzo has long been valued for its life cycle characteristics: low maintenance, durability, and indoor air quality - with
recycled content being an additional attractive feature. Terrazzo aggregates, binders and finished flooring systems can
contribute to the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) credits, under the LEED-NC rating system, version 2.2. The
following analysis was performed by Michael A. Kawecki, LEED AP, USGBC North Texas Chapter:
Terrazzo floors typically last the life of the structure. In many renovation projects, the original terrazzo flooring has been
restored to its original luster following some inexpensive repairs and refinishing. Refinishing of terrazzo can be combined
with the reuse of other non-shell areas like walls, doors, and ceiling systems to achieve 50% reuse.
Terrazzo allows for easy incorporation of recycled glass, as well as stone or marble that has been salvaged from other
buildings and re-crushed and sieved for the terrazzo trade. One point is granted for 10% recycled content and a second
point for an additional 10% (20% total) of the total value of the materials on the project. A floor containing 100%
recycled glass would contain as much as 75% by volume of recycled product. Aluminum strips may also contain
recycled metal. The credit is based on the dollar value of the raw material.
One point is awarded if 10% of the project building materials is extracted, harvested or recovered, as well as manufactured
within a 500-mile radius of the project and the calculation is based on the cost of the raw materials. The marble chips, glass
aggregate, as well as the cement and epoxy binders are available throughout the United States. Terrazzo can contribute to
the credit if the raw material supplier is located within 500 miles of the project site. A second point is awarded if the total
percentage of the cost of regional materials is at least 20%.
Terrazzo can be a part of the construction waste management team and assist in the reclamation of waste from the construction
process. In projects that require demolition of existing structures, the terrazzo contractor can be part of the construction
waste management team - reclaiming aggregate and thereby avoiding disposal into the landfill. If desired, the salvaged
aggregate can potentially be used in the flooring of the new building project.
Cement based terrazzo systems are inorganic binders containing no Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's). The epoxy
manufacturers of thin set epoxy terrazzo systems have moved to 100% solid formulas, eliminating the addition of any VOC's
in the material. Certification of compliance may be obtained from the individual epoxy manufacturer.
Terrazzo can also potentially gain additional points under the Innovation and Design category for
innovative performance in Green Building categories not specifically addressed by LEED. Extensive
use of terrazzo as a predominant floor material can potentially result in an installation with a Life
Cycle Analysis that exceeds that of other floor materials.
Overall, on typical projects, terrazzo can realistically contribute to five LEED credits: MRcr4 (2),
MRcr5 (2) EQcr4.1(1). On a case-by-case scenario, terrazzo may also be able to contribute to
MRcr1.3 (1), and in extreme cases Idcr1 (1) and MRcr2 (1), for a total of 8 points.