San Diego Office Park Achieves Leed® Gold With Custom Emerald System™

How do you successfully combine the goals of green building and single source manufacturing with the need to install a wide variety of large format tile? Add in a highly compressed schedule and a lot of moisture-sensitive limestone.  Where do you turn for help?

Custom Building Products rose to each of these tile installation challenges with technical expertise and the right products for the job.

The resulting project is Township 14, a best-in-class corporate plaza development in prestigious Del Mar Heights, just north of San Diego, Calif. CUSTOM’s Emerald System™ products met the environmental standards of the builders with contributions to LEED® certification and Carbon Offset Credits.  In addition, all of the CUSTOM products chosen – plus the Technical Services team – exceeded the performance expectations of the tile contractor.

The Del Mar site consists of two Class A office buildings; a new 3-story structure and an existing 4-story building that was reskinned with core improvements for energy efficiency. An up-to-date yet timeless white limestone veneer distinguishes both buildings and unifies the overall design.

East County Tile and Marble of Santee, Calif. installed both limestone exteriors and Building One’s interior tile. “Custom Building Products has been a supplier I’ve used for over 32 years,” said Orin Barretich, the owner of East County Tile and Marble. “As always, their technical assistance on this project was extremely helpful.”

Job specifications called for 8″ x 36″ “Chenille White” limestone tile supplied by DalTile. East County Tile asked CUSTOM to test the limestone in their lab and recommend the best installation system. CUSTOM’s Technical Services department examined samples, reviewed testing results and determined that a rapid setting mortar such as ProLite® RS should be used. One of the factors considered was the limestone’s moisture sensitivity, which can present challenges if the tile is not set and sealed with appropriate products.

ProLite RS Premium Rapid Setting Large Format Tile Mortar was selected to install the limestone throughout the project.  ProLite is a dry-set mortar with excellent bond strength designed for large and heavy tile and stone.  Its advanced, rapid setting formula contributes to less efflorescence than other cement-based mortars.  This Emerald System product is formulated with lightweight recycled content, so it weighs 40% less than traditional mortars.  The lightweight formula gives ProLite superior handling characteristics which make it easier to use on the job site. A 30-pound bag of ProLite typically covers the same area as 50 pounds of traditional mortar.

Exterior walls were prepared with CUSTOM’s RedGard® Liquid Waterproofing and Crack Prevention Membrane. RedGard creates a continuous moisture barrier that protects the buildings from water intrusion and helps prevents cracks from transmitting into the tile.

Prior to setting and grouting, the limestone tiles were immersed in rapid-curing Aqua Mix® Sealer’s Choice® Gold to provide six-sided sealing protection.  Sealer’s Choice Gold is a premium, no-sheen formula that keeps stone looking natural and does not prevent moisture vapor transmission.

All of the limestone was grouted with Prism® Color Consistent Grout, another component of CUSTOM’s Emerald System. Prism is a fast-setting, lightweight, polymer-modified grout that delivers ANSI A118.7 high performance benefits and offers uniform, consistent color despite varying conditions at the jobsite.

The interior lobbies and other common spaces were set with large format porcelain tile measuring from 12″ x 24″ to 12″ x 36″.  CUSTOM’s Large Format Tile-LFT Fortified Medium Bed Mortar was chosen for its non-slumping, lippage-eliminating properties.  (Note: Large Format Tile Mortar has now been replaced by VersaBond®-LFT Professional Large Format Tile Mortar.)

As with the signature limestone veneer, Prism grout was selected to finish the porcelain tile installation in these prominent, public-facing areas.  The porcelain tile and grout were sealed with Aqua Mix Penetrating Sealer to help resist stains from foot traffic.

RedGard liquid waterproofing membrane was applied prior to tiling the intermittently wet areas of the buildings. This included all bathrooms, the showers in the fitness center and an onsite gourmet café. The tile installed varied from 2″ x 2″ ceramic on the shower floors to quarry tile in the café kitchen.

These smaller tiles were set with VersaBond Professional Thin-Set Mortar, an all-purpose, polymer-modified mortar. They were grouted with PolyBlend® Sanded Grout for hard, dense joints that will resist shrinking and wear. Movement joints both indoors and outdoors were treated with CUSTOM Commercial 100% Silicone Sealant, which remains permanently flexible to protect the tile.

From specification consultations and materials testing to installation training and regular site inspections, the team at CUSTOM was on hand to help at every step of the tiling process.  “I have great confidence in their products and their service. Both gave an excellent performance during this project,” said Barretich.

Custom Building Products is committed to environmental responsibility in both products and manufacturing practices. Over 100 CUSTOM Build Green® products contribute to LEED certification with low VOCs, recycled content and regionally sourced materials. CUSTOM’s Emerald System goes a step further, with products that are guaranteed to comply with environmental agency regulations. The Emerald System is also the first line of tile installation products to offer Carbon Offset Credits that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Plus, these elite products are so durable that they are eligible for up to a Lifetime System Warranty.

Township 14 has received Gold LEED-NC certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for Building One and LEED Silver for Building Two. LEED contributing products such as CUSTOM’s ProLite and Prism helped to earn important points for this application. Installing an Emerald System also qualified the project for over 7,000 Carbon Offset Credits.

CUSTOM and the Emerald System were the right choice for this project.  The next time you are pursuing LEED certification and need to deliver a long-lasting installation, don’t just go green. Go Emerald.



Product(s) Used:

San Diego, CA

Year Completed:



Gensler, San Diego, CA


DPR Construction, San Diego, CA

Tile Contractor:

East County Tile and Marble, Santee, CA with work also completed by Wirtz Tile and Stone, San Diego, CA

CBP Regional Technical Representative:

John Diaz, CSI, CTC, architectural consultant; Brian Swann, territory manager; Chris Vombaur, regional technical services representative.