In today’s building and construction industry, “green” has evolved from a mere buzzword into a solid reality. Architects, builders, and homeowners alike recognize the need to increase our environmental consciousness and do what we can to be kinder and gentler to the earth, plus conserve our natural resources. Natural stone is an inherently earth-friendly material, which recently became even more so when the Natural Stone Council unveiled more stringent sustainability standards for the industry.
What are some of the earth-friendly attributes offered by natural stone? Well, first of all it offers a long life cycle. Natural stone stands up to weathering better than just about any other building material, natural or manmade. The stone columns of the Parthenon, which have stood since 447 BC, are one example; the Egyptian pyramids are another. Natural stone is so durable, in fact, that in most cases it will last the lifetime of any particular building.
No other building material is as recyclable as natural stone. Nearly all of the stone from a deconstructed project is recyclable. It may be used on other projects or crushed up for other uses such as in concrete, sidewalk and driveway pavers, or even in manmade surfacing that uses natural stone as a base.
Research has concluded that natural stone emits no VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds.) These toxic gases may be found in other building materials such as paints, lacquers, and wood preservatives. They can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, loss of coordination, nausea, and damage to kidneys, the liver, and central nervous system. Some VOCs have been shown to cause cancer in animals and some have been linked to cancer in humans. Sometimes VOCs can come from the adhesives and sealants applied to natural stone, however once they have dried they become inert. There are also low- and no- VOC options available.
Choosing regionally manufactured and extracted, or “local,” stone also goes a very long way in reducing environmental impact. It cuts down on emissions of greenhouse gasses during transportation and can also go a long way to support the local economy. Check out a few popular natural stones that are quarried right here in the United States;
Olympian White Danby
While these earth-friendly attributes are admirable, the new standards will go even further to make natural stone not only meet, but exceed sustainable standards. The new regulations govern the following facets of natural stone operations:
1. Water usage and recycling
2. Customs and transportation
3. Site and plant management
4. Land reclamation and adaptive use
5. Corporate governance
6. Energy usage and conservation
7. Management of excess process materials and waste
8. Safer chemical and materials management
9. Human and health considerations
Every manufacturing site and fabrication plant will be certified on a site-specific basis. There are four different levels of certification: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.
Want to know the technical details on sustainability? Check out the Marble Institute of America’s (MIA) data on best practices:
You are also invited to visit one of our two New England area showrooms where our stone professionals can answer any specific questions you might have and explain to you what we do at Marble and Granite, Inc. to help minimize our carbon footprint.