The Earth-friendly attributes of Natural Stone
The most significant development in the construction industry in the past decade is “green” or sustainable building. In 1998, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) – the country’s foremost coalition on sustainable building – established the LEED® Green Building Rating System ™. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) defines the standards for environmentally responsible, healthier, and more profitable structures, and awards points to new construction and major renovation projects in five categories: Energy & Atmosphere, Sustainable Sites, Indoor Environmental Quality, Water Efficiency, and Materials & Resources.
Natural stone is inherently earth-friendly and therefore is an excellent choice when selecting sustainable building materials for a green project. The natural stone industry is working not only to position itself in the green building community, but to identify the aspects that make natural stone an environmentally friendly product. These attributes include stone’s recyclability, durability, enduring life-cycle, and ease of care and maintenance. In addition to these traits inherent to the product, the natural stone industry itself constantly works to make its day-to-day processes environmentally friendly by minimizing waste, preventing pollution, and conserving natural resources. For example, best practice regulations have been put into place for quarries to ensure that the mining process does not cause considerable harm to the environment.
Global Granite & Marble® is proud to be affiliated with the Natural Stone Council (NSC), which has been working diligently to promote stone’s inherent sustainable properties, as well as to determine where the industry can make improvements. Since the majority of the companies in the stone industry are small privately owned businesses, the NSC pools resources to promote the green attributes of stone, while working towards expanding the categories under which stone may qualify for LEED points.
The NSC has partnered with The University of Tennessee’s Center for Clean Products to:
- Perform a “Sustainability Benchmark Study”
- Create “Best Practice” recommendations for:
- Reducing solid waste
- Recycling and reducing water consumption
- Perform “Life-cycle Inventories” for common types of dimensional stone
- Produce “Material Fact Sheets” for different types of stone
- Highlight real life examples of success stories through “Case Studies” on:
- Application of Green Building Certification Programs to Natural Stone
- Durability of Stone Flooring in High Traffic Areas
- Use of Reclaimed Stone in Building Construction
- Solar Reflectance of Natural Stone
Since the outset of civilization, natural stone has been used in any type of building imaginable. From our homes to our schools and hospitals, it provides a level of beauty and durability that is unmatched in the construction world. Today’s new focus on green building calls attention to yet another of natural stone’s benefits – its inherent earth-friendly attributes. Enhancing your home with the beauty of natural stone demonstrates that you care about the earth by striving to protect and restore our natural environment.