Are you considering remodeling, building a new home, or just wondering how to improve your dream home’s sustainability? Consider natural stone! It’s a natural winner in the search for a perfect green building material.
Using Stone in Your Sustainable Home Design
Writing for UseNaturalStone.com, Stephanie Vierra, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP BD+C of Vierra Design & Education Services, LLC explains, “If you are looking for a sustainable material to specify in a project that will save money, time and resources over the long-term, then natural stone should be your material of choice.”
Naturally sustainable, natural stone is a perfect green building material for environmentally friendly homes and homeowners. One of the oldest building materials ever employed by humans, natural stone is also one of the most durable. Ancient monuments like the pyramids of Egypt, the Parthenon in Greece and the Roman Coliseum prove that natural stone can stand even the toughest tests of time.
Natural stone is sourced regionally, and locally produced natural stone can be found in most regions in the US. This is an important factor when considering how to reduce both transportation costs and fuel usage required for shipping building materials. Vierra reports, “there are stone quarry sites within 500 miles of nearly any building site in the United States and Canada.”
Natural stone also requires very little energy to produce, due to modern quarry technologies and practices. No chemicals or gases are emitted from natural stone, and appealing natural surfaces and colors eliminate the need for VOC-emitting paints and toxic finishes used with many other building materials. It is also a natural insulator, which means that using natural stone can help reduce costs for heating and cooling your home.
Most natural stone products are easy and affordable to clean, with cleaners specifically made to meet sustainability standards, without toxic chemicals that pollute the environment. A wide range of environmentally friendly finishes and fabrication options are available to enhance the performance of natural stone, improving weather resistance, slip resistance, and wear and tear.
“Even if the stone is more expensive initially,” explains Vierra, “it will more than pay for itself and reduce future costs compared to other materials that need to be repaired or replaced frequently.”
Adding to all these great sustainability characteristics, natural stone can be reused time and time again. It is 100 percent recyclable, which means the use of water, energy and new raw material sources is all but eliminated when a construction project incorporates salvaged or recycled stone materials.
Local stone showrooms and stone fabricators often can provide help locating sources of stone scraps, manufacturing process byproducts and salvaged stones. Old stone buildings are often disassembled and the salvaged stones are recycled into retaining walls, paving materials, or even exterior facades for a new home. Small flat paving stones can easily be relaid in a new location, bringing a romantic, old-world sense of history that is far more appealing than the thought of hauling the stones off to a landfill.
“There Is No Project That Stone Cannot Enhance”
Deciding to use natural stone products in your new home or remodeling project can give you great satisfaction, knowing that this choice greatly improves your home’s sustainability.
Taking sustainability into consideration during the decision-making process is also a very wise eco-investment, helping to ensure an environmentally friendly future. And, with so many exciting applications, designing with natural stone works perfectly with any architectural style, building size and homeowner budget.
“Designers, architects and builders,” states Vierra, “have long known about and understood the timeless beauty and strength that stone offers.” Now, with new technologies expanding the applications for natural stone, many exciting new natural stone products have entered the marketplace. At the same time, with greater attention to sustainability practices, the stone industry has achieved significant improvements in manufacturing efficiency, waste reduction and product lifespan.
Vierra notes, “Homeowners as well as building owners have gained a greater interest and understanding of how these developments support their sustainability goals.”
From elegant kitchen countertops to dramatic marble flooring, from blazing backyard barbecues to charming outdoor benches, from impressive flagstone facades to fabulous front yard renovations, natural stone applications are as endless as your imagination. And, as Stephanie Vierra says, “there is no project that stone cannot enhance.”
Sustainability Is Beautiful and Durable With Natural Stone
Check out this great “Natural Stone Sustainability” YouTube Video by MIA+BSI.
“In the era of green building,” the producers state, “this video showcases to architects, designers, contractors and consumers how natural stone is the natural choice when it comes to sustainable building products.” Providing viewers with an overview of natural stone’s sustainability, this 6-minute video helps “clarify any misconceptions
about stone and sustainability, and provides valuable information for learning how to incorporate natural stone into commercial, institutional and residential projects.”
For more information on natural stone, visit www.usenaturalstone.com
*Thanks to MIA+BSI: The Natural Stone Institute for sponsoring this post.