The concept of sustainability has entered almost every aspect of our life. We try to establish and grow our businesses in a sustainable manner, support local and international sustainability initiatives and naturally think of a sustainable architectural environment. In line with that, the ideas of green building and sustainable architecture have emerged.
Both ideas support the effort to build in a way that has a minimum negative impact on nature, using recyclable and renewable materials, while at the same time this reduces the construction costs. There are many sustainable materials that have entered the market in the last few years and offer innovative solutions. However, there is the ultimate sustainable material that has been in use for centuries now and has proven its qualities – natural stone. Let’s have a look at the options of sustainable building and why natural stone is one of the best options you can choose from.
Types of sustainable materials
When we are talking about sustainable materials, we need to differentiate between three main types depending on their usage. Thus, we have:
- Sustainable building materials – in this category we can include natural materials as stone and wood, as well as a great variety of newer solutions, such as sustainable concrete, solar tiles or wool bricks. The latter are developed by Spanish and Scottish researchers by adding wool and a special polymer extracted from seaweed to the brick clay. The bricks made in this way turn out to be extremely suitable for the wet weather in Britain.
- Sustainable isolation materials – the idea is to have completely reusable and recyclable materials, such as cellulose, which do not generate waste but are extremely efficient at the same time.
- Sustainable paints, wood treatment or sealants – the move here is towards natural substances that do not harm the ozone layer and don’t contain any chemical products.
The best way of all is to combine the three types of materials in order to achieve your ultimate goal of green building.
Why natural stone is sustainable?
Building in a sustainable and nature-friendly way requires some planning in advance and a few additional arrangements, however the pay-back in a long term is worth all the efforts. Besides, using natural stone is an easy way to stay in line with the idea of green building while at the same time have a beautiful and long-lasting final product. This is due to the intrinsic qualities of stones like marble, travertine, granite or limestone. In addition to that, the Natural Stone Council has developed a series of best practices concerning stone extraction, transportation and other activities that can help in achieving sustainability. It has also presented a few case studies and compiled a series of life-cycle datasets that promote the usage of natural stone. Here are the main ones.
Natural stone features
As a product of mother nature, stones are earth-friendly. Besides, they possess a series of qualities that make them a preferred material for both interior and exterior designs. The most important features of natural stone are:
- Long life-cycle
- Great variety of usage options
- Abundance of colours and shades
- Easy to maintain
When you combine all of the above with the fact that natural stone is abundant in nature, you can easily realize why it is such a preferred material. The best proof of natural stone qualities are the numerous buildings made of natural stone in ancient times that still amaze us with their glory: The Great Pyramids, The Coliseum, Taj Mahal, etc.
In addition to that most of the quarries of natural stone are in exploitation for centuries now and still there is sufficient stone to serve us for centuries to come. One such example are the famous Carrara marble quarries.
When the above-listed qualities of natural stone are combined with the best practices for their extraction and transportation, the desired effect of sustainability can be easily achieved. The following guidance documents were prepared by the Natural Stone Council to help the industry achieve its ultimate goal for green building and sustainable architecture in all its stages.
- Best Practice: Water Consumption, Treatment, and Reuse
- Best Practice: Site Maintenance and Quarry Closure
- Best Practice: Solid Waste Management
- Best Practice: Transportation
In addition to the best practices, the Natural Stone Council has developed a set of case studies, which outline different qualities and possible usage of natural stone.
- Case Study: Application of Green Building Certification Programs to Natural Stone
- Case Study: Durability of Stone Flooring in High Traffic Areas
- Case Study: The Use of Reclaimed Stone in Building Construction
- Case Study: Solar Reflectance of Natural Stone
All of the information above makes it easier to realize why natural stone tiles are the best solution both for large-scale and small projects at industrial or residential level.
4 main benefits of sustainable design
Sustainable design and the usage of natural stone for institutional, commercial and residential projects has many benefits for both the environment and the population as end users. All of the advantages can be combined into four main groups:
- Reduction of energy use by 245 to 50%
- Reduction of CO2 emissions by 33% to 39%
- Reduction of water usage by 40% on average
- Reduction of solid waste by the astonishing 70%
The integration of natural stone both for interior and exterior solutions not only helps for the achievement of the above-mentioned benefits but also adds beauty and longevity to the buildings. The good news is, that natural stone is not only a classic material but it is also cost-efficient. While in the past it was considered a luxurious and expensive option, now it is quite affordable. You can browse through a great range of natural stone tiles and check the sales offered in order to get the most suitable stone for your project.