All human activities impact the environment, often in devastating ways. As we continually see evidence of our negative effects on the planet, finding “greener” ways to live has never been more important. If you are starting a bathroom or kitchen design project, you may be wondering, is natural stone sustainable? In this post, the experts at Cosmos SurfacesTM talk about sustainability in the natural stone industry.
Is Natural Stone Sustainable?
The good news is natural stone is the most sustainable building material available! Owing to its natural origin, durability and ease of maintenance, natural stone can be a great help in reducing a building’s impact on the environment. Read on to find out more about the concept of “green building” and how natural stone factors in.
What is Green Building?
Green building refers to a design process that takes sustainability into account. This approach focuses on reducing waste and increasing efficiency of resource use (such as energy, water and building materials). Additionally, green building aims to reduce a building’s long-term impact on the health of its occupants and the environment, and accounts for every step of the building process––from site-selection and design to construction, operation and maintenance. Lastly, the concept of green building looks ahead, ensuring the eventual removal or disposal of building materials can be done in an environmentally responsible way.
Natural Stone Production
Natural stone comes directly from the Earth. It does not require factory production, which often involves the need to bond materials together with petroleum-based resins. Furthermore, nearly 100% of natural stone from deconstructed projects can be recycled for use on other projects or crushed for use in constructions like roadbeds.
Durability of Natural Stone
Durability is one of the biggest factors making natural stone a sustainable choice. From the Egyptian pyramids to the Parthenon, the evidence is clear––natural stone can last through the ages. This means the natural stone countertops, flooring, walling and other surfaces in your home are a lifelong investment––with proper care and maintenance, natural stone surfaces can last for generations. There will be no need to expend energy and resources on replacing your surfaces.
Reducing the Heat Island Effect
“Heat Island” refers to the way a building can raise the average temperature of the surrounding area. Light-colored varieties of natural stone have the ability to reflect heat, rather than absorb and radiate it, which helps reduce a building’s potential to become a “heat island.”
Maintenance is yet another way in which natural stone asserts itself as an eco-friendly building material. Simple, regular maintenance goes a long way in increasing a stone’s longevity, and these surfaces can often be cleaned with a mild, Ph-neutral dish detergent, rather than harsh cleaners that can make their way into our soil or water sources.
Quarrying and Location
Over the last two decades, the practice of quarrying has made significant strides in improving best practices related to the environment. Today, domestic quarries are required to adhere to strict guidelines, with close oversight by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (among other organizations). Many quarries currently active in the US, Canada and Europe have reclamation plans in place for quarry sites when operations are finished, and countless old quarries have been turned into state parks, lakes and other kinds of recreation areas.
Stone quarry sites are typically available within 500 miles of nearly any building site in the US. This makes it easier to invest in locally sourced materials, reducing greenhouse gas emissions during transportation and supporting local economies.
Natural Stone Surfaces in the Home
Natural stone can be used in the home in a multitude of ways, including:
- Kitchen countertops
- Bathroom vanities
- Fireplaces and mantels
- Bar top
- Tub Surrounds
- Outdoor walkways and patios
Work with Cosmos!
Whether you’re interested in granite, marble, quartzite, schist, onyx or soap stone, Cosmos SurfacesTM offers a range of eco-friendly natural stone options to satisfy any design style. Our guide on how to choose a natural stone fabricator offers insight on how to find a reputable company to work with, and you can take sustainability one step further with our post on how to use natural stone remnants around the home.
Cosmos brings decades of knowledge and industry experience to the table. As a 2nd generation, family-owned business, our team is passionate about connecting North American businesses and consumers to exceptional materials in a way that is respectful to local communities and the environment. Get in touch by filling out our contact form today!
Color of the Month: Ash
This month’s featured trending color is Pantone 16-3802, Ash! The Pantone Color Trend Report says, “Solid and strong, eternally timeless Ash conveys a message of longevity.”
Flowing rivers of a variety of greys is why this Brazilian marble earned its name, Grey Imperiale. A myriad of shades of grey layer together to create a beautifully mellow but surprisingly textured material. Grey Imperiale’s simplicity makes it a versatile choice for any space, and the spectrum of greys pairs well with darker colors.