When the green building movement first appeared, the focus for sustainable building materials was primarily on recycled content and renewable resources. Today product sustainability has evolved and project teams are now looking at the entire process of getting a product to market. This includes how the raw materials are extracted, what chemicals are used in production and manufacturing, how it’s brought to the market, and an understanding of its life cycle.
Why is Stone an Important Resource?
Natural stone is a natural product of the Earth, created over millions of years without any chemical additives. It is the original eco-friendly building material. In abundant supply, natural stone is one of the most durable materials available. Granite’s durability and low maintenance also enhances its efficient life cycle cost. It offers a vast array of colors, textures, veining and more, making it ideal for a wide range of applications. In addition to its superior durability, when compared to many other products such as concrete or composites, natural stone requires minimal processing and is locally available in many markets. In essence, a project that uses stone is simply borrowing it from the earth. At the end of its long life cycle, stone can be returned to the earth where it began.
Sustainable Production of Natural Stone
The overall environmental impact of natural stone production depends on how natural stone building materials are quarried, processed, transported and used. While some may confuse dimension stone quarrying operations with mineral mining, the processes are quite different. Touring a dimension stone quarry is one of the best ways you can experience first-hand, the respect and care that is used extracting stone from the earth in a dimension stone operation. Diamond wire saws being the most common extraction method in many modern quarry operations today, creates minimal impact to the source keeping the stone in-tact through the extraction process.
Since practices can vary widely depending on the stone supplier, knowing if the natural stone is extracted responsibly should be considered by designers when choosing a natural stone quarrier. The manufacturing process it goes through, and whether the supply chain is ethical, should also be considered when selecting a natural stone fabricator.
As a quarrier and fabricator of natural dimension stone, by fully controlling the source, we can state with certainty that our stone products are extracted and processed responsibly. Coldspring was among the first in the natural stone industry to begin working on the industry’s first third-party verified sustainability standard. This certification ensures architects and owners that the stone for their buildings is produced in an economic, environmental and socially responsible manner.
The Reclamation of Quarries
Natural stone’s certification program also dispels a common myth that the extraction process for stone involves stripping the earth and leaving it devoid of resources. With most responsible quarriers, when a quarry reaches the end of its lifespan, a reclamation plan is enacted to ensure the quarry is left in a better place than it was before. Quarries certified to the Natural Stone Sustainability standard clearly document their reclamation plans, and are one way design teams can ensure this is in place with the stone they are specifying. Coldspring is proud to have a reclamation plan in place for each quarry that we operate.
Specifying Sustainable Materials
It is also important to be specific when writing specifications with sustainable stone in mind. Establishing clear and concise project goals with the owner and writing precise specifications can help ensure your goals are met. When designers specify certified stone, they can be certain it aligns with the sustainability goals of their project and contributes to credits in the Material and Resources sections of green building programs. Certified stone that has been approved and vetted by a third-party is one of the many materials designers can select with confidence that the source is sustainable. Learn more in our free E-book.
A Commitment to Sustainable Sourcing
While Coldspring is known as one of the largest natural stone manufacturers and suppliers in North America, we are firmly committed to being the greenest stone manufacturer in the world.
Building on a long-standing commitment to establishing and promoting industry-wide best practices that treat the source of our products (the earth) with respect, Coldspring is dedicated to developing and maintaining resource management and processing practices that minimize our impact on the environment. With quarries, plant facilities and sales offices located across the country to stay responsive to our customers and help them buy regionally, this is one company that is truly made in America. We work hard every day to promote and expand sustainable business practices.
To learn more about how Coldspring can help design teams achieve sustainability goals with natural stone, visit our sustainability resources online or download our free e-book “Specifying Sustainable Stone: A Guide to Helping Owners Get What They Want.”