The Data's In: Natural Stone is Sustainable
Our industry has told natural stone’s sustainability story for years. We’ve highlighted the inherent attributes of stone that make it a sustainable choice, including its durability, and the fact that it contains no VOCs or added ingredients.
Through the Natural Stone Sustainability Standard, companies stepped up to show their commitment to sustainable quarrying and fabrication practices. However, without specific data, our messages often met with hesitation and disbelief by many professionals in the design/build world.
This changed with the Natural Stone Institute’s publication of three industry-wide Environmental Product Declarations, or EPDs, last fall.
To help quantify the embodied carbon of natural stone, the disclosures include cradle-to-grave life-cycle impacts for cladding, flooring, and countertops.
Our results show that natural stone has a lower global-warming impact and lower embodied carbon than many man-made materials, including precast concrete, terrazzo, and engineered stone.
Aquatic Center 241 m² Exterior Cladding Comparison per m2: Natural Stone GWP: 21.4 kg CO₂ eq Precast Concrete GWP: 62.3 kg CO₂ eq Total Project Impacts: Natural Stone: 5,157 kg CO₂ eq Precast Concrete: 15,014 kg CO₂ eq Embodied Carbon Savings with Natural Stone: 9.9 metric tons CO₂ eq
Museum 1,200 m² Flooring Comparison per m2: Natural Stone GWP: 22.0 kg CO₂ eq Terrazzo GWP: 82.2 kg CO₂ eq Total Project Impacts: Natural Stone: 28,600 kg CO₂ eq Terrazzo: 106,860 kg CO₂ eq Embodied Carbon Savings with Natural Stone: 78.3 metric tons CO₂ eq
Hotel w/300 Guest Rooms 585 m² Countertops Comparison per m2: Natural Stone GWP: 46.8 kg CO₂ eq Engineered Quartz GWP: 102.6 kg CO₂ eq Total Project Impacts: Natural Stone: 27,378 kg CO₂ eq Engineered Quartz: 60,021 kg CO₂ eq Embodied Carbon Savings with Natural Stone: 32.6 metric tons CO₂ eq
The NSI Sustainability Committee is preparing a promotional campaign that will utilize the datasets provided in the EPDs, combined with reminders about natural stone’s inherent attributes to position it as a solution to common green-building goals. As graphics and video are developed and shared, we encourage stone companies to utilize the resources in their own marketing efforts to further advance awareness about this topic in every market.
To sign up for the sustainability email list, learn more about our embodied carbon research, and find information about other sustainability efforts, visit naturalstoneinstitute.org/sustainability.
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