Environmental Survey Offers Insight into Natural Stone

From on September 25, 2008 in Building Materials

Natural Stone Council

In an effort to promote the sustainability of natural stone products, the Natural Stone Council has released an environmental survey of the natural stone industry. The NSC, an organization made up of trade and business associations that promote Genuine Stone over synthetic materials, completed the survey to analyze quarries and processing operations and their impact on the life cycle of the materials that end up as your countertops, floors, and other applications in and out of the home.

The survey addressed all types of stone, including sandstone and marble, but was dominated by limestone and granite, the two leading sectors of the industry. The NSC received answers from over 40 companies comprising 64 quarries and 45 processing plants. They hope to advertise natural stone as an eco-friendly option for homeowners. Granite, our favorite countertop stone, has long been a topic of debate, for both its health and environmental impacts. But this survey hopes to garner an all-encompassing A-plus, or at least form a solid groundwork for getting there, for natural materials in the face of synthetic materials, such as recycled countertops, that carry a green label and have been popular in the green building movement.

There are several areas that the NSC survey focused on, including:

  1. Water consumption and reclamation
  2. Site maintenance
  3. Quarry closure
  4. Transportation distance of stone

The NSC has partnered with the Center for Clean Products at the University of Tennessee to analyze the lifecycle of its products. Now, with the completion of this Environmental Benchmarking Assessment Survey, the NSC has data in hand and plans to release several different reports regarding areas where the industry is both succeeding and in need of improvement. These will come in the form of best practices, material fact sheets, and case studies.

Genuine StoneIt’s nice to see another industry making an attempt at improving its environmental impact and further illustrates the power of the movement toward sustainable building practices. It is, however, impossible to call this an independent survey, so we’ll have to keep a close eye on the results and likely claims made by the industry. Still, this is a big step and promises to offer homeowners a good resource when making ever-important decisions about their remodels. The first versions of the initial life-cycle data on the variety of natural stones are available at GenuineStone.com.