(reproduced with permission from the Natural Stone Council)
The most significant and exciting development in the construction industry over the past decade is green, sustainable building. In 1998, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)—the nation’s leading coalition on sustainable building—established the LEED® Green Building Rating System™. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) is the most widely used rating system for green building. This system defines standards for environmentally responsible, healthier, and more profitable structures, and awards points to new construction and major renovation projects in five categories:
- Sustainable Sites
- Water Efficiency
- Energy & Atmosphere
- Materials & Resources
Indoor Environmental Quality
Right now, new commercial building construction that uses natural stone regional to a project or uses salvaged or reclaimed stone are the most common ways stone contributes to LEED points under the Materials & Resources section.
Why Build Green?
Constructing buildings in an environmentally-considerate way requires careful thought and planning. However, the payback from a green building far outweighs this price. Conventional building practices consume large quantities of energy and water, while generating excessive air emissions and waste streams; these impacts are also caused by product manufacturing. Moreover, indoor air quality can be impaired when unhealthy building materials are employed.
Implementing green building techniques reduces impacts on the environment and human health during both construction and operation of a structure, as well as during production of building materials. If this harm is not reason enough to build responsibly, consider the financial aspect. Resource consumption and medical care can become expensive for the builder, the material manufacturer, and the employer of those working in the structure.
In order to decrease costs and to be good stewards of the earth, the Natural Stone Council (NSC) has invested much time in determining how to best represent the stone industry in the green building arena. We have now come to the table to actively participate in these discussions.
The Natural Stone Council aims to further position Genuine Stone® as the preferred sustainable building material by:
- Using the five key LEED® rating system categories as a guide to credibly and transparently substantiate that stone is a natural choice in building green
- Transparently communicating the environmental benefits of Genuine Stone use as found from extensive research by a third party
- Working with an advisory council consisting of leading green architects, designers, and specification writers with intimate knowledge of Genuine Stone and its uses in building and landscaping
In its truest form, green building is a two-prong strategy. First, the construction materials must have an environmentally preferable profile over their life cycle, from raw material extraction through the use phase and finally at the end of its application. Second, the methods used to construct the
building must be environmentally considerate. LEED is based on upholding these canons, and the NSC is working to credibly substantiate that using Genuine Stone aids in this objective.
We can especially do our part to contribute to responsible building by providing materials that have been quarried and processed in an environmentally-conscious manner. Further, we are exploring the implications of natural stone application during the use phase and beyond, particularly with regard to durability, solar reflectance, and salvage and reuse. This work addresses the entire life-cycle of Genuine Stone, substantiating on a holistic level the position of natural stone as a green building material.