Modern building materials that dominate commercial and residential building markets are often full of chemicals, plastics, and other harmful substances. And yet, we continue using them, in spite of the global outcry over climate change.
Even those building materials that boast of how recyclable they are may end up in a landfill. After all, have you ever seen a demolition crew neatly separate and sort its debris?
And even if those building materials were commonly recycled, recycling still has an end-game that includes waste leading to the landfill, where it breaks down into a sea of pollutants that leech into the surrounding environment.
The reality is that it’s time to stop passing the buck on climate change, and both commercial and home builders need to consider truly environmentally-friendly building materials, like natural stone.
Benefits of Natural Stone as a Building Material
We keep looking forward to the next miracle material, when the solution has been in front of us for centuries.
1. Natural Stone (Almost) Lasts Forever
In today’s litigious world, we wouldn’t want to say that natural stone will last forever –although there’s enough evidence to support the claim that it could.
It was the durability, endurance, and engineering flexibility of using natural stone building materials that allowed so many ancient landmarks to stand the test of time. The Great Pyramids of Egypt, Machu Picchu, and the Mayan city of Tikal are just a handful of examples.
2. No Synthetic Ingredients in Natural Stone
It comes from the earth, and can be used in its unadulterated form. Some popular examples of natural stone building materials include natural stone tiles for walls or natural stone flooring tiles, sandstone floor tiles, or even large building edifices, pillars, and the like — entirely produced from natural stone!
3. Natural Stone is Affordable Again
Natural stone once had a reputation for being expensive — but that is changing rapidly with new developments in its procurement process.
Efficiencies have been gained through effective use of modern technologies, and quite often natural stone can be sourced locally, which also helps to bring down its cost.
4. Lower Environmental Impact from Natural Stone
Over the years, natural stone quarries have been reclaimed much faster and more efficiently, new technologies have prevented unnecessary environmental damage, and in many cases, quarries have been replaced with modern mining techniques that have less impact on their surrounding landscape.
Further to this, natural stone’s density has energy-saving benefits, and it creates fewer kilograms of CO2 per ton than general concrete, slate, timber, or steel.
5. Natural Stone Can Be Salvaged, Reused, and Recycled
As noted earlier, recycling isn’t a solution for most materials, it’s a band aid to a larger problem. In some cases, it’s more ‘greenwashing‘ than anything — clever marketing to make the wrong choice feel easier to make.
However, when you recycle natural stone, it’s still stone. It can be recycled many more times than plastic, too. Unlike plastics or other harmful materials, stone won’t hurt the earth when it returns to it.
Additionally, natural stone has been salvaged from buildings hundreds or thousands of years old and reused in modern buildings — structural integrity intact.
6. Natural Stone Requires Little or No Maintenance
As a result of natural stone being so durable, it will rarely ever need maintenance work. Often, the only real maintenance natural stone may need from time to time is a power washing to clean it of surrounding environmental pollution. However, in these cases, less porous stone veneers can even make this form of natural stone maintenance unnecessary for longer periods of time.
7. Natural Stone is Consistent Through Temperature Changes
Wood, metal, and cement all experience some form of expansion or contraction throughout seasonal temperature changes. These changes even have the potential to damage or warp these materials, whereas natural stone can remain consistent, even in the most extreme temperature changes.
8. Natural Stone for Social Responsibility and Green Standards
With greater public demand for social responsibility and green certification standards, natural stone’s social acceptability will stand as long as the material does itself.
Choosing to work with natural stone over heavier polluting building materials puts institutions, businesses and home owners on the right side of history.
9. Natural Stone Government Initiatives
Many governments are making it easier to choose natural stone by offering rebates, tax breaks, and other benefits for choosing environmentally friendly building materials on contemporary building projects.
10. Natural Stone is Beautiful
Natural Stone doesn’t need to look like it came right out of the Flintstones; natural stone can be used to create complex building designs — and it’s gorgeous.
Natural stone reconnects nearby human traffic with nature in ways that polypropylene or stucco walls never will.
If you haven’t considered natural stone for your next building project, we hope that we’ve planted the seed. This post was prompted by our friends at The Natural Stone Institute, a joint effort by MIA+BSI.
Feel free to visit their website to learn more about the building applications of natural stone.
Have anything to add? Tweet us @greenerideal and let us know!