Of all the numerous types of countertop materials available, natural stone is considered one of the most sustainable or eco-friendly options multifamily developers can choose. Here are the top five reasons why natural stone is a sustainable choice for countertops.
- Stone is a natural material. Stone is a natural product of the Earth, the original green building material. It does not require other materials or resources to create it. There is an abundant supply with different veining, textures, colors, shapes and technical characteristics that make it possible for stone to be used in a wide range of applications. Natural stone contains no harmful chemicals or toxins. Stone is also available regionally and locally. Regionally manufactured and extracted materials reduce environmental impacts by reducing greenhouse gas emissions during transportation.
- Stone is durable. Stone stands the test of time, which means the choice to use natural stone will only enhance the value of your home while reducing the need to replace materials over a longer period of time. Stones such as slate, limestone, travertine and granite will all age beautifully and gracefully, providing years of use and enjoyment. Stone can easily stand up to high traffic in areas such as courtyards, foyers, kitchens and baths and may be designed to last for 50 or even 100 years.
- Stone offers ease of care and maintenance. If maintained properly, stone will last for years. There are a wide range of fabrication options and finishes that can be applied to natural stone that will also enhance its performance, including extending its life, resisting weather and wear and tear, or making the stone more slip resistant. Most stones can simply be cleaned with a mild dish soap and water.
- Stone is recyclable. Stone is recyclable and has the potential to serve many different uses and purposes over its lifetime. Salvaging and recycling stone is a viable option and a sustainable way to ensure that the useful life of the material will be lived out to its fullest. Environmentally, utilizing recycled stone can eliminate the energy, water, and other resources needed to generate new products from virgin or raw material sources, ultimately reducing or avoiding impacts to ecosystems and resource supplies.
- Stone is quarried and manufactured sustainably. Advancements in technology, including improved methods of quarrying, extraction, and fabrication have led to increased options and reduced costs of stone products, making natural stone easier to use and more desirable than ever before. Conserving resources, preventing pollution, and minimizing waste are some ways the stone industry is working to be eco-friendly through practices that support sustainable design requirements.
James A. Hieb, CAE, is the CEO of the Marble Institute of America (MIA). He also authored book titled Sandstone Center of the World. The MIA+BSI or the Natural Stone Institute serves more than 1,900 members in 55 countries who represent every aspect of the natural stone industry, offering them a wide array of technical and training resources, professional development, regulatory advocacy, and networking events. Two prominent publications—the Dimension Stone Design Manual and Building Stone Magazine—raise awareness in both the industry and the design communities for the promotion and best use of natural stone. Visit www.naturalstoneinstitute.org.