The main factor when discussing sustainability is energy consumption. Natural building materials, like real stone, have a unique property that allows them to absorb and hold thermal energy. This means that during the winter, a house built with a stone façade will hold the heat it generates and use less electricity, while other building materials will wastefully dissipate the energy.
Natural stone is a heterogeneous mixture of minerals formed by pressure over millions of years and it will be here for millions of years to come. This innate durability means stone structures are less likely to need replacing and require less maintenance, which are two huge factors in sustainability. Historical cultures renowned for their architecture used natural stone as a staple in their buildings. Ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman architects all used natural stone and many of their creations are still standing today. The pristine durability of natural stone means it will not fade over time and, in fact, only improves with weathering.
In a world swamped with plastics, laminates, and other fabricated materials – which are manufactured with energy guzzling processes - natural stone simply needs to be:
The most carbon intensive step in the process is the transportation, and shopping for stone locally can greatly reduce the transportation emissions. Compared to other materials, natural stone produces fewer carbon emissions during processing as well making stone the ideal eco choice.
Off-gassing occurs when new manufactured items and fabricated building materials expel volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These VOCs can cause a number of health effects, including eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, loss of coordination (nausea), and damage to the liver, kidney, and central nervous system. On top of the health issues, they also contribute to the formation of Tropospheric ozone and smog.
An example of a building material that produces a lot of VOCs is concrete. When the temperature increases, the air and moisture vapour trapped inside of concrete heats up and expands. This release large amounts of VOCs into the air.
Natural building materials that are not chemically treated do not contribute to off-gassing. Although these days it is impossible to completely avoid VOCs, it is best to minimize their affects.
When discussing natural stone’s role in architecture and landscaping, keep these points in mind. Stone’s natural energy efficiency, durability, and low carbon footprint are all reasons it should be incorporated into any new building project. Citadel Stone invites you to deploy the superior sustainability characteristics of natural stone and reach out to us if you want to learn more. We are ready to look at your specific project, and assist with our options and make recommendations.
Kelsey Regan is an advisor of Citadel Stone. He is passionate about providing the world community with bespoke, environmentally conscious building material. He is a father to a Cairn Terrier and calls Port Moody, British Columbia home.