Natural stone is a sustainable and durable material that ages gracefully. With its low life cycle cost and low CO2-emissions, it is very suitable for creating architecture that will last. Let’s look a bit closer on what makes natural stone sustainable, what makes style timeless and how to reduce life cycle costs.
Why is natural stone more sustainable than other materials?
Reducing energy demand and CO2 emissions is more important now than ever. And because the construction industry makes a major contribution to global CO2 emissions and energy consumption, construction products should have the lowest possible environmental impact. In a German comparison between different flooring materials, it becomes clear that natural stone is by far more sustainable than other materials.
The study concludes that the costs of energy consumption for processing natural stone are a mere 3,3% of the production value. A comparison of all floor coverings showed that those produced from natural stone cause a significantly lower environmental impact in their production, installation, and use than large-format ceramics, PVC, laminates, and hardwood flooring.
How to create architecture that lasts a thousand years
Long-lasting architecture is about timeless style and strong, sustainable materials. But it’s also about using materials that get more beautiful as they age.
To create a style that lasts one must understand how our perception works. Though rules of the visual organization are not an exact science, they are easily identifiable in our built and natural environment. We can easily identify that repetition and pattern in buildings provide a sense of order which our eyes naturally recognize. Studying the work of the ancients, which could be argued as having a timeless quality, it is clear that a certain visual order has been exploited.
But it’s not just our visual experience of a building that makes it timeless or not. Architecture must provide space for the most fundamental habits of human life, habits which are constant, like the need for social interaction. Historically marketplaces are an example of the combination of working and personal life.
Sustainable materials are also a part of a timeless style. Materials that can withstand time and age in a way that just gives them more refinement. Maybe that’s why many buildings that are timeless features parts that are made of natural stone.
Reduce life cycle costs with natural stone
Architects often consider natural stone to be an expensive material, which has also given it an air of exclusivity. But although it surely looks exclusive, it’s actually quite inexpensive in the long run. If you take future maintenance costs and reparations int to account, the life cycle cost (LCC) is very competitive. Value in stone can only be fairly demonstrated on an LCC basis. The (relatively high) initial cost, if not considered against the full life term or the very low maintenance costs over that long life, makes the stone appear very expensive in a short-term view.
Masonry structures are extremely durable and require very little maintenance over their lifetimes. Such maintenance typically involves periodic repointing, surface repair, and stone replacements of individual units as required.
Used as cladding it also can reduce the need for heating. Research has found that with the black radiation emanating from stone, coupled with the slow changes in internal temperature relative to the external environment, lower temperatures are found tolerable in terms of thermal comfort.
DOWNLOAD OUR INFOGRAPHIC
Download the infographic “8 sustainable reasons why you should choose natural stone”. Click the image to go to the download page.