26 Jan 2020

Reduce life cycle costs with natural stone

As a company that has been in the business of natural stone for almost a hundred years, we know that 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 is very competitive.

How do you determine the life cycle cost of natural stone?

Life cycle cost analysis (LCCA) is a method for calculating the total cost of ownership. It takes into account all the costs of acquiring, owning, and disposing of building material. LCCA is especially useful when material alternatives that fulfill the same performance requirements but differ with respect to initial costs and maintenance costs, have to be compared in order to select the one that maximizes net savings.

LCCA helps you determine whether the use of natural stone as exterior cladding, which may increase initial cost but result in dramatically reduced maintenance costs, is cost-effective or not.

Life cycle cost analysis in three steps

The earlier the LCCA is performed, the better the result. In the design stage it is easier to make changes to what building materials you should use. And the more options you have, the more value you can get from your LCC analysis.

1. First, make a structured cost analysis so you can see what cost sources influence your total cost of ownership the most.

2. Then you can test different solutions for the existing objectives.

3. When you know your alternatives, you can compare their benefits and relocate the costs to gain maximum value out of your building material.

The understanding of life cycle costs can reduce the total cost of building ownership. LCC allows you to find the most optimal costing solution for your building materials, to compare alternative materials, and to choose the one that will boost your project’s value.

Life cycle cost analysis of natural stone

As A. Klemm and D. Wiggins write in Sustainability of Construction Materials (Second Edition), 2016, 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. As with buildings of any construction form, the roof requires routine maintenance.

Reduces need for external heating

Klemm and D. Wiggins also notes that the temperature difference between internal and external environments, together with the thermal characteristics of the envelope cladding, dictate the operational space heating demand for a given building configuration. To compare different building materials, it is convenient to set the building configuration and temperature gradient constant and compare U-values of different claddings. However, research has found that with the black radiation emanating from stone, coupled with the slow changes in internal temperature relative to the external environment, on the whole, lower temperatures are found tolerable in terms of thermal comfort, relative to other forms of construction (Hutton and Roston, 1997; Athienitis and Santamouris, 2002).

Natural stone has a low life cycle cost

The BRE’s Green Guide collates a breadth of building materials and building configurations, to allow this cross-comparison. It contains inherent idealizations, notably the 60-year design life assumed. The short-term design life of buildings is now recognized as unsustainable, and a recent drive for longer design lives proposed 200 years (BRE, 2006). The Green Guide underplays the sustainability credentials of natural stone (Yates and Bourke, 2005).

Such idealizations serve to disadvantage stone against other building materials.

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. An LCC appraisal also recognizes the reclaimability of natural stone, which retains intrinsic value, and for which there is a strong market demand (Wilson, 2005).

If you want to know more about natural stone, sustainability and how it can benefit your next project, don’t hesitate to contact us. We extract natural stone at 13 quarries in Sweden and Norway. Altogether we sell more than 80,000 tonnes of block stone every year, the majority of which is exported around the world.

For us, quality is not only about grading our stone blocks and taking responsibility for any anomalies. It’s just as much about how we extract our stone, the health and safety at our quarries, and the service and flexibility our customers are entitled to expect.

> Read more about natural stone and sustainability

Download our infographic

Interested in learning more? Download the infographic “8 sustainable reasons why you should choose natural stone”. Click the image to go to the download page. 

Ladda ned infographic

ByEric Lundmark
Tags: architecture sustainability
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