27 Jan 2020

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. So it’s no coincidence that we, as a leading company in the natural stone industry, have a vision that says “A more sustainable, beautiful world”.

No material is more sustainable than natural stone

The study “Nachhaltigkeitsstudie – Ökobilanz von Bodenbelägen“ (Sustainability study – Life-cycle Assessment of Floor Coverings)  made by the German Bundesverband Baustoffe – Steine und Erden (Federal Construction Materials Association – No-metals) is a scientifically based compilation of data which assesses the ecological repercussions of using natural stone, large ceramic tile, PVC, laminate, and hardwood flooring. The ecological impact of a load-bearing structure comprising a concrete base, insulation layers and screed for the different floor coverings, including the necessary mortar, was studied in a life-cycle screening procedure that spans 50 years of use for public surfaces with high traffic.

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.

Lowest global warming potential

In the category of global warming potential (GWP) impact, the production and utilization of floor coverings using natural stone tiles, display significantly lower CO2 equivalents than the production and use of other covering materials. At 10,9 kilograms CO2 equivalent, the lowest emissions are attributed to the GWP of natural stone tiles. The GWP of carpet is with a value of approx. 223 kilograms CO2 equivalent, more than 20 times higher than for natural stone tile.

 

Better than other slabs

When investigating coverings used for the highest performance floors, it was found that equivalence values for natural stone slabs are lower in all impact categories compared with terrazzo tiles. For example, the GWP of a natural stone slab is about 27% lower than that of a terrazzo tile and about 74% less than that of large-format ceramics.

Local stone is better

The influence of transport is another important aspect. While only 0,16 kilograms CO2 equivalent is produced using local natural stone (100 km lorry transport), this increases to 3,2 kilograms CO2 equivalent in the case of transport within Europe (2000 km lorry transport) and 7,9 kilograms CO2 equivalent per square meter of flooring for natural stone from China (18 600 km by ship, 150 km by lorry and 200 km rail transport)

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

Interested in learning more? Download the infographic “8 sustainable reasons why you should choose natural stone”

Ladda ned infographic

ByEric Lundmark
Tags: architecture sustainability
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