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With the rapid growth of the green building movement, it is important to recognize the inherent environmental advantages of natural stone. Genuine stone is found in nature and is low maintenance and extremely durable. It may also be reused in a multitude of applications, such as landscaping, gravel fill and as aggregate for concrete mixtures. These characteristics may allow stone to contribute to sustainable design projects and green building certifications.
The case study highlights the two predominant certification programs in the U.S. currently -- the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC), Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and the Sustainable Project Rating Tool (SPiRiT), developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Under LEED guidelines, natural stone may contribute to certification in several categories including Sustainable Sites (SS), Energy and Atmosphere (EA), Materials and Resources (MR) and Innovation and Design (ID). SPiRiT is based on LEED 2.0, and it is tailored to Army-specific needs allowing them to create and maintain sustainable facilities.
This first case study provides two examples of projects using natural stone that received certification from LEED and SPiRiT respectively. ImaginOn in Charlotte, NC, received silver rating and is the first USGBC LEED-certified public building in Charlotte. Stone cladding used in the project helped contribute to a LEED MR credit. A SPiRiT bronze rating was awarded to Jefferson Hall Library and Learning Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in West Point, NY. Natural stone was a key element in the design. Stone, including more than 130 tons of granite, was quarried regionally and contributed to the bronze certification.
"The NSC has worked diligently to gather accurate data in order to characterize the environmental impacts of natural stone," said John Mattke, NSC Sustainability Committee Chairman. "We are now in a position to share what we've learned with the design and building communities -- as evidenced by this case study and to highlight stone's positive attributes as a green building material."
In partnership with The University of Tennessee (UT) Center for Clean Products, the NSC is conducting a life-cycle assessment to credibly evaluate the environmental footprint of natural stone industry operations. The results will allow the comparison of natural stone with competing building materials in order to validate the environmental advantages that stone has over other products. Information garnered from this research as well as further qualitative investigation will be shared through a series of best practice documents, materials fact sheets and additional case studies. More information on the NSC's research and results, including a link to this case study and all other publications, may be found at http://www.genuinestone.com/env_researchandresults.php. The second case study regarding natural stone flooring will be available in December.