The Natural Stone Council (NSC) has given long-term budget approval to participate in and raise awareness of the environmentally friendly “Green Building Movement,” said John Mattke, chairman of NSC's Committee on Sustainability.

“Stone is a natural product, and we felt that it would be important for the Natural Stone Council, as representatives of the industry, to do all we can to help educate and promote stone as an environmentally-friendly building and landscape material,” said Mattke, who is President and COO of Cold Spring Granite Co. “Real stone, the world's oldest building material, is enjoying unprecedented growth in both the residential and commercial segments.”

Mattke said natural stone offers a range of environmentally friendly qualities for building and design, including:
  • natural product
  • an enduring life cycle
  • ease of care and maintenance
  • recyclability
  • quarry and manufacturing best practices

The short - and long-term goals of the NSC are to provide documented, factual information on the overall benefits of natural stone and position natural stone as a material that supports green awareness, initiatives and certifications. A major component of the program will be promotion and education aimed at both the natural stone, design, construction and landscape industries.

The NSC also joined the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) of Washington DC, formed in 1993 with the goal of advancing more sustainable building practices. The USGBC, which now numbers over 7,000 member organizations, has developed a rating system called LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design. LEED is a voluntary national standard and certification program, which defines high-performance green buildings. The wide-ranging membership of USGBC includes architects, engineers, designers, consultants, contractors, builders, product manufacturers, non-profit and environmental organizations.

Mattke explained that until Fall 2005, trade associations were unable to join the USGBC, and thus were unable to provide the kind of support materials that helped position the products they represent as worthy of “green” consideration. Since then, nearly three dozen construction and materials related associations have joined the organization.

In addition, the NSC committee is organizing an advisory council made up of architects, designers, specification writers and others with an intimate knowledge of natural stone and its uses in building and landscaping, Mattke said.

Finally, NSC will undertake testing and research to support and increase Natural Stone's contribution to LEED Certification points. Some examples of “green” testing opportunities include life cycle assessment, life cycle cost and reclamation activities and benefits. Other members of the NSC Committee on Sustainability include Kathy Spanier, also of Cold Spring Granite Co., Quade Weaver of TexaStone Quarries, Dan Ouellette and Bill Eubank of Luck Stone Corp. and Alex Bachrach ofStone WorldMagazine.

According to Duke Pointer, executive director of the Natural Stone Council and member representative to the USGBC, the organization was formed in 2003 to promote the value and unique benefits of real natural stone and to design and implement solutions to the marketplace misconceptions about natural versus engineered stone. “NSC is made up of a diverse group of stone industry businesses and trade associations,” Pointer said. “Participation in the green movement is right in line with the Council's mission to raise the level of awareness and education of natural stone in the North American market.”