The Natural Stone Council (NSC), a collaborative organization representing business and trade associations serving the natural stone industry, recently announced that the organization has made significant progress in its sustainability efforts in the first half of this year. Leveraging research conducted in conjunction with the Center for Clean Products (CCP) at the University of Tennessee, the NSC has developed and published several data-driven documents on its Web site as well as presented or been the topic of presentations at national and international conferences.

At May’s American Institute of Architects (AIA) convention in San Francisco, CA, CCP Director Jack Geibig presented a session titled “Use of Environmental Data in Materials Selection: A Case Study of the Use of Life-Cycle Data for Natural Stone.” The session highlighted the limitations and strengths of life-cycle data in evaluating building materials through a case study of natural stone. The natural stone case study, which involved the creation of robust life-cycle inventories for various dimensional stone products, illustrated the lack of quality of already existing data sets and the challenges for forward thinking industries and architects to properly evaluate products given the limitations and low quality of currently available life-cycle inventory data.

Geibig will be presenting at several other industry conferences this year, including GreenBuild, which will be held in Phoenix in November, using the research conducted in the natural stone industry as a foundation. Given the popularity of his AIA program, Geibig says his GreenBuild presentation will be life-cycle based and may also focus on data limitations. Geibig will also be speaking at Marmomacc, which will be held from September 30 to October 3 in Verona, Italy, and StonExpo, which will be held from October 22 to 24 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV.

“Recognizing that one of stone’s great assets is its long life, CCP and the NSC have developed life-cycle analyses for stone so that designers can assess the true environmental impact of their selections over time, and we are beginning to benchmark this information against other building materials as valid data sets are generated for those alternate materials,” said Geibig.

The NSC’s goal is to support the stone industry’s efforts to increase the preference for and consumption of Genuine Stone. By providing sound data and third party verification supporting the sustainability of stone versus other building materials and characterizing stone as a natural choice in green building, the NSC aims to support designers and architects in confidently selecting natural stone for their projects.

“The NSC has identified several key areas - both internal and external - to the stone industry, where a lack of credible information was hindering informed decision making by the design community,” said Tom Liebel, Associate Principal at Marks, Thomas Architects and a member of the NSC’s Sustainability Advisory Council. “Rather than merely paying lip service to the ‘fad’ of green building, the NSC is genuinely attempting to gauge their impact on the environment and to develop methods to reduce it.”

In addition to conference presentations, the NSC will also be working on a road-mapping process to chart key opportunities and challenges facing the natural stone industry in the immediate future, particularly with respect to sustainability. The NSC stresses that the success of the road-map process relies on the active involvement of professionals and companies throughout the industry. For those interested in participating or obtaining more details about the process as they become available, e-mail Amanda McKenna at CCP atAMcKenna@utk.

The NSC Committee on Sustainability consists of Chairman John Mattke (Cold Spring Granite Company), Alex Bachrach (Stone World Magazine), Bill Eubank (Luck Stone Corp.), Dan Ouellette (Luck Stone Corp.), Kathy Spanier (Cold Spring Granite Co.), Quade Weaver (TexaStone Quarries) and Garen Distelhorst (Marble Institute of America).