As a collaboration of stone industry businesses and trade associations, the Natural Stone Council continues to promote the use of natural stone in commercial and residential applications. By pooling resources under the “Genuine Stone” brand name and logo, the organization’s goal is to increase the understanding of, preference for and consumption of natural stone.

The organization is working to establish an ANSI Dimensional Stone Standard for Sustainability, and a progress report was presented earlier this year by Jack Geibig, President of Ecoform, which is working on the project.

Standard Development Activities

Development of the standard has been underway, and continues in earnest. In the current phase, the stakeholders have been divided into work groups and sub-groups focused on scoping issues relevant to the standard and then developing draft criteria around the various issues. Primary work groups have been established for both processing and quarry operations. Sub-groups have been formed around the topics of water, energy, social responsibility and transportation to name a few.

Some of the issues currently being deliberated on by the various groups include the following:

• Stakeholders in the energy subgroups are looking into the approach and criteria used in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Energy Star program are applicable and appropriate as guidance for the energy criteria in stone manufacturing. How best to include the energy consumption from corporate operations is also being considered.

• The EPA SmartWay program has been under review as a possible model for the development of criteria around transportation. The program is a voluntary initiative that deals with the carbon footprint and other emissions resulting from air, land and water transport of goods.

• A variety of issues have been introduced and are being considered for social responsibility, including the concept of transparency in public reporting of key performance and safety data. Such reporting is being considered for an optional credit under the standard, though there is disagreement over whether such reporting is necessary. Strong social responsibility criteria will be necessary for the standard to adequately address the various conditions of international production.

Development of the standard is anticipated to take 18 to 24 months — based on the time taken for similar standards — and may vary depending on a variety of factors. Work on the standard began in earnest in November 2010, with the first draft of the standard expected by January, 2012. An in-person stakeholder meeting took place in August to pull all of the criteria together into one cohesive document.

Other initiatives

Over the course of 2011, the NSC has taken a number of initiatives. The following is a timeline:

January 2011

Annual meeting and election of Officers/Board of Directors

Chairperson — Brenda Edwards, TexaStone Quarries, Garden City, TX (BSI)

Vice Chairperson — Harry Triebe, Sonny and Sons Stone Co., Downsville, NY (New York Bluestone Association)

Treasurer — Jim Owens, Technical Director, Indiana Limestone Institute, Bedford, IN

Secretary — Jane Bennett, Executive Vice President, Building Stone Institute, Chestertown, NY

A 2011 fund-raising flyer was produced and made available to all members of the Natural Stone Council organizations.

Individual NSC member associations have been active with outreach to promote awareness and solicit funding for NSC’s primary initiative — the development of an ANSI Dimensional Stone Standard and Certification Program. Through educational seminars, direct mail campaigns and organized industry meetings, these individual associations are proactively engaging natural stone industry members to support and participate in this industry-wide effort.

Natural Stone Alliance (NSA) President Chuck Monson announced at the NSC annual meeting that the NSA will match dollar-for-dollar contributions made to the NSC up to a total match of $100,000. NSA is a council of oversight that monitors distribution of royalties earned from the registrations for StonExpo, whose promotional rights were sold by the NSA to Hanley-Wood in 2005.

Marble Institute of America (MIA) unveils MIA/NSC showroom brochure and video on the sustainability of stone. In addition, MIA has promoted the sustainability of stone and NSC’s sustainability initiatives through full-page, four-color ads in Architect and Kitchen & Bath Design News magazines.

February 2011

Geibig updated Building Stone Institute members about the progress of the stone standard development at its annual convention in Charleston, SC. Natural Stone Council chairperson, Brenda Edwards, and BSI members from the NSC fundraising committee successfully solicited over $14,000 in pledge money from the conference floor.

March 2011

Stephanie Vierra, Associate AIA, LEED AP, and sustainability liaison for the NSC attended the London Stone Show. Vierra opened the first show session with an introduction to the sustainability requirements and trends facing the building design and construction communities, with an emphasis on utilizing the inherently sustainable characteristics of stone and a process that maximizes stone’s durability. The focus of the show on sustainability was evident, as the first full day of conference sessions was devoted to the topic. Speakers addressed everything from sustainability at the source to practical applications and sustainable finishing and cleaning of natural stone. Case studies on buildings in Italy, the U.S. and the U.K. offered different approaches to solving sustainability issues that included:

• Using local stone to reduce transportation impact

• Using recycled natural stone to minimize the environmental impacts that result from producing new materials

• Using the latest finishes to reduce maintenance

The U.K. has a rich history of buildings designed with the vast array of stone available within their boundaries. With this in mind, there was also a focus on conservation practices designed to help protect their built heritage, which requires specialized knowledge.

The Stone Federation of Great Britain presented the first Natural Stone Sustainability Awards during the opening session. The Awards aim to recognize and reward outstanding achievement, awareness and innovation in sustainability in the natural stone industry. NSC and its associates will continue to participate in this and other international efforts on sustainability.

April 2011

MIA Executive Director Gary Distelhorst addressed an international audience of attendees at the Vitoria Stone Show in Brazil and at the Xiamen Stone Fair in China on the importance for global support of the sustainability initiatives through the NSC.

The NSC published a Sustainable Natural Stone brochure that promotes the NSC and its work to position natural stone as a sustainable building material. For any donation over $100, the NSC will provide donors with their Sustainable Natural Stone brochure that is intended for designer and end-user awareness. An electronic version is also available online.

The NSC Board of Directors mandated a review of its existing Best Practices of the Natural Stone Industry documents, originally published from 2008 to 2009.

May 2011

A meeting of stone industry association leaders agreed that MSHA/OSHA regulatory inconsistencies are the industry’s next most important topics needing collaborative focus.

June 2011

NSC assumed the lead agency role to coordinate funding and other national support in order to facilitate partnerships that will address and resolve these industry-wide concerns.

July 2011

NSC Board approves the newly revised Best Practices of the Natural Stone Industry documents which are viewable online at

Other industry efforts by the natural stone industry to promote sustainability awareness are as follows:

• MIA introduces a sustainability requirement to its Pinnacle Award submission categories.

• MIA and BSI continue to collect socially responsible practices in place by quarries and other stone industry operations within their memberships.

• Industry member seminars and presentations were given at StonExpo and AIA events to help promote the NSC efforts and the environmental research on the Genuine Stone Web site.

• A stone industry panel discussion was presented at StonExpo, and it focused on embodied energy of stone and provided points of reference for improvements being made within the industry.

• Efforts to produce a new video promoting the NSC sustainability initiative have been launched, and interviews will be conducted at upcoming industry meetings and events. If interested in participating or submitting content, contact Brenda Edwards at or Harry Triebe, Sr. at

An international meeting on sustainability and on further awareness for the NSC’s ANSI Stone Standard will be held September 22, 2011 at Marmomacc in Verona, Italy. For more details or if interested in attending, contact Gary Distelhorst at or Brenda Edwards at     

NSC Organization Members

Allied Stone Industries

Building Stone Institute
Elberton Granite Association
Indiana Limestone Institute
Marble Institute of America
Mason Contractors Association of Americ

National Building Granite Quarries Association
National Slate Association
Natural Stone Alliance
New York State Bluestone Association
Pennsylvania Bluestone Association