Promoting green practices in the stone industry
Continental Cut Stone and its partner company, Continental Cream Quarries LLC, continue to invest in technology and resources to meet the NSC/ANSI 373 sustainability standards
In recent years, Continental Cut Stone has expanded its capacity while working to address environmental challenges. The company, located in Florence, TX, has added several fabrication machines to its production area, including a CNC, to increase efficiencies. Continental Cream Quarries LLC in Liberty Hill, TX, which is under the same ownership as Continental Cut Stone, also continues to grow its capabilities. The quarrying operation reopened in 2009 and quarries both “Cordova” Cream and Texas “Cordova” Shellstone.
At the forefront, the company advances its efforts with a sharp eye on the “Green” challenge. “Looking to the future of natural stone, we work hard to produce our ‘Cordova’ Cream and Shellstone block in a responsible way,” said Rob Teel, owner of both companies. “Our growth is both physical with new machines and administrative to meet environmental challenges.”
Teel is passionate about the future of natural stone. As the Chair of the Natural Stone Council (NSC), (the united voice for the natural stone industry), the company pays particular attention to sustainability. “New policies and procedures are being put in place to qualify and incorporate the new NSC/ANSI 373 LEED point system,” said Teel. “What this means for our future is a better environment and bonus, the architect can achieve additional LEED points when they specify Continental Cream Quarries and Continental Cut Stone in their project. We plan on qualifying for this designation in early 2020. The natural stone industry can help achieve the Green Building objectives through this program.”
Teel, who has been on the NSC board for the past eight to 10 years, and the Chair for the past two, has wanted to receive the designation for some time. “We have bandwidth and manpower to take it on,” said Teel. “I believe we can set ourselves apart from the man-made alternatives out there, and we have a story to tell. I think NSC is a great platform for us to show the design community how low our carbon foot print is.”
The company has recently started the process and has hired a third party consultant to walk them through the preparation of documents and programs they need in order to have it. “I think it is a challenge if you take it in-house,” said Teel. “We are using Tom Cleveland who helped Independent Limestone Company in Bloomington, IN, and Stony Creek Granite in Branford, CT. He helped prepare the documents for the certification. Working with Continental Cut Stone will be his third run at it. His service offers the industry a pathway to help expedite the process. I do think it is a little daunting for a small company without some guidance.”
Continental Cut Stone is a nationally recognized architectural cut stone fabrication mill that specializes in limestone elements such as smooth wall cladding, columns, balustrade, stair treads and fireplaces, among other things. Architects, masons and builders have worked with the company for more than 30 years. The attraction is passion for natural stone and experience in combining Old World craftsmanship with cutting edge technology.
“There are several segments of the industry we sell to,” said Teel. “We are a team and believe in the team concept from the design community to the contractor. Continental Cream Quarries and Continental Cut Stone promote ‘Cordova’ Cream, Shellstone and Lueders limestone to architects. We introduce natural stone for proposed building materials in the design phase of projects. The limestone block is sold to independent fabricators who are awarded projects where natural stone is specified.”
Notable projects include the award-winning Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles CA. Set to open in early 2020, Continental Cream Quarries supplied the “Cordova” Shellstone and Continental Cut Stone fabricated the restoration piece of the former M.A.Y. building in Sacramento, CA. The project was given the designation of LEED Platinum certified.
The catalyst of the CNC machine was kick-started in part by a collaborative effort between Teel and Senior Principal, Larry Speck, of Page Architects when working on The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School Health Learning building. The CNC machine from Park Industries in St. Cloud, MN, lovingly referred to as Elvis because it is a “rock star,” assisted in the production of a trapezoid finish in “Cordova Cream” limestone. “We produce stone specific to our client’s project, which can vary greatly,” said Teel. “We are a full-service fabrication mill producing shop drawings and cut stone tickets for commercial/institutional and high-end residential architectural elements highly dependent on the project. The type of feature can vary in architectural style from contemporary to classical.”
Continental Quarries, just outside of Lueders, is a third partner company that produces Lueders limestone building materials. “Products can range from raw block, bench block, slabs and stacking block to standard 4-, 6- and 8-inch chopped stone, to name a few,” said Teel.
The three companies combined employ approximately 70 employees. While the quarries have about 25 employees, the custom cut-to-size fabrication mill has around 45. The quarry machinery includes, Park Industries, Komatsu, Harlo, Dazzini and Caterpillar. Their main fabrication facility is approximately 15,000 square feet.
“Natural stone has a great story,” said Teel. “The advantages include low embodied energy as compared to manufactured materials. The characteristics of natural stone are durability and the ability to repurpose, and stone is much kinder to the environment. In conclusion, natural stone compared to manmade materials that strangle the ground and air with chemicals and toxic waste is the environmental friendly choice of the future. This is a new ‘sustainability’ movement.