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30|February 2020
Natural Stone: Mother Nature’s Original Green Building Material
Megy Karydes Architectural Photos Courtesy NextHaus Alliance; Quarry Photo Courtesy Coldspring
designers are requesting, be- cause clients are demanding it, is transparency. They want to know where the material being used in their projects coming from and in what conditions those materials are being sourced.
Slippery rock Gazette
or reused in its entirety. A Declare label for a manmade material such as engineered quartz on the other hand would list components such as polyester resins, pigments, and other additives. It would also show that at the end of its life, en- gineered quartz goes to a landfill.
For those who want to ensure the sustainability and environmental performance of natural stone, the Natural Stone Sustainability Standard (ANSI/NSC 373) is a great resource.
“Some of the most common reasons the architect and design community choose to use natural stone are due to its durability and performance, aesthetics and cer- tainly the fact that it is a natural product,” adds Spanier. “In archi- tectural applications specifically, using natural stone from compa- nies that have gone through the third party verified Sustainability Standard can help designers and owners meet their sustainability goals on projects as it contrib- utes to both LEED v4 and Living Building Challenge material credits.”
Why Using Natural Stone Matters
While many of the homes de- signed by Kipnis Architecture + Planning do incorporate natural stone, Kipnis reminds designers that where they source their stone is just as important as deciding which stone to use.
Stone that is locally quarried tends to fit in better with its sur- roundings, for example, not to mention it’s an eco-friendly op- tion, since a significant percent- age of any material’s embodied energy is from transportation.
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the country in the form of devas- tating fires, massive flooding and high winds, architects, designers, and environmentally conscious homeowners are paying even more attention to the building ma- terials they source and use than ever before. Carbon reduction tar- gets are part of those discussions and natural stone has a larger spot at the table. Increasingly, archi- tects and designers are looking for products that meet sustainability standards to help them make both recommendations and decisions.
Architecture firm Kipnis Architecture + Planning in Evanston, Illinois, specializes in designing and building “high de- sign/low carbon” and high-per- formance luxury homes with sustainability in mind. Nathan Kipnis, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C, founder and principal of Kipnis Architecture + Planning, often incorporates natural stone for a number of reasons and one of them is because he seeks to create homes that are resilient and can handle both natural and man-made events.
Natural Stone Versus Manmade Materials
Ultimately, architects and de- signers must understand what a
Above and Below: Natural Thin Lite Veneer from Glacier Stone Supply.
climate change impacts
 communities throughout
buyer wants in using one mate- rial over the other to meet their needs. Kathy Spanier, Director of Marketing for Coldspring consid- ers it part of their role to educate architects, designers and other clients on the properties and per- formance of each material to help guide their decision. That includes the differences between choosing quartzite and quartz.
“Many quartz or engineered stone products are marketed and promoted as natural stone and it creates confusion for the buyer,” Spanier admits. “Natural stone is a naturally occurring material made out of various minerals in Mother Nature’s pallet. Manmade quartz
is a mixture of crushed quartz mixed with a resin and other addi- tives that are processed and cured into a solid form or slab.”
When making a decision whether to use manmade vs nat- ural materials, Spanier recom- mends her clients consider what is important to them and/or their client on the project.
With no additives, natural stone is a chemical free material and has very low embodied carbon. When making material selections, it is important to make sure you consider the chemicals, ingredi- ents and carbon footprint of the material.
Another thing architects and
“When vetting material, trans- parency programs such as the Declare label are a great way to ensure you understand all the in- gredients in the product you are using,” Spanier adds. “Think of it like a nutrition label for your materials.”
Similar to a label you’d see on a cereal box, a Declare label shows a buyer a breakdown of the prod- uct. Details include where a prod- uct comes from, what it’s made of and where it goes at the end of its life. For example, a Declare label for natural stone would show just one ingredient (natural stone), and show that at the end of its life, stone can be salvaged, recycled,
     Locally sourced: Coldspring’s Mesabi Black quarry

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