The Wicked Yard

Sustainable, Timeless, and Everlasting — 9 Reasons You Should Choose Natural Stone

Posted by Amanda Pittsley on Jan 11, 2021 8:00:00 AM

Photo of Woodbury Gray Granite Steps

There are many sustainable practices that manufacturers of building materials can adopt, but there is only one building material that is inherently good for the earth and good for your health natural stone.

Natural stone takes less water to process, doesn’t release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) harmful gases emitted into the air and lasts longer than concrete, glass or quartz. Projects that use natural stone also require less maintenance, an attribute that cannot be overstated.

But quarrying practices are not the same across all natural stone quarriers and that affects your ability to meet LEED v4 Certification, which addresses transparency in environmental life-cycle impacts and selecting products with improved life-cycles.

This certification from the U.S. Green Building Council offers restructured materials and resources credits that push for transparency in manufacturing and offers credits for transparency in raw material sourcing and selecting materials that have been appropriately sourced. It also rewards products from manufacturers that have provided information on land use practices, extraction locations, labor practices, etc. Polycor, Inc. stones meet all these standards thanks to its ownership of its entire supply chain.

Jackhammering at one of Polycor's quarrys

Swenson Granite Works is held to the same rigorous standards of quality of its parent company, Polycor Inc, and its New England quarries carry with them a deep history and ties to the local communities which they help support. Quality and sustainability, quite literally found in your own backyard. Visiting your local Swenson store not only keeps the environment healthy, but your neighborhoods as well.

Here’s a quick overview of why you should choose natural stone, and Swenson Granite Works’ products in particular! 

WHAT’S THE PROOF? STRICT INDUSTRY CERTIFICATIONS

The ANSI/NSC 373 standards are the grades of the Natural Stone Council’s ambitious certification program governing a company’s use of natural resources, fair labor practices and social initiatives. NSC created the standards to improve the environmental performance of the natural stone industry.

The voluntary accreditation helps architects and builders who specify stone ensure their selection is produced in an economic, environmentally and socially responsible manner. Polycor Inc. has achieved NSC-373 certifications for its CAMBRIAN BLACK® granite, CALEDONIA™ granite, and BETHEL WHITE® granite quarries, and three of its INDIANA LIMESTONE® quarries, all of which can be found at your local Swenson Granite Works store. 

Polycor, Inc.’s Bethel White Quarry, located in Bethel, Vermont

Polycor, Inc.’s Bethel White Quarry, located in Bethel, Vermont

Natural Stone is both sustainable and modern

Timeless, classic and luxurious, natural stone is the most iconic building material. What other material could be used for both restoration of our important heritage projects and the performance needs of modern architecture? For the professionals who restored the historic Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and those who designed and built the ADNOC Headquarters tower in Abu Dhabi, the answer is the same natural stone. 

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, New York City, constructed of Polycor’s GEORGIA MARBLE-PEARL GREY™-MARBLE

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, New York City, constructed of Polycor’s GEORGIA MARBLE-PEARL GREY™-MARBLE

ADNOC Headquarters in Abu Dhabi, constructed of Bethel White granite

ADNOC Headquarters in Abu Dhabi, constructed of Bethel White granite

Swenson Granite Works quarries historic CONCORD GRAY™ granite locally from Concord, New Hampshire and  WOODBURY GRAY™ granite from Woodbury, Vermont an instantly recognizable salt and pepper stone that brings timeless style to countless buildings, monuments, and projects. 

Woodbury Gray granite was used for the Pennsylvania State Capitol

Woodbury Gray granite was used for the Pennsylvania State Capitol

These natural stone options are an obvious choice, especially for the classic New England aesthetic that is so famous not only in our small Northeastern towns, but throughout the country. Buying from your local Swenson Granite Works store means you are investing in years of proven methods, and years of research on how to responsibly and sustainably source natural stone. 

Today we’ll review the nine reasons that make natural stone sustainable and appropriate for LEED v4.

1.NATURAL STONE USES LESS WATER

In quarrying, production, installation and maintenance, natural stone lowers water use throughout its life cycle. During production, Polycor Inc. recycles the water it uses.

2. NATURAL STONE IS THE ORIGINAL ORGANIC BUILDING MATERIAL

Natural stone requires no chemicals for production. In fact, “production” for natural stone means extraction, cutting and finishing, all without added chemicals. Contrast that with other building materials like quartz surfaces, which use a combination of crushed stone and resins to manufacture products. Polycor Inc. specifically focuses on sourcing the highest grades of stone, such as Cambrian Black granite, which doesn’t need dyes to achieve its rich color. It’s a true black throughout, even when it’s honed or brushed. A manufacturer of a lesser grade stone might apply a black dye or resin to the surface of a stone. Later if the treated surface of the stone is honed or brushed away, it will appear gray. 

Cambrian Black Granite Steps

Cambrian Black granite steps

The Veteran's Memorial Fountain in Laconia, New Hampshire features Cambrian Black granite and was installed by Belknap Landscaping

The Veteran's Memorial Fountain in Laconia, New Hampshire features Cambrian Black granite and was installed by Belknap Landscaping

3. NATURAL STONE QUARRIES ARE EASILY RECLAIMED (UNLIKE MINES)

Because the natural stone industry doesn’t use chemicals in its processes, quarries don’t require soil remediation and are easy to reclaim. 

4. NATURAL STONE PRODUCES MINIMAL EXCESS MATERIAL AND IS HIGHLY RECYCLABLE

The natural stone extraction process has high yields and little excess material because the stone is close to the surface. Different from mining, such as coal, for example, where large amounts of earth must be removed to extract the raw materials.

5. SWENSON GRANITE WORKS PROTECTS THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF ITS WORKERS

Swenson Granite Works provides protective equipment and safe conditions for its employees in their quarries and production facilities.

6. THE STONE IS OLD BUT THE PRACTICES ARE INNOVATIVE

One of Swenson Granite Works’ tenets is to maintain continuous industry improvement in quarrying, production and distribution, which leads to more efficient working practices and higher yields. As it seeks to become more sustainable, the building industry is moving back to natural materials for their trusted results and minimal environmental impact. Though Swenson Granite Works has been quarrying in New England since the late 1800’s, the company has adapted its practices and procedures to consistently improve both the safety of our workers and the efficacy of the techniques used.

Quarry GIF of a slab falling

One clever option uses a simple bag, similar to an ordinary zip lock bag, but much larger and made from metal. This bag is inserted in the cut created by the wire saw and then filled with water or air. The expanding bag then generates enough pressure on the walls to tip the block, as opposed to using a blasting agent

7. POLYCOR, INC. IS COMMITTED TO GOOD CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

As the world’s largest natural stone quarrier, Polycor, Inc. is leading the industry with a commitment to socially responsible workplace regulations and policies. Swenson Granite Works is proud to uphold these regulations in its New England quarries.

8. NATURAL STONE IS DURABLE

Natural stone boasts an inherent durability not found in manufactured building materials. Buildings and monuments built with natural stone tend to evoke a particular sense of emotion and have a great deal of meaning behind them so investing in natural stone means investing in a lifelong legacy that people can enjoy for generations.

9. POLYCOR, INC. OWNS A CLEAR CHAIN OF CUSTODY ON ALL ITS NATURAL STONES

From the bedrock to the point of sale, Polycor, Inc. maintains an unbroken ownership of the supply chain, allowing it to maintain standards of quality and practice.

Specifying sustainable materials is challenging. Much of the building materials industry (and to an extent, the stone industry too) is not transparent enough about where their materials are sourced, how they are produced or under what conditions their workers make their products. Middleman companies, brokers and chronic relabeling of products at distribution centers make the job difficult for the professional specifier set on sustainable sourcing.

One way through the misinformation is to work with suppliers who have ownership of their quarry sources and manufacturing facilities. Every one of Polycor, Inc.’s stones marble, granite, limestone and soapstone all come from the company-owned quarries and are processed in Polycor, Inc. operated facilities. And each of the stones quarried is handled by a company employee working under fair and safe conditions. Unfortunately, ethical standards are not upheld in some other countries, or too many steps in the supply chain interfere with the process. 

Take a journey from the Woodbury quarry in Woodbury, Vermont, to the manufacturing facility in Barre, VT, to the Westbrook, Maine store.

Dedication to its employees and its resources is all part of the company’s mission to help the world fall in love with natural stone.

Ready to start your project with sustainable natural stone? Request a quote now.

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Topics: Granite, Natural Materials, Sustainable Design, Indiana Limestone, buy local

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