How Sustainable is it: Granite, Marble and Concrete
Sustainable construction is about meeting present day construction needs, without compromising the ability for future generations to meet their own needs. The good news is, we’re more aware of the impact which Construction is having on our environment and, as an industry, we’re continuously improving our sustainable efforts.
The sustainability of any development is highly dependent on the materials which are used throughout construction. There are a number of materials which are widely used within the construction industry, but they pose the question; are they environmentally friendly?
1. Granite and Marble
Granite and Marble are considered to be unsustainable materials as they are non-renewable resources and have very energy intensive manufacturing processes. As these materials need to be extracted, the impact which they cause upon the environment is irreversible, particularly in terms of water and air pollution.
However, this does not mean that Granite and Marble shouldn’t be used – they are both highly recyclable and reusable, as well as durable. These materials can be recycled and used in a number of different products such as concrete mixture, landscaping, aggregate fill, walkways or simply reinstallation. Granite is also highly durable as it is very strong, thermally stable and has a very low rate of water absorption. Additionally, Granite is a great choice as it requires low maintenance; only requiring water and soap to maintain cleanliness and a sealant every few years. It is important to note that some sealers are quite harmful towards the environment, thus it is important to use a LOW VOC sealant to ensure minimal environmental impact.
Marble, on the other hand, is not as durable as granite with its susceptibility to acid, scratches and heat. Marble also has a high absorption rate, particularly if unsealed. While Marble does not have a high need for maintenance, it is vital to use a sealant twice a year for its protection. Similarly to Granite, it is important to use a LOW VOC sealant to minimise it’s impact on the environment.
Similar to Granite and Marble, the manufacturing process is very harmful to the environment, is energy intensive and releases a very high amount of carbon dioxide into the earth’s atmosphere. However, unlike granite and marble, there is a large supply of the necessary raw materials. While there manufacturing process is not particularly environmentally friendly, it is difficult to suggest an alternative to using concrete in construction due to the structural integrity and nature of concrete.
Concrete has become, and is continuing to become, a more recyclable and reusable material. It is becoming practice to crush the concrete, and use it for various aggregate materials including making concrete. Concrete is also highly durable depending on how long it is cured for, is resistant to chemicals, ultraviolet exposure and weathering and extra protection is necessary. Additionally Concrete requires very minimal maintenance, primarily cleaning it with water and soap to remove grime, or at it’s worst repairing cracks to reduce water intrusion.
These materials are widely used throughout the construction industry. While they are often unavoidable, making a recycled product your first choice is always the best alternative.