NSC Links Green Building Certification With Genuine Stone

Words: Dan Kamys

The Natural Stone Council (NSC) has released the first case study in a series of research-based documents highlighting the environmental advantages of natural stone. The case study, "Application of Green Building Certification Programs to Natural Stone," can be found on the NSC's Web site, genuinestone.com/env_researchandresults.php.

The case study highlights the two predominant certification programs in the U.S. currently: the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and the Sustainable Project Rating Tool (SPiRiT), developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Under LEED guidelines, natural stone may contribute to certification in several categories: Sustainable Sites, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, and Innovation and Design. SPiRiT is based on LEED 2.0 and is tailored to Army-specific needs allowing them to create and maintain sustainable facilities.

This first case study provides two examples of projects using natural stone that received certification from LEED and SPiRiT, respectively. ImaginOn in Charlotte, N.C., received a silver rating, the first USGBC LEED-certified public building in that city. Stone cladding used in the project helped contributed to a LEED Materials and Resources credit. A SPiRiT bronze rating was awarded to Jefferson Hall Library and Learning Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in West Point, N.Y. Natural stone was a key element in the design. Stone, including more than 130 tons of granite, was quarried regionally contributing to the bronze certification.

In partnership with The University of Tennessee Center for Clean Products, the NSC is conducting a life-cycle assessment to credibly evaluate the environmental footprint of natural stone industry operations. The results will allow the comparison of natural stone with competing building materials in order to validate the environmental advantages that stone has over other products. Information garnered from this research as well as further qualitative investigation will be shared through a series of best practice documents, materials fact sheets, and additional case studies.

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