We will shortly be having an indepth enviromental study carried out on our stone and its impact on the enviroment, whilst this is being carried out below are some notes in brief.
All building materials have a varied range of impact on the enviroment due to energy, carbon footprint, waste genareted, expected life of product, recyclable potential, etc. There have been many studies and reports to show these findings and listed below are some of the most popular building materials, and their ranking based on their green credentials.
(starting with the material which has the least impact on the enviroment)
1. Natural stone
Natural stone is extracted using lagre mechanical equipment in a quarry enviroment, then sawn, guillotined (cropped) or dressed by hand to create the desired product. The production of a piece of natural stone is quite labour intensive, as it may be man handled sevaral times before the finished product is achieved. Off cuts can then be recycled to use as aggregate and the water from the sawing proccess is recycled to be used over and again. Natural stone has been proven to have a long life in its use for building, in excess of 1000 years, re; cathedrals, abbeys, farmhouses and historical buildings. Natural stone from demolished buildings can be salvaged and reused for building again or crushed to make as aggregate. Less mortar is usually required in the construction of stone buildings as stone products are usually much larger in length and height than bricks.
2. Clay Brick
Bricks are mainly made from clay mined from the ground, most of which are fired at 1100 degrees centigradeto produce the final brick, so energy use is fairly high in the production process. However, there is very little waste with excess clay being reused, and fired waste can be recycled for aggregrates. The level of emitted pollutants varies, as clays have varying degrees of sulphur and fluorine present, from very little to high levels. Bricks have proven to be hardwearing in many buildings, and some have survived for sevral hundred years. Bricks from demolished buildings can also be salvaged and reused or recycled to make aggregrates.
3. Reconstituted stone and other concrete products
Reconstituted stone and other concrete products including bricks require a high level of energy to make and process. As well as using quarried and crushed aggregrates, it also requires cement material, which needs a vast amount of energy to make as well as emitting large amounts of carbon dioxide. As concrete products are relativley young, the expected life of these products is unclear. However reasearch shows that it is unlikely to be as resilient as natural stone or clay based bricks. Concrete products from demolitions can be recycled to make aggregrates.
4. Wood cladding
Wood/Timber cladding is traditionally thought of as being extremely enviromentally friendly, however wood needs to be treated frequently with preservaties or paints containing chemicals throughout its relatively short life. Energy in the production of wood/timber claddingis is minimal, however, trees take a long period to regenarate, so the negative effects of felling trees and woodland in vast quantities can be devastating. Trees absorb a huge amount of carbon dioxide and emit oxygen, so not only do you lose this this natural process which is essential for the ecology of the planet, you also lose the natural enviroment and habitat for many different living plants and creatures. Wood that has been used as cladding is very rarely recycled, and unsuitable for burning due to its high chemical content, it would usually end up going to landfill.
5. Plastic cladding
All oil basedproducts such as plastic, require a huge amount of energy to produce, not including the extraction and refing of oil. A large proportion of plastic cladding products on the market are imported from overseas. Unfortunatley, waste genarated in the production of this material cannot be recycled. The life of plastic based cladding is thought to be relatively short, and at the end of its life cannot be recycled so ends up as landfill.