Is granite exploration sustainable?
If we take into account that Nature never stops generating, then, yes, granite is a renewable resource. However, as it takes thousands of years to create, some do not consider granite entirely sustainable, but renewable and reusable.
The stone can be found in almost all countries in great abundance. For example, marble has been mined in Carrara, Italy for centuries, and it still exists in great abundance.
In a properly explored quarry, granite levels can last a lifetime. In addition, extracted granite does not contain harmful chemicals and does not emit harmful gases or radiation.
Natural stone is an environmentally-friendly choice
Gra2003, in the stone industry, has made great progress in recent years to adopt responsible extraction and processing practices. For example, during the transformation the impact is reduced because we use humidified cutting discs and wires that decrease the amount of silica and stone dust that could be released into the air.
The construction industry has also evolved into sustainable construction. Being “environmentally friendly” has evolved from a mere idea to a solid reality.
Architects, engineers, builders and owners recognize the need to increase environmental awareness and sustainable construction. Environmental awareness tries to do everything possible to be kinder to the land, in addition to conserving natural resources.
What makes natural stone exploration sustainable
Natural stone is an inherently ecological material, whose longevity can be extended by applying stricter sustainability standards for the industry.
Water. The minimum use of freshwater in the process and guarantee of good quality of the water returned to the environment.
Energy. Energy-efficient operations with low carbon impact.
Transport. The efficiency of stone transport.
Value chain. An uninterrupted chain of certified organizations, from the quarry to the end consumer.
Chemicals. Safe management of chemicals in operations and prevention of overly aggressive chemicals.
Surplus Materials. Reducing the quantities of surplus processed material and solid waste sent to landfills.
Innovation. Promote continuous improvement and transformation of the industry.
Quarry management. Site-specific measurement plans to ensure responsible management of environmental impacts.
Health and safety. Planning that ensures that workers are provided with a safe and healthy work environment.
Responsible management. Social responsibility in accordance with legal regulations for the workplace and support programs for employees and the community.
Land reclamation. Responsible and sustainable recovery of quarry sites after operations cease.
No other building material is as recyclable as natural stone.
Almost all the stone in a deconstructed project is recyclable. In addition, it can be used in other projects or crushed for other uses, such as: cement, floors, or even in artificial coatings that use natural stone as a base.
What are some of the ecological attributes offered by natural stone?
- offers a long life cycle.
- natural stone resists atmospheric conditions better than any other building material, natural or synthetic.
- The stone columns of the Parthenon, existing since 447 BC, are an example; the Egyptian pyramids are another.
- In fact, natural stone is so durable that, in most cases, the lifespan of any particular building lasts.
The choice of stones extracted and processed regionally, or locally, also contributes a lot to reduce the environmental impact. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions during transport and can also help the local economy a lot.
List of the most popular natural stones, granites and marbles in Portugal
Yellow Granite (Mondim, Vila Real, Figueira)
Blue / Gray Granite (Alpendorada)
Gray Granite (Ariz, Roriz, Pedras Salgadas)
Black Granite (Favaco, Negro Gra)
Pink Granite (Monforte)
White Marble (Estremoz)
Granite is more sustainable when compared to other materials. Granite is also a recyclable and reusable material.
So, despite Granite and marble are considered recyclable materials they do not meet consensus on sustainability, as the resources are not renewable, despite the regeneration of Nature.
However, this study by the University of Stuttgart revealed that (granite) natural stone is more sustainable when compared to other floor coverings.
Although the exploration and transformation process consumes a lot of energy, the stone industry is aware of the impact and has adopted minimizing measures to make granite mining more sustainable.