Stone Certification Recognized in LEED v4, Living Buildings
November 7, 2016
Stone is one of our most durable, timeless, and beautiful building materials, but is it sustainable? Yes, if best practices are employed in stone quarrying, processing, and transportation (see Stone, The Original Green Building Material). To improve the sustainability of stone production and help projects find greener products, the Natural Stone Council (NSC) released ANSI/NSC 373 Sustainable Production of Natural Dimension Stone in 2014. That certification has now gotten a boost with approval by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for recognition in LEED v4.
LEED Interpretation #10455, released in October 2016, recognizes ANSI/NSC-373 as a USGBC-approved certification under the Materials & Resources (MR) credit Sourcing of Raw Materials, with products carrying third-party certification to the standard counting toward full credit under Option 1 of that credit. In addition to earning the certification (at any level: Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum), the stone facility has to make its scorecard publicly available and earn one of two optional credits in the system: either 7.2.1 (Ecosystem Boundaries) or 7.2.2 (Environmental Impact Assessment).
In addition, the standard was incorporated into the recent v3.1 release of the Living Building Challenge. In that standard, projects are required to advocate to manufacturers of all dimension stone products used within the project to pursue certification.
Finding certified products should become easier
Products carrying the certification aren’t common yet, but they’re on the way, according to Kathy Spanier, NSC sustainability committee chair and director of marketing at Coldspring, a Minnesota-based stone industry producer. Spanier told BuildingGreen that four companies carry certifications, with another five on the way. Companies can certify either quarries or processing facilities. For a finished product to reach a construction project with the NSC certification, however, “the stone would have to be certified at a quarry and then transported to a certified processing facility to maintain chain of custody,” says Spanier.
Pursuing the certification has benefited Coldspring and its environmental practices, according to Spanier, noting that it instigated some consolidation in its operations, which in turn reduced its environmental footprint. She also noted that although stone processing doesn’t use many chemicals except to operate and maintain equipment, a required chemicals inventory has raised awareness of potential problems and often leads to unneeded chemicals being removed from facilities.