Latest News - Natural stone scores on energy conservation 26-Oct-16 18:29
NEWS - Latest News - Natural stone scores on energy conservationThe following article appeared in 'Stone Report' September 2008.....................
Long-term building with natural stone
Natural stone scores on energy conservation
The German government intends to cut CO2 emissions in Germany by 40 per
cent by 2020 through an energy and climate programme. This puts the
focus on natural stone again as a natural building material. “The use
of natural stone for building considerably reduces CO2 emissions,” says
Reiner Krug, General Manager of the Deutscher Naturwerkstein-Verband
DNV. The production of natural stone only consumes energy for quarrying
and processing and the large stone deposits in Germany mean short
transport routes. Natural stone is also an old-established building
material; hardly any energy is required for the operation and
maintenance of natural stone buildings.
Quite a number of architects and building planners fear the capital
cost of natural stone and resort to supposedly cheaper building
materials. However, increasing attention is being paid to the long life
of a building and the total costs during its useful life, not only for
large buildings in the public sector, but also for prestige projects of
private developers. A situation that favours natural stone, as it is
cheaper than synthetic building materials in terms of its useful life.
“The capital cost is offset by the attractive long-term maintenance
costs and the long life,” says the DNV general manager explaining the
cost-benefit advantage of the natural building material.
“Whereas many building materials become unsightly in the course of the
years and need intensive cleaning and maintenance measures, natural
stone develops a natural patina over the years. The visual appearance
of many natural stones even remains almost unchanged after decades.”
The cost of cleaning and maintenance therefore remains low. Natural
stone is also distinguished by its high capacity for storing heat. In
contrast to modern glazed buildings, for example, little energy is
needed for heating and cooling buildings with natural stone facades.
Natural stone absorbs the heat radiated by the sun and prevents
unwanted heating up of the building.
Low energy requirement, good usability
Experts estimate that up to 50 per cent of all energy available for
consumers is used in the building industry. Especially synthetic
building materials frequently need a large amount of energy during the
manufacturing process. Not so natural stone: As a material created over
millions of years, it is found in almost finished form in nature. The
extraction of natural stone from the quarry is a careful process and
does not use large amounts of energy. The transport routes are short:
Natural stone is available in large quantities in many regions.
Although the local material competes with offers from growth countries
like Brazil, China and India, this is at the cost of the energy audit:
Long transport routes increase both energy consumption and
When choosing materials for large buildings, natural stone often loses
out against glass because of the “more modern” appearance of glass.
Whereas conventional facades with holes are frequently preferred for
classic housing construction, architects and planners support glazed
outer skins for large projects. The result is usually more expensive
climate controllers, details of total energy consumption are gladly
kept vague, and the necessary light and heat shading requires more
artificial lighting, as established in an extensive study by the
Darmstadt Institute for Living and the Environment (wvvw.iwu.de).
The current report of the Bavarian Audit Office (www.orh.bayern.de)
also explains that large glazed areas can no longer be warranted for
aesthetic reasons alone and should only be implemented in exceptional
justified cases. The cost of the facade and the operating costs
increase enormously with the use of glass. An open and light room
design and natural stone are actually not contradictory, as proved by
the building for the award-winning German Historical Museum in Berlin.
Light-coloured limestone combined with glass elements enables almost
perfect utilization of the light conditions inside the triangular
building with low energy consumption