Comparing life-cycle assessment of floor coverings, natural stone has an outstanding track record

German Natural stone Association (DNV): „Sustainability study – Life-cycle Assessment of Floor Coverings“.

Study by the German Deutscher Naturwerkstein-Verband (DNV) calling other countries to translate the publication’s English version for their own marketing

A study solicited by the Deutscher Naturwerkstein-Verband (DNV, German Natural Stone Association) can be interpreted as a further sign of a change in awareness in the stone branch: time and again we see countries willing to share their marketing tools with other.

„Use Natural Stone“, e.g., is a campaign by the US Natural Stone Institute. The international organization Wonasa has served as a useful sponsor of such studies.

Now Germany is challenging other countries to translate the study for use locally. In order to facilitate translation, DNV is providing an English Version of the study.

Remember that the local language of Germany is German, and the original Study appears in German language.

Sharing of this type shows positive results already well established in the internet branch where open source products have expedited growth considerably.

„Nachhaltigkeitsstudie – Ökobilanz von Bodenbelägen“ („Sustainability study – Life-cycle Assessment of Floor Coverings“) is a scientifically based compilation of data which assesses the ecological repercussions of using natural stone, large ceramic tile, PVC, laminate, and hardwood flooring.

The study spans 50 years of use for public surfaces with high traffic.

Of course, the findings also apply to private homes.

The data is an important tool in convincing landlords and architects of the value as the life-cycle balance becomes increasingly important.
In summary, the study draws a positive conclusion for natural stone: the direct comparison shows „that natural stone hard floor covering has, on balance a much better life-cycle in production, implementation and day to day use than large ceramic tiles, wall-to-wall carpeting, PVC, laminate and hardwood flooring.“

German Natural stone Association (DNV): „Sustainability study – Life-cycle Assessment of Floor Coverings“.

The key points:
* The greenhouse effect of carpeting is 20x higher than that of natural stone (see graph). In numbers this translates to 10.9 kg CO2 equivalent in the case of natural stone vs. 223 kg CO2 equivalent for carpeting.

The CO2 equivalent tells us how much greenhouse gas is produced and released in manufacturing and using a building material.

German Natural stone Association (DNV): „Sustainability study – Life-cycle Assessment of Floor Coverings“.

* Similar results are obtained when breaking the analysis down to tiles in the usual sizes. The ecological life-cycle of a natural stone tile is approx. 84% lower than that of a large ceramic tiles.

Re.: the graph above – GWP is short for „Global Warming Potential“.

The study was carried out by the institute for building materials of Stuttgart University. Note that the data analysis considered not only the material in question but also the requirements for installation including requirements for substructure or mortice, adhesive, etc. Waterproofing or other impregnations or coatings, e.g.: varnish, usually applied were taken into consideration.

German Natural stone Association (DNV): „Sustainability study – Life-cycle Assessment of Floor Coverings“.

* Of course transportation is an important aspect of a product life-cycle. Here the Organization compared stone from local quarries to those from other EU-countries and from the far East. For Germany a 100 km transportation route via truck was the standard value applied. For European stone a 2,000 km transport route was set as the basis of calculation and for Asia shipping with a distance of 18,600 km + 150 km truck and/or 200 km rail transport were calculated.

Most surprising is the size of the gap between the life-cycle of local stone and stone from abroad:
– German stone uses 0.16 kg CO2-equivalent/m² flooring,
– European stone uses 3.2 kg CO2-equivalent/m² flooring
– and Chinese stone requires 7.9 kg CO2-equivalent/m² flooring

* It is a well-known fact that the ecological life-cycle of natural stone is outstanding. It is there for the taking – no need to process or manufacture the material in preparation. Also its extreme longevity weighs positively in the calculation.
Disposal of the material after use was not incorporated into the study.

But here, too, stone would have won hands down. It can be reclaimed a number of times and finally need not be disposed of separately – it merely returns to earth from whence it came.

However the calculations were difficult to evaluate.

The study was financed by DNV itself with the assistance of the Schweizer Verband NVS (the Swiss equivalent of DNV). Franken Schotter Company as well as chemical manufacturers Sopro and Akemie sponsored the study as well.

Download „Sustainability study – Life-cycle Assessment of Floor Coverings, summary

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(30.01.2019, USA: 01.30.2019)