Modern building construction focuses on addressing the problems of sustainability, efficiency, environmental impact, manufacturing costs, and aesthetic appeal. In the past year, masonry (i.e., the use of natural stone in the construction process) has become increasingly more popular due to its competitiveness in these problem areas.
A comprehensive study performed by the German university Institut für Massivbau of Technische Universität Darmstadt and the Life Cycle Engineering Experts (LCEE) focuses on the use of masonry to address these issues. The study provides detailed scientific analyses demonstrating the superiority of natural stone over other construction materials such as wood and concrete, in addition to cost-benefit analyses that consider sustainability and manufacturing.
1. Low environmental impact and low manufacturing
Low environmental impact and low manufacturing costs are of great concern to modern building construction. The masonry industry produces very little production waste. Any remaining raw materials from production are recycled into the process and used for other products, instead of being thrown out. Recycling raw materials provides economic and sustainable manufacturing and business model.
Additionally, a natural stone wall requires as little as 3 pounds of mortar per foot. Compared to other building methods and materials such as reinforced concrete, exterior natural stone walls can be built at lower manufacturing costs.
2. High passive insulation
In addition to having a low environmental impact and low manufacturing costs, natural stone materials provide high passive insulation for buildings. The study shows that masonry wall constructions can reach exceptional heat transfer coefficients for houses by combining exterior masonry walls with insulated windows and doors. High heat transfer coefficients mean that quick temperature and weather fluctuations are delayed by the stone walls. Thereby reducing drastic swings in indoor temperature. Insulation benefits are maximized for high outdoor temperatures, often seen during the summer. This means that costs for active temperature control (i.e., air conditioning) can be reduced during the summer, resulting in long-term savings.
3. Decreased environmental pollution
When estimating the environmental pollution footprint of a building, the materials of the building, as well as the lifecycle of the building, are taken into consideration. This means that in addition to the construction of the building, the destruction of the building in the future must be considered. Buildings constructed of natural stone decrease environmental pollution due to the nature of the materials. Natural stone can be torn down and recycled for a variety of purposes, including the production of concrete, road constructions, and tiling. Other construction materials such as wood and concrete do not always have as high of a utilization rate.
4. Aesthetics and efficient constructions
Aside from the manufacturing and sustainability advantages of natural stone, masonry also supplies efficient, aesthetically-pleasing construction solutions for business buildings and houses. Creating a clean, natural look can be done more efficiently with natural stone than with wood or concrete. And as construction continues to increase rapidly in sprawling urban areas, material-efficient constructions have become more and more important.
Masonry provides a competitive edge in the construction process by providing solutions to many of the problems seen in modern construction, including sustainability, environmental impact, production costs, and innovative design.