Unless you have been living under a rock the last ten years (no pun intended), going green is something you have at least heard about. Now, most of us that run a stone fabrication shop, rarely think of going green and protecting the environment. However, this is something that will change in the years to come, and it’s something that every stone shop should be thinking about. Before I discuss how to go green, and how it can benefit your shop, let’s first define what going green means. According to the US Green Building Council, green is: "Principles that minimize the use of nonrenewable resources and seek to prevent air, water, and ground contamination, as well as other activities that degrade the environment." Let’s look at this a little closer and how it can not only help planet earth, but how it can put more "green" in your pocket. First, going green is not a requirement or a law at this time. It is strictly voluntary. The following statement is from http://www.usgbc.org, which is the website to go to for all the information you will need on green. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System is a voluntary, consensus-based, national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. So, if this is not a requirement, why should I care, you might ask? The following are several reasons:
- Stone is Green—Just think about this for a moment. We are selling mother earth herself. Let us not forget that we are dealing with a natural resource. What better selling point then to advertise and market the fact that you are using a green product. Not only homeowners, but architects and designers both are keen to use green products. One of the latest trends in building design is to use recyclable building materials. Why recycle when you can use a natural green product such as stone.
- Competitive Edge—Going green will give you one up on your competitors. What better way to gain the competitive edge then to let your potent ional customers know that you are not only working with a green product but your business is concerned with mother earth.
- Save the Planet—What can be more satisfying in knowing that you are helping save the plant.
What can you do to go green in your shop.
- Recycle and filter your water—Water recycling and filtering in many towns is now a requirement and will soon be a requirement all over the US. This is especially true in areas where water is scarce. There are several companies that now make recycling and filtration equipment. For a list of companies
- Go Wet—It surprises me how many shops today are still cutting, grinding and polishing stone dry. In my book this is a no-no. Dry cutting and grinding releases silica dust in the air which can cause siliceous, a very serious lung disease.
- Recycle your stone—See the next section below on what to do with your stone waste.
- Build with Green Materials—There are many new material for building that are made from recycled materials such as tires, plastic milk jugs and other materials that are normally just thrown away.
- Use Natural Floor Materials—get rid of the carpets and install stone flooring in your showroom and office. This will also help you sell more stone.
- Use non toxic chemicals—use water based sealers and cleaners. Try to stay clear of solvent based materials.
What to do with your stone waste
Many fabricators have a big issue with there stone waste. I talked with a fabricator recently that was spending over $2000 per month on disposal of their stone waste. There are several ways to dispose of your waste and even a few where you can generate more green$$$$
Here are a few suggestions:
- Have a weekend sale—I know several fabricators who open up there stone yard to the general public and sell there waste for next to nothing. Some even give it away. Take a small ad in the newspaper and advertise it. You can make some extra money by charging the customer to cut the piece or even profile and polish it. I know one fabricator who made over $35,000.00 on one weekend with this method.
- Tumble it—Tumble stone is big and customers love it. Why not take you waste, cut it into small tiles and tumble it. These tiles can be sold for as much as $20 each.
- Give it away to artist and craftspeople—if you are in an area that has a large arts and crafts community, why not give it away. You wont be making any money on it but on the other hand you wont be spending it to get rid of it.
- Sidewalks and patios—what about using it in sidewalks and patios. Masons get some big dollars for this type of work and it looks great. Terrazzo companies may also be interested in it for what is knows as palandiana terrazzo.
Chicken Grit—Buy and rock crusher and grind the stone into fine grit and sell it to chicken farmers as