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Turning waste into a unique architectural product, Coldspring and Jason F. McLennan have teamed up on a new dimensional stone product.

photo of linear series coldspringPhoto: ColdspringAs the founder and CEO of the International Living Future Institute and its influential Living Building Challenge, Declare product database, and Living Future unConference, Jason F. McLennan has been busy setting a high bar for “green.” Now the former BNIM architect has crossed over into product design, as he is set to announce tomorrow the launch of a unique line of sustainable dimension stone products called Earth Measure, in a collaboration with Coldspring, one of the nation’s largest natural stone providers.

In a world in which green products are defined by recycled content and low VOCs, natural stone has arguably gotten short shrift, as we noted recently in Environmental Building News, in Stone, The Original Green Building Material. Stone is simply cut from the earth and processed., It emits no VOCs or hazardous airborne pollutants, it is water-resistant, will outlive most buildings, and can be reused after the structure is no longer usable. How can you build on that pedigree?

How about turning the relatively small amount of quarry waste produced by stone manufacturers into a valuable product? While working with Coldspring as a consultant, McLennan recognized that the offcuts from stone processing still had value beyond landscaping and aggregate, and with Cold Spring’s corporate goal of creating zero waste from processing, a partnership was born.

Beauty + quality = green

“Green products cannot be lesser in beauty and lesser in quality,” McLennan told BuldingGreen, adding that if we want green building products to succeed, “they have to be more beautiful and at least as functional or more functional than the products they replace.”

With Earth Measure, stone scraps of various sizes are cut into distinct patterns inspired by the natural world and biophilia. The Fibonacci series is based on spirals found in seashells and other natural elements:

 photo of fibonacci series coldspringPhoto: Coldspring

The Linear series is closest to standard dimension stone but sized in standard wood dimensions, making it easy to integrate the two materials:

photo of linear series coldspringPhoto: Coldspring

The MUD series looks similar to drying mud:

photo of mud series coldspringPhoto: Coldspring

The Reptile series mimics the look of reptile skin (photos weren’t yet available at press time).

“Though there are set patterns, there are infinite variations so a designer can create a unique interpretation of the pattern, every project can be unique, and they can substitute different materials,” McLennan says. “Coldspring has partners who can match glass elements using the most responsible stuff environmentally you can get”—including recycled glass and salvaged wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.”

Earth Measures can be used for everything from pavers to walls to flooring, so it can transition from exterior to interior and horizontal to vertical applications. “If you start mixing materials, there is so much you can do,” says McLennan . “It is just up to people’s imaginations.”

As green as it gets?

Seeking to minimize what is perhaps stone’s greatest environmental weakness as a building material, McLennan steers designers towards locally quarried stone to reduce transportation energy and match local geology. Since Coldspring owns quarries throughout the U.S., it can supply stone well within a 500-mile radius of a project, but if Coldspring does not have the desired material available, other quarries can be used as well.

Projects then work with Coldspring to ensure a pattern meets the designer’s vision and create a CAD diagram that can be proofed. Once cut, the stone is packaged and delivered to the site laid out in a manner that simplifies installation; Coldspring can supply or consult on any of the necessary mounting systems.

The packaging is reusable, so once unloaded, the bags can be sent back to Coldspring, and the company can even calculate embodied energy for carbon offsets. The entire product and delivery system is designed to minimize waste and to be as environmentally friendly as possible.

How much does it cost? McLennan couldn’t provide exact figures, but claimed that prices are comparable to other stone products and should be competitive.

McLennan set out to “produce something that is beautiful, functional, durable—all the things I’d like to see in the deepest-green products.” He adds, “If you want to replace a paradigm, you have to create a better paradigm.”

In a world of recycled plastic and tire products that usually look like recycled plastic and rubber, Earth Measure is a refreshing change.

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