Everywhere you look individuals, government agencies, universities and schools, and even private businesses are going green.
As we hear news about global warming and how we are polluting our own environment, it is of utmost importance that we all do our part in saving our planet not only for our present generation, but also for generations to follow.
What does going green mean?
Going 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.
According to the U.S. Green Building Council, worldwide buildings account for 17 percent of fresh water withdrawal, 25 percent of wood harvest, 33 percent of CO2 emissions and 40 percent of material and energy use.
Going green is simply changing the way we build, operate, and maintain buildings to reduce the negative impacts on our environment.
You can make a difference
Many small businesses feel that they are too small to make an impact on the environment.
Many individuals feel the same.
Take a look at the following facts and you will see this is simply not true.
- A single quart of motor oil, if disposed of improperly, can contaminate up to two million gallons of fresh water.
- A 1/32-inch leak in a faucet can waste up to 6,000 gallons of water a month, or 72,000 gallons a year.
- Americans throw away 25 billion Styrofoam coffee cups every year, and 2.5 million plastic beverage bottles every hour.
- The amount of wood and paper we throw away each year is enough to heat 50 million homes for 20 years.
And, statistics such as these can go on and on.
Stone restoration and green
Traditionally the restoration, repair, and maintenance of stone and terrazzo surfaces use chemicals that are harmful to the environment and to people, in general.
Chemicals, such as polishing compounds, contain harmful acids.
Solvent-based cleaners and sealers emit harmful VOCs.
And many of these products contain carcinogens that can have serious health impacts on humans.
The procedures used to restore stone surfaces also produce a copious amount of waste and use large amounts of fresh water.
Currently, a stone restoration company is taking steps to eliminate all these harmful chemicals and processes.
This company has developed methods to restore, repair, and maintain stone surfaces, without using harmful chemicals.
In fact, the restoration and polishing of marble, granite, limestone, and terrazzo uses no chemicals at all.
A summary of their process
The floor is ground and resurfaced using a fixed diamond abrasive and water.
These abrasives are similar to sandpaper, but differ in that there is no grit removed or left behind on the floor.
The diamond abrasive is fixed to a pad.
There are no chemicals used at all.
The water used will be recycled and reused in a specially designed system.
To polish the stone or terrazzo, super-fine abrasives are used. These abrasives contain no harmful chemicals.
Many stone restoration and janitorial companies are also using floor finishes to achieve a high luster on the stone or terrazzo surface.
In addition to these finishes containing chemicals that are harmful to the environment, they also have a negative impact on the esthetics of the surface in the following ways:
- Most finishes used on stone and terrazzo are soft and tend to show wear and scuff marks in a very short time. This increase the amount of maintenance as well as cost for daily maintenance.
- All floor finishes at some point will need to be stripped off. The chemical strippers are caustic and can cause damage to the stone or terrazzo, not to mention the environmental impact.
- The old finish, once it is removed, will need to be disposed of. Most of these waste finishes are considered hazardous waste.
- Most finishes do the opposite of what they are designed to accomplish. That is they become a dirt magnet. Experiments have been conducted that show a coated surface will attract more dirt than a surface restored using a green system.
A green stone and terrazzo restoration process have no negative impact on the building environment or the occupants since no chemicals or finishes are used.
The maintenance requirement after the stone or terrazzo is restored is reduced by as much as 50 percent — saving on labor and chemicals.
Dr. Frederick M. Hueston is an internationally known stone consultant. He is the author of over 30 books and hundreds of articles on stone restoration, fabrication, and installation. He is also the founder of the National Training Center for Stone and Masonry Trades, Stone University (stoneuniversity.org) and serves as technical director for Boylan Stone Restoration (boylanstonerestoration.com).For further information on going green, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://thestonedude.blogspot.com.