Albion Stone plc

The best is now even better

In July 2021 when Make Architects published ‘Comparing embodied carbon in facade systems’ (it is still available online), Portland Stone by Albion had by far the lowest embodied carbon of all eight façade products in their study. Now the best has just got better.

The latest EPD, verified in May 2024 by OneClick, shows that the embodied carbon of Portland Stone extracted at Albion Stone’s mines and manufactured at the company’s factory, (both located on the Isle of Portland in Dorset) has reduced by 68 per cent since 2020.

When considering Portland Stone by Albion alongside kiln-fired clay bricks, the embodied carbon reduction is 79 per vcent, while the reduction compared with precast concrete cladding is 81.5 per cent. It is also 100 per cent recyclable.

When compared to any other source of Portland Stone and the industry average for natural stones within Europe (that is both imported and home produced), Portland Stone by Albion shows an embodied carbon reduction of 83.3 per cent and 84.4 per cent respectively.

This massive, embodied carbon reduction is largely achieved due to the unique sustainability measures Albion Stone have implemented for more than two decades.

In 2002 we embraced new technology to open the first ever mining operation for extracting Portland Stone. Another significant development occurred in 2011 with the installation of solar panels. And we have continually improved our operations ever since. There is no greenwash here, this is one of the few building product manufacturers to continually invest in reducing its carbon footprint. For example, every company car, including the MD’s, is electric.

All this means Portland Stone by Albion has the lowest embodied carbon when compared to all the commonly used masonry façade products currently available in Britain. View Albion Stone by Albion’s website for further information.

Amin Taha’s view

Amin Taha has given dozens of talks on the subject of decarbonising our buildings. The award-winning architect makes a strong case for load-bearing stone to be used in lieu of steel or concrete frames: “Natural stone can be used for structural frames, loadbearing and self-supporting façades, again considerably dropping the embodied carbon compared to steel or reinforced concrete frames; and without the need for more material, labour and trades for waterproofing, fireproofing, insulation and cladding. Again, comparably advantageous against steel and reinforced concrete construction.”

Kilns require lots of energy

You may ask why is Portland Stone by Albion’s embodied carbon so much lower than the other well-established masonry products? In a word: heat. More accurately it is the energy required to heat the kilns used to manufacture clay bricks and concrete. While concrete is not kiln-fired during production like bricks are, the cement which is a key ingredient in its manufacture most certainly is.

The Guardian stated in 2019 that ‘Concrete is the most destructive material on earth’. It is a view shared by many, partly because approximately 8 per cent of all global CO2 emissions come from cement. We all know the construction industry needs concrete. But perhaps from an environmental perspective, there’s a case for using less of it where possible. Is continuing to use concrete (which includes precast, ‘wet cast’ and so-called ‘recon stone’), as an imitation for stone paving, stone cladding and stone dressings really your most sustainable option?

Nature’s gift for a sustainable future

Most people agree that despite their impact on the environment, steel, concrete, glazing, clay brickwork etc., are all important building products. But if, as a nation we are serious about the government’s ‘Roadmap to Net Zero by 2050’, we need to build more truly sustainable buildings. That starts with using lower embodied carbon building products.

Portland Stone’s position as Britain’s most prestigious masonry façade is indisputable. Iconic buildings such as Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral and the United Nations Headquarters in New York are testament to Portland Stone’s beauty and longevity.

It has earned a unique position as part of the Britain’s heritage. Now, these impressive figures show that Portland Stone by Albion could be as important in our nation’s future as it has been in our past.

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Jordan Poultney
Albion Stone plc
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