Generally when people write about green building products they laud the aspects of the product. Seldom do they let you peek into how deep a company’s colors run. In the case of IceStone, a manufacturer of ecofriendly durable surfaces, they bleed dark green through out their company ethos from manufacturing to their stance on social responsiblity.
Simply put, this company is a poster child for sustainability. Just in case, the world doesn’t get the virtues of IceStone they backed it up with obtaining MBDC’s Cradle to Cradle™ Gold certification with a third party audit, which is no easy feat. In addition, the Company is a certified B corporation.
What Exactly is Icestone?
IceStone durable surfaces are made of 75% pre and post-consumer glass, pigment, and 25% Portland cement. (The recycled glass is predominantly pre-consumer.) The cement is the binder that holds the slab together. Some other engineered stone products contain petrochemical binders for their aggregates.
In addition, the use of this product can earn credits toward LEED certification.
According to the Company, the product rivals granite. Its dimensional beauty is undeniable. So much that IceStone’s customers who have purchased slabs have diverted over 10 millions pounds of glass from landfills since 2003.
All surfaces are made in Brooklyn, NY and the cement is sourced from York, Pennsylvania. IceStone can used in many residential and commercial applications such as kitchen countertops, bath vanities, bar tops, conference tables, reception areas and window sills.
How Do You Properly Use the Product?
The Company does not recommend placing a hot pot on their surface. In fact, they even discourage putting a hot plate on granite, which I am totally of guilty doing. Just like granite, one should clean up any liquids or stains on the slabs. Portland cement is porous so staining could occur.
What about scratching? When I think of glass, I immediately think of scratching. The Company stated that scratching is not an issue unless you take a key and run it across the surface. (We all know what a key does to a car. Ouch.)
Maintenance and Care
The product should be sealed and waxed every 6 months to a year depending on use. I asked Sarah Corey, marketing manager at the Company, how do you know when it is time to seal the slab. She explained if you put water on the slab and it beads up, you can go a bit longer without sealing. However, don’t wait too long. If the water sinks into the slab, it is time to seal.
IceStone provides a list of cleaner, sealers, and wax products for use. One of the products, H2O, I used on my own granite. Sarah advised that solvent based sealers will hold up longer than water based. Seek the recommendation of a professional before choosing which product is best for your application.
What about Cracking?
I was concerned with cracking since it is an old rule of thumb that when two different aggregators are used, they expand and contract at different rates. In this case, Portland cement and glass. The Company stated that they have perfected their manufacturing and process so that cracking is virtually eliminated. As mentioned above, all slabs are created in Brooklyn rather than overseas so that the Company can keep a tight control on how the product is made.
How Much Does it Cost and Where can I find it?
The Company maintains a location search box of its showroom and distributors in the US and Canada on its website. Sarah explained the cost varies based on location and mix. However, as a general rule, a square foot costs $90 to $120 a square foot. The cost may decrease in certain areas but freight cost must be taken into account since the product is sourced in Brooklyn. At this point in time, the Company does not have a west coast production facility.
What is Cradle to Cradle Certification?
I use turn my green nose up at this certification since in my opinion, it wasn’t very transparent. Who the heck knew how anyone got certification? One of its founders, William McDonough, had received some pretty harsh criticism. In 2009, the founders gifted the certification analysis to a not for profit Cradle to Cradle Products Innovative Institute.
In order to receive cradle to cradle certification, there are certain criteria you need to meet for each level. Without going into great depth, the following areas must meet certain criteria: material health, material reutilization, energy use, water use, and social responsibility. After the audit is completed, it is verified by partner third parties. Many of the companies listed on their site obtained a basic or silver certification. However, several obtained a gold certification like Icestone: Certain Aveda products, Rain Tube, and certain Steelcase and Herman Miller chairs.
For PDF seminar of about C2C certification and how Icestone received the gold standard, see here. The webinar is on AEC Daily, a website which provides free continuing eduction for architects and LEED APs. (Note, you will have to sign up with AEC Daily free of charge to access the seminar.) I viewed this course for my own LEED maintenance and commend Icestone for a through presentation.
In addition to its green product, the Company prides itself on the green operation of its facility and its social mission. With regards to the facility,
- a 90% of their waste is recycled, re-purposed or composted.
- Installed skylights to insure natural daylighting to reduce electrical consumption
- Offset of 100% of their energy with renewable energy credits
- State of the art water recycling system with the sediment being compacted and recycled for agricultural purposes.
- Used glass and cement is reused for roadbeds.
Their employees receive living-wages, health benefits, education programs and life-skills training. Beyond the factory, the Company donates materials and time.
“IceStone’s donation program provides free or discounted material to projects that share similar social and environmental goals, with Habitat for Humanity receiving annual donations. We also partner with community, nonprofit, academic, industrial assistance and local social services groups to promote green-collar job creation, sustainable business practices, and the development of the green building industry. Finally, this year we worked through the NYC Pencil Program and adopted a K-5 school, and worked with them to create a curriculum on sustainability for their Fifth Graders.”
Join the Conversation
- Have you or would you use this type of product in your residential or commercial building?
- If you do have this product, how has it held up? Maintenance woos?
- Would cost deter you?
- Does the C2C designation and B corporation certification increase your likelihoods of buying this product?
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