By Jessica McNaughton
Looking for the latest and greatest in countertops? You can find yourself running like a lemming toward the school of thought that says quartz is the best option because it “performs better than granite.” But a discerning customer should have the foresight to ask the questions: “Where does this come from?” or “How is this made?”
Quartz is not progressive. It is decidedly dated. It has become commoditized, is largely sourced from China and often private labeled by stone fabricators in an effort to put more money in their pockets. There are quite literally hundreds and hundreds of quartz suppliers in the market. There are certainly reputable companies, but they are vastly outnumbered by copycats with the exact same colors and designs.
The true thought leaders in the industry are not racing to the bottom. They are innovating for the future by finding smarter, healthier and more sustainable ways to provide a surfacing product that has a positive impact on the environment and respects the desires of new homebuyers who inherently care about the environment.
True innovation is found in products that have a story. Pulling materials that would otherwise go to waste and incorporating it into a durable and beautiful product is not a simple task, but it has been mastered by a handful of truly progressive companies. This is not an easy feat, and many underachievers have fallen by the wayside attempting to enter this market and failing due to poor manufacturing, improper testing or misrepresentations.
But the survivors – the companies that jumped on the green bandwagon a decade ago and continued to adapt, improve and innovate – are the true winners, and the true “new” products. These are the survivors that have withstood the tests of LEED, greenwashing critics, and others who shot holes through all the half-baked product attempts that didn’t weather the punishing storm of sustainability critics.
Who are the Green Countertop Survivors? It is a unique class of companies, some of which include IceStone, PaperStone, Vetrazzo and Durat modern solid surface. Additionally, there are new product categories that are addressing sustainability in a different way – not by logging recycled content or bio-based content– but by providing a manufacturing technique that is low energy or low impact or presenting a longer lifetime option with greater durability. Sintered stone is a great example of how performance and durability are moving up the list of desirable attributes.
We are in the age of the survivors from the green wave, and they are legitimate and strong and great options. This intersects with the entrée of the new sustainability age of durability and low impact – resulting in a new family of modern surfaces that shelves quartz and stone in the commodity aisle where they belong.
About the Author
Jessica McNaughton is the President of CaraGreen, a distributor of sustainable materials, and co-authored the book Understanding Green Building Materials. She has her Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering and her MBA from the Ivey Business School. She is also a LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP).
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in guest editorials are those of the author’s and do not necessarily (although in some cases may) represent the views of the publisher, editor or owner of this website.