Why Natural Stone Is A Sustainable Design Choice

Sandstone Slabs

Sustainable design starts with stone

Georgetown Cave Stone Chopped

Designing structures that are beautiful and sustainable is a movement that is growing. Many new materials and design options are available for your project but natural stone is a great way to add sustainable beauty and unique character to your home or commercial build.

Sustainable Design is a focus on getting more out of our natural resources. It’s a focus on limiting a building’s impact on our environment.

Design and construction of low impact and environmentally friendly buildings requires planning at the beginning of your design process but the returns from building green are worth the extra effort.

Here are 5 good reasons why stone is a sustainable design choice for your home or commercial project.

Limestone Wall Cladding

Stone is Natural

Stone is a product of the earth and mother nature’s original green building material. Natural stone requires no materials or resources to create and is in abundant supply. Stone is extremely versatile because of it’s many different textures, colors and physical characteristics. These colors, textures and characteristics make every stone installation unique.  Natural stone has no toxins or chemicals, ensuring that one element of your home environment will be safe and healthy. New commercial building construction that uses natural stone regional to a project or uses salvaged or reclaimed stone are the most common ways stone contributes to LEED points under the Materials & Resources section.

Custom Limestone columns and cladding

Stone is Recyclable

Stone is 100% recyclable and can be used many ways after it’s harvest from a quarry bed. Using recycled stone can save the water, energy and other resources used to generate new building products from raw material sources. Just a few uses for recycled stone include: fill, concrete mixture, landscaping, statuary, retaining walls, fertilizer, walkways and reuse on new construction. ASTM testing should be performed on recycled stone prior to its use in structural applications. The Natural Stone Council published a wonderful case study on ways natural stone can be reused in construction designs and in industry.

Recycled limestone

Stone is Durable

Stone is a very durable material that will stand up to years of use in a patio or age beautifully as an exterior covering. When you chose stone, you guarantee less material replacement and repairs over time. Stone tile flooring will withstand the high traffic of patios, kitchens and bathrooms for decades.

Stone may cost more than some material options, but it will outlast other products and reduce ownership costs when compared to materials that must be replaced and repaired over time. Interior and exterior Limestone applications are considered to be lifetime products that can last the entire useful life of a building according to a study by the National Association of Homebuilders.

Custom Limestone columns

Stone is Easy to Maintain

Stone will last for years with proper maintenance and care. While some natural patina coloring can develop on exterior building stone, this is easy to remove with simple water and brush cleaning if desired.  While you may elect to seal your interior stone, many exterior applications do not require sealants.

Our Stone is Quarried and Manufactured Responsibly

The quarry business has changed with advancements in technology. Innovations in extraction and fabrication methods have led to increased efficiency and lower costs for stone products. There are many more stone products being produced in quarries at an affordable price point. Stone is a more viable option for your home than ever. From water treatment and recycling programs to more energy efficient automated fabrication processes, the stone industry gets greener every year. The Natural Stone Institute curates a massive library of informational articles on the benefits of using natural stone and the relatively low environmental impacts of stone quarrying compared to other building materials like timber.


Please check out our Espinoza Stone website for more information about the myriad of stone products we produce at our 5,000 acres of Texas quarry operations.

Look Inside A Working Sandstone Quarry

Sandstone Quarry Block Loading

Inside a Texas Sandstone Quarry

I turned off Texas Highway 190 near San Saba, Texas onto a county road tightly framed by Juniper and scrub Live Oaks. That road quickly turned to a winding dirt road that led down to the Colorado River bottom.

Texas Sandstone Quarry Road

A few more twists and turns down the narrower dirt roads revealed the telltale signs of a working Sandstone quarry.  Dust rose over the piles of reddish rock and the sun glinted off metal sheds protecting stone saws and hydraulic choppers.

What’s Sandstone?

Sandstone is mainly composed of sand-size mineral or rock grains, most sandstone is primarily quartz and feldspar, which are two of the most common minerals in the earth’s crust. Like sand, it can be any color, but most commonly comes in tan, brown, yellow, red, gray and white.

The stone usually has a uniform texture and it is somewhat soft, making it user-friendly for a variety of applications. It is favored for wall claddings and flooring because of its low absorption rate, high compression strength, and pleasing appearance. Learn more about Sandstone’s properties and uses at the Building Stone Institute.

Into The Pit

Nerri, the quarry manager and a 12 year employee of Espinoza Stone, Inc., met me at the stone saws and drove me down to the beds where Sandstone slabs were being harvested. On the way to the active beds, Nerri stopped so I could take pictures of the stone layers exposed from previous Sandstone mining.

We walked down to a quarry wall where large amounts of soil and rock covering the Sandstone deposits were clearly visible. In mining terms, this layer is called the Overburden. Beneath the overburden, different layers of stone deposits were visible.

Sandstone Quarry Wall Showing Overburden

We walked down to an active quarry bed where a large loader was breaking out slabs of Red Sandstone. The loader seemed to lift the slabs out very easily.

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Sandstone is quarried differently from the Central Texas Limestone pits where large diamond-tipped blades saw checkerboard patterns into Limestone beds and excavators hammer the blocks free.

Back at the metal saw shed, two large stone saws sliced Sandstone slabs into pieces suitable for chopping.

Sandstone quarry saw

The chopped stone is moved to a staging area where the pieces are sorted by size, mixed, stacked on pallets and secured for transport. Flagstone pieces may be broken by hand in this area as well as separated again into ledgestone and patio stone pieces.

Chopped Sandstone

Semi trucks are loaded in the quarry for transport to building sites, distributors and further processing. Much of the stone produced from the San Saba mine will be mixed with Limestone and Leuders to create signature stone blends or thin veneer building stone.

Thanks for joining our walk through a Texas Sandstone Quarry and checking out our new blog.

Stay tuned for regular updates.