Friday, July 16, 2010

green alternatives to granite countertops

 Granite is a completely NON-renewable resource. It takes a lot of energy to mine and transport and manufacture it from all over the world and the miners may not be provided with proper protection or given fair wages or treatment.
It is time to consider the environmentally friendly alternatives. 
Please don't rip out a perfectly good granite to replace it with a green alternative!
If you must replace a countertop or building a new kitchen, there are several green alternatives to granite and I have my favorites listed below.
IceStone® surfaces are the ideal choice if you are searching for an eco-friendly, green countertop,  backsplashes, bathroom vanities, table tops, bar tops, interior walls, and commercial flooring applications.  IceStone surfaces can be mounted vertically or horizontally. Beautiful shower and bathtub surrounds and kitchen sinks can be made with IceStone.
You choose from 29 available colors. At this time custom color options are available for commercial projects only.

100% Recycled glass makes up 75% of the product. Cement bonds the glass together, and requires sealing annually (similar to granite counter tops) 
Just like granite, prolonged excessive heat can break the seal, but it will not crack like granite. The product is plastic free and VOC-free, Petrochemical free. The company constantly is improving their green attributes. 


 Images from Icestone official website.

As far as green certifications and processes, IceStone has received MBDC’s Cradle to Cradle Silver Certification* for the IceStone durable surface, and the production processes used to produce it. IceStone compares their pricing to mid-to-high end granite, and notes that fabrication and installation very depending on your local contractor rates.

Vetrazzo® is 85% glass, and all the glass they use is recycled - so it really is good for the environment and has been certified by NSF International

Images from vetrazzo official website.  

Vetrazzo is comparable to granite in strength, scratch resistance, heat resistance, durability, and care & maintenance. Acidic subtances such as lemon juice, vinegar, red wine will leave a stain in the concrete areas if not cleaned up right away. However like aged marble or wood, signs of living can enhance the look. Resealing is recommended every year. Just like granite, prolonged excessive heat can break the seal, but it will not crack like granite.It is already broken glass afterall.

I have visited the plant in Richmond California and it is surprisingly clean! The product color pallette is gorgeous and the employees look happy.
Their view on sustainability is posted

Stainless Steel is seen in many contemporary residential or commercial applications. You can have a seamless countertop. It is durable, easy to clean and looks great for a long time. However, it is a bit on the pricey side and you could cause a dent, but cannot be cut or cracked due to heat.
Steel is the most recycled material, so look for recycled steel, because mining and refining it uses a large amount of energy and pollutes the environment.

You should look for a reputable local manufacturer/installer to reduce your cost.

 Concrete is one of the most customizable choice.
It is often cast right in your kitchen or bath. Good option for fireplaces also. It also may have a higher price tag.
Resistant to heat and scratches, it can be color-tinted. It is very important to have it sealed and seal annually. There are new treatments that eliminate cracking; additives reduce porosity; new finishes are more decorative and you can have it tinted or have anything embeded to create a unique and exotic look for you.
Mid to high range on cost due to custom work. For a green concrete, ask for fly ash which is a byproduct of the coal industry and the aggregate should be of recycled variety to be counted as green.

 photos from Cheng Concrete design gallery

You should also ask for low-VOC sealers. Again a reputable manuafcturer should be able to provide you with a beautiful green alternative. So do some reasesach before commiting yourself to one.


  1. Looks beautiful! I love the way you tracked the entire process and took photos of everything, this is very helpful. Kitchen Countertops

  2. Thank you for sharing! That is absolutely beautiful. I just love the glass mosaic counter tops so much so I had to call granite countertops Weymouth MA to see if they could do mine!

  3. Thanks, you guys that is a great explanation. keep up the good work in your blog.
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