Episode 159: Greener Countertops Using Quartz with CaesarStone
Green Talk Radio host Sean Daily speaks with Ed Rodgers of Caesar Stone about the use of quartz, one of natures hardest stones, to create brand new surfacing and counter top products.
Sean Daily: Hi and welcome to Green Talk, a podcast series from greenlivingideas.com. Green Talk helps listeners in their efforts to lead more eco friendly lifestyles through interviews with top vendors, authors and experts from around the world. We discuss the critical issues facing the global environment today, as well as the technologies, products and practices that you can employ to go greener in every area of your life.
Sean Daily: Hey everybody, and welcome to Green Talk Radio. This is Sean Daily. Today we’re going to be talking on green building and specifically on surfacing materials, something we haven’t spoken about before on the program. My guest today, to be discussing this with me is Ed Rodgers, who is the director of business development for Cesar Stone US, a company that was the original pioneer of the use of Quartz, which is one of nature’s hardest materials for surfacing products. I think we’re going to find out from Ed a little bit about the environmental sustainability factor around Quartz and the company itself. So, Ed I think, well first of all, I want to welcome you to the program.
Ed Rodgers: Well thanks Sean, glad to be here, and thanks for having us on.
Sean Daily: I think what we’d really like to do today is have you help us understand the differences in these different surface material choices in building projects, and also specifically in terms of their environmental impact, as well as their value as building materials. So…
Ed Rodgers: Absolutely.
Sean Daily: Okay, well if that sounds good, lets just start by maybe telling us a little bit, in your estimation why Quartz would be superior, I assume you consider it superior, as a surface material versus other options that we more commonly see, like marble or granite.
Ed Rodgers: Absolutely. I mean I think there are a number of factors for your listeners and the consumers in general to consider with surfacing materials. What’s specific in regard to Quartz, there are a lot of attributes to the material that make it a great choice for consumers to look at. You’re talking about a very low maintenance product. You’re talking about something that is completely inert. You’re talking about materials that are non porous, so they don’t support the growth of any bacteria’s, molds, mildews, which we’re all concerned about. So there is a wide variety of things that are, that the consumer should look at when making their selection.
Sean Daily: Is Quartz more expensive than those other materials?
Ed Rodgers: I think when you look at everything in general, you know, obviously laminate would be kind of the entry level price point for most people. When you start to look at the hard surfaces, which would include granites, marbles, Quartz, all of those things are priced relatively the same. They will be a little higher than solid surface materials such as quariane, but I think generally what they really provide and I think what most people are interested in today is a great value. And I think those materials certainly fit the bill.
Sean Daily: Now I’ve done a little bit of research in preparation for this podcast interview with you today, and I am the farthest thing from any sort of an expert on the topic, but I wanted to find out from you a little bit about engineered versus natural Quartz and what the difference is there.
Ed Rodgers: Well, natural Quartz is basically a mineral. It comes generally as a byproduct from other mining operations. So essentially it’s a vain that’s inside a boulder, if you will. You’ll also find small amounts of Quartz in things such as granite. So you don’t find Quartz naturally in a state that can be suitable for making a countertop so to speak. So as a manufacturer, we take that raw material and then we create essentially a slab that fabricators actually turn into a finished countertop. So that’s really the difference. We are using a natural material. Quartz countertops and Quartz surfacing are comprised of 93 percent natural Quartz, but we’re taking it from its original state and turning it into something else, if that makes sense.
Sean Daily: Okay. So it’s a harder material, and you mentioned that it was less porous than some other materials. Lets talk about the environmental sustainability side…
Ed Rodgers: Sure.
Sean Daily: specifically for green builders and homeowners that want to build green homes or remodel in a more green fashion. What are some of the, what are some of Quartz product attributes that specifically apply to sustainability?
Ed Rodgers: Well I think first off, obviously even at the very beginning when it starts out really as the raw material, which is the Quartz itself, whether it’s in an aggregate form or it’s in a very fine form such as silica, which is sand, from the very beginning we are taking a material that would be considered a waste byproduct from other operations and really converting it into something that’s useful, so that material is not going to find its way into a landfill. Then when you look at the fact that, and I think most manufacturers in our industry have this certification, indoor air quality. People are concerned about that. We all heard recently about some scares with other materials. It’s a completely non porous product. There’s not off gassing to the material. It has a tremendous life cycle. So that countertop that you purchased today will be in your home looking as good and still functioning the way it should 30 years from now. So there are a lot of, there a lot of aspects to the product that address the sustainability issue.
Sean Daily: So is this just for countertop surfaces or is it beyond that, as I know there’re some Quartz flooring products out there, like what Knight has, is that something you guys get into?
Ed Rodgers: Absolutely. I, you know, the vast majority of what quart surfacing is used for is obviously countertops. But it can also be used for wall clatting, vertical for example, showers, tub surrounds. The material has been used residentially and commercially for flooring. It has tremendous uses beyond just being a countertop.
Sean Daily: So you mentioned about, I assume you’re talking about reusability of the material, and is that common that, you know, lets say end of life, somebody does a remodel where they had Quartz countertops and, for example, and how does that usually happen, you know, with the material being able to be reused, versus not going into the landfill?
Ed Rodgers: Well, it certainly can be. The one thing that you have to keep in mind is that within the surfacing industry, Quartz is a relatively new product. While we’ve been manufacturing it worldwide for about 20 years, it’s only been in the US for probably about the last ten. So fabricators, certainly if you chose to remove the countertop, if you chose to remodel your kitchen, you know, fabricators can easily rework that countertop and use it in other applications for you. Although I think now, it’s probably a stretch to say that that happens all the time, just because it’s such a young industry, and people are buying this product because it can be there essentially for the life of the home and for as long as they want to have it there.
Sean Daily: I’m wondering about Lead projects, have you guys been used or featured in any premier sort of Lead projects that are out there, but are either residential or commercial?
Ed Rodgers: Absolutely, it’s funny you should mention that. As you know that within lead, I mean Lead is certainly one piece of the whole sustainability picture. We were actually featured in a project called Project 7 Ten in California, which actually came in under the Lead pilot program for homes. And while I think Lead still is a work in progress and it doesn’t really deal with products, per se, there’s more recognition all the time about the various materials that are out there, and as they continue to update the standards, they’re addressing more of the, you know, wide variety of products that are available. But yeah, we’ve been very instrumental in working in that project on the residential side, which now Lead For Homes is an actual program. And we’ve done numerous projects throughout the country commercially. We get calls everyday from architects with regards to where do we fit into the Lead program, and where we fit in obviously is under materials and resources, as well as under the indoor air quality with our Green Guard Certification.
Sean Daily: I wanted to mention too while you were talking about that, I was not familiar with the Project 7 Ten site, it’s interesting. It’s, as you mentioned, the first conventional constructed platinum Lead home in California…
Ed Rodgers: Yup.
Sean Daily: For those who want to check that out, pretty interesting, it’s Project 7, the number seven and, ten….
Ed Rodgers: The number seven and then the word ten.
Sean Daily: Right, because otherwise you’re going to get onto an after school program founded by college students in Hobs New Mexico. So…
Ed Rodgers: Well, you know, I am from New Mexico, so I can appreciate that.
Sean Daily: Well there you go. There’s a lot happening with the number 710 with people from New Mexico for some reason. Okay, well we’re going to find, we’re going to take a quick break right here Ed, and then we’ll be back. I want to talk a little bit more after the break about the company itself and what you guys are doing, ‘cause I know you consider yourselves a leader in sustainability and environmental issues beyond just the product, so we want to hear about that. And we’ll take a break, yeah, right here on Green Talk Radio. Thanks everybody for joining us, and we will be right back.
Sean Daily: And we’re back on Green Talk Radio. This is your host Sean Daily, talking today on green building and sustainable surface manufacturing and sustainable surfaces. And I’m talking with Ed Rodgers, who is the director of business development for a company called Cesar Stone USA, where you can find online at Caesar, spelled like the emperor, c-a-e-s-a-r, stone, US, dot com. Ed we were talking before the break about the products, the Quartz space products and the idea of using Quartz and some of the sustainability, environmental issues around that, or benefits around that. I wanted to hear a little bit about the company itself. I know you guys consider, as you can probably imagine, I talk to a lot of companies on this program, and there is a sort of implied vetting process that occurs, whether I like it or not, with regards to companies having at least an opportunity to talk about why they think they’re green, because, you know, everybody thinks they’re green, but…
Ed Rodgers: Sure.
Sean Daily: I certainly want to give you guys an opportunity to, to vet yourselves as it were, so tell us what Caesar Stone was doing with regards, both internally and externally, with regards to sustainability in environmental issues.
Ed Rodgers: Well I think internally, and to a large degree externally, you know, we’re very proud of the fact that we are the only quart surfacing manufacturer to have received ISO 14,000 certification. And I don’t know if your listeners are really familiar with that, but ISO, they’re probably more familiar with ISO 9000. But ISO 14…
Sean Daily: Quality, which is, yeah, that’s the quality one, and ISO 14,000 one is the environmental management.
Ed Rodgers: Exactly, it’s the environmental management system, and, you know, that is a tremendous process to undergo as a manufacturer, in order to be able to recognize all of the areas that you can impact the environment in, and to develop a management system in order to address those things. So, you know, we’re very proud of that. It really has forced us as a manufacturer to take a very critical look at all of the things that we can control as a manufacturer from waste, water, emissions, recycling, and its been a tremendous benefit for us as a manufacturer, as well as the individuals that are apart of our company. So we’re very proud of that. In addition to that, we have received numerous certifications from third parties, so you don’t just have to take my word for it. But for example, Green Guard…
Sean Daily: A previous guest on this program, as a matter of fact.
Ed Rodgers: Ah! So we hold, we hold two Green Guard certifications; the standard certification and then what is still at this point in time probably the most stringent in terms of indoor air quality, which is for children in schools. So we’re very pleased with that. That really relates to lower, no VOC emitting materials in the product, essentially no off gassing. We have achieved an NSF 51 certification, which for most people doesn’t really come into play except on the commercial side, but what it tells you as a consumer is that our material is perfectly safe for direct food contact, will not support the growth of any kind of bacteria’s, mold or mildew. Since we are manufactured in Israel, we are a kosher product. We’ve also received the, and the only one to receive the Good Housekeeping seal of approval. So, yeah, we’re very, we’re very proud of our track record, and we’re not going to rest on our morals. I mean we look at everyday what we can do to further enhance, you know, our contribution to the environment and to the sustainability issues because it affects each and every one of us, there is not doubt about that.
Sean Daily: Great. What about the future for you guys, what’s coming up?
Ed Rodgers: Well, you know, I think the future for us is right now our industry in general is we’re looking at a lot of various recycled product where we will introduce other materials, such as the most popular being recycled glass, mirrors, you know, there’s a tremendous amount of that type of material available, so that’s something that we’ve been doing for several years, but we intend to enhance that. We’re starting to look into, you know, our product is made up of about 7 percent resin, so we’re looking at things such as corn soy based resins to introduce into the product. So there’s a lot going on with us. A lot of this stems from our ISO 14,000, which is really a benchmark and a continuous improvement for us as an environmental partner. We recycle, everything that we ship our material on is using recycled material, so anything that we can do that’s within our power to do, we certainly intend to do that as a manufacturer.
Sean Daily: Now how extant is this material in surfacing products, meaning if somebody goes out to their builder or their remodeler and says, “Hey, I want this Quartz stuff I heard about on Green Talk Radio”, are they going to be able easily find it or is it sort of difficult to find in source?
Ed Rodgers: No, absolutely not. I mean you can find this material anywhere in the country. Some of the best places to look would be to look at all the independent kitchen and bath dealers, the remodelers that your customers may be working with, stone fabricators who also do Quartz. We’re also pleased to be a partner with Ikea, The Great Indoors, so, yeah, it’s readily available, it’s not something that you have to wonder where you’re going to be able to go see it.
Sean Daily: So you’re through the big box guys as well?
Ed Rodgers: Well only from our standpoint, no, yeah, you could get a competitive produce, you can certainly see our material Quartz in Home Depot, Lowes, I mean we’re out there everywhere. Not us specifically. We tend to do business with the independent retailers, the independent fabricators, we have about 10,000 kitchen and bath dealers around the US, and close to 4,000 fabricators, so we’re not hard to find. And actually you mentioned our website earlier. You can certainly as a consumer go to our website. There is a dealer database there that will give you all the dealers within your geographic area where you can go see the material.
Sean Daily: And I’ll mention that website one more time for listeners, it’s caesarstoneus.com, c-a-e-s-a-r, stone, US, dot com. And Ed Rodgers, who is the director of business development for Caesar Stone has been my guest today talking about Quartz surface materials and green building. And Ed we really appreciate you being on with us today.
Ed Rodgers: Absolutely, my pleasure Sean.
Sean Daily: Thanks as always to everyone listening in today. Remember for more free on demand podcasts, articles, videos and other information related to living a greener lifestyle, visit our website at www.greenlivingideas.com. We’d also love to hear your comments, feedback and questions. Send us an email at [email protected]