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A Journey Through Coverings 2024

May 2024 – by Dustin South

Coverings 2024 presented another great opportunity to experience the latest tile and stone trends, mingle with industry peers, and gain knowledge from successful business leaders who are innovating the future. PM Dustin South, from PICCO, was fortunate to attend this year and was excited to participate in the Natural Stone Institute (NSI) panel discussion on sustainability and its impact on the Freedom Place at Old Parkland project in Dallas, Texas. Dustin reflects on his time there.

Caption: Photos from Coverings 2024 

Arriving in Atlanta on a Tuesday evening, my Uber driver entertained me with tales of his masonry skills and his adorable dog Angel, delaying my hotel check-in but leading to a chance encounter with a client. Over dinner, we discussed business, leaving me satisfied and ready to prepare for the next day's presentation provided by Sarah Gregg, Marketing Director at the NSI. Wednesday morning, I navigated the Georgia World Congress Center, impressed by the vastness of Coverings 2024. Despite a minor registration hiccup, I made my way to room B308, where I settled into a comfy chair, eagerly awaiting the start of the panel discussion, grateful for the short walk from the entrance and the chance to finally rest my feet after exploring the expansive exhibition halls.

When Robert Barnes III, President and CEO of Dee Brown Inc., Sylvie Beaudoin, Architectural Sales Manager at Polycor, Sarah and myself had all arrived, we quickly reviewed the plans for the presentation and got mic’d up for the show. My fellow panellists were extremely knowledgeable about the subject, and there were over 100 years of natural stone experience to draw from between the four of us on the panel. The topic at hand was “Reducing Embodied Carbon with Natural Stone.”

The presentation and panel discussion focused on the comparative environmental impact of natural stone in relation to other common cladding, flooring, and countertop materials. This comparison primarily centred on the "embodied carbon" concept, quantified through Global Warming Potential (GWP) expressed in kg CO2 eq. Embodied carbon encompasses all CO2 emissions generated throughout a material's manufacturing and construction lifecycle. Natural stone demonstrates a distinct advantage over competitive materials like precast concrete, terrazzo, and engineered quartz due to its simpler production process. While natural stone involves quarrying, cutting, and shipping, these alternative materials require additional stages such as mixing, treatments, and chemical bindings, significantly amplifying their GWP impact. In fact, these processes can result in up to three times the embodied carbon of natural stone, highlighting the environmental benefits of choosing natural stone for various architectural applications.

Rob, Sylvie, and I emphasized that the longevity of natural stone compounded the advantages of its use as an environmentally responsible building material. We discussed a case study on Freedom Place initially proposed with precast concrete. Through concerted efforts, Rob and Sylvie successfully advocated for the use of natural stone, leveraging its sustainability and aesthetic appeal. While budgets were a consideration, they were outweighed by Rob’s argument that institutional buildings such as this deserve to be “built to last the test of time,” with natural stone being a proven choice for longevity.

Following the session, I bid farewell to my colleagues and headed to the convention floor, specifically seeking out stone exhibitors. Engaging with familiar contacts, I engaged in several fruitful conversations, all while efficiently clocking in my weekly step count within a few hours. Regrettably, my schedule dictated an afternoon departure for home.

"The experience proved invaluable as I forged and reinforced meaningful professional relationships during my time at the event."

Blog written by: Dustin South

Project Manager at PICCO


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