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PNA: Authentic Natural Stone Network

The Milan Design Week 2023 ended with great success, and with it came the participation of the PNA Network – Authentic Natural Stone Network – in what confirms itself as the most important diffuse event for the world of design and planning.

Placed in the heart of Superstudio Più, in Zona Tortona, the installation We are Nature, presented by PNA under the artistic direction of Danae Project in the persons of Natascia Bascherini and Federica Ghinoi, turned out to be a precious opportunity to reflect on contemporaneity and on the challenges that the stone world has accepted, first and foremost that relating to the sustainability of natural stone, placing it at the centre of its work through the promotion of virtuous projects and practices capable of truly triggering the spring of change both in the companies belonging to the Network and in the many operators in the sector.

Visited by professionals and design addicts from all over the world, PNA’s display was warmly appreciated by a public increasingly in search of creative and thought-provoking cues on the current state of the design world in relation to the theme of sustainability. At the same time, We are Nature also wanted to offer a different vision of the future, interpreting it as the expression of a community, the fruit of teamwork within which the various competences are integrated for the benefit of the common objective.

This common objective answers to the name of ‘sustainability’: explored and staged by PNA during this Design Week thanks to an interactive installation that stated in no uncertain terms the ever-growing need to live in contact with nature through natural stone, revealing its ancestral beauty and the naturalness of its bond with man . The campaign claim ‘We are Nature’ in fact drew a parallel between the uniqueness of individual stones and that of the human body: each one in its diversity is unrepeatable and not replicable. Around the ledwall cube, the protagonist of the installation, ten seats made by the Network’s partner companies with different natural stones were positioned, which testified to the visitor’s eye, the infinite variety of colours and textures that nature can offer us.

PNA’s presence at Superstudio Più was also an opportunity to officially present the first LCA study of the stone sector. Commissioned by the PNA Network to the Polytechnic University of Turin with the aim of analysing the supply chain from an environmental point of view and quantifying the average environmental impacts of Italian natural stone using the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology. On Wednesday 19 April, Paolo Marcesini, Director of Italia Circolare, and Engineer Claudia Chiappino, strategic consultants of the Network for the global issue of sustainability and moderated for the occasion by Silvia Cristofoletti of the PNA Organising Secretariat, presented to a large and attentive audience the results of this important study that offers an engineering reading on the Sustainability of Authentic Natural Stone.

Claudia Chiappino summarised the results of this first LCA for the stone industry as follows: ‘For some time now, we engineers have been convinced that Natural Stone can be an example of “true” sustainability, in relation not only to the intrinsic qualities of the material, but also to the peculiarities of its production cycle: almost total absence of chemical substances in the process, limited environmental impact on air and water,CO2 emissions practically reduced to a minimum, limited to the transport of raw materials between extraction and processing sites. To give substance to the claim, so as to confirm and surpass the qualitative perception, we felt it necessary to quantify the overall impact that a slab of Genuine Natural Stone – our finished product – has on the environment; this is why we launched ourselves into a technical challenge aimed at numbers that could explain “why we are sustainable, or more sustainable” (e.g. than competing materials). The playing field is represented by the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of the slabs produced; the “goals” represent the environmental performance of the PNA Network Companies that have now put themselves in the field by submitting themselves to the scrutiny of the experts of the Turin Polytechnic, with whom we have worked with curiosity and great expectations.

Each company participating in the project provided specific data on its production in the quarry and processing plants; the impact on climate change ranged from 6.0 kgCO2 eq/m2 to 15.0 kgCO2 eq/m2, with an average value of 7.9 kgCO2 eq/m2 (weighed against the quantities produced by each company in the reference year). Obviously, we went on to compare our results with those of other competing materials, the main one being ceramics; well, from a comparison with the published EPDs, tiles show an impact varying between 15.5 and 29.9 kgCO2 eq/m2, compared to the average impact of natural stone slabs of 7.9 kgCO2 eq/m2. We can therefore now state with full knowledge of the facts that – for the same intended use – a stone slab is environmentally more advantageous than a ceramic s lab. Looking ahead, the next ‘step’ we are aiming for is the Environmental Product Declaration (Enviromental Product Declaration/EPD) of Authentic Natural Stone, a voluntary and third-party verified certification, considered a true ‘international eco-label’ for products.”

Work therefore continues strenuously and at full pace for PNA and its member companies: the next goal to be achieved is the EPD of Pietra Naturale Autentica. The general satisfaction for these intense and meaningful days at Fuorisalone 2023 is finally sealed by the words of the President of the PNA Network, Stefano Ghirardi, who comments: “We are very proud of the interest and success of “We Are Nature”. It was important for us to tell the Fuorisalone audience about the natural sustainability of stone and its ability to combine innovation and tradition, the physical, technical, mechanical and cultural peculiarities of an exceptional and unique product, capable of winning all the matches with other materials in the field of sustainable design and construction. Each stone has its own characteristic and always conceals different details, just like the human body: unique and non-replicable pieces‘.

PNA – PIETRA NATURALE AUTENTICA Enterprise Network: was established in 2018 to promote and protect the competitiveness of Authentically Natural Stone, its values and its countless possibilities of use. PIETRA NATURALE AUTENTICA is open to all companies, entities and organisations that want to contribute to a great communication campaign in favour of authentic natural stone. All Companies and Operators in the techno-marmifera chain are called upon to lend their support to this initiative, created to respond to the demands for objective defence and promotion ofnatural stone products. naturalstoneisbetter.com