Green Counter Top Options

I realize concrete has huge embodied energy and creates tonnes of CO2 during it’s manufacture but I still can’t resist reading up on the uses of concrete for residential interior applications.

Eco Brooklyn is guilty of making some concrete counters too.

I just read Concrete at Home by the concrete fanatic Fu-Tung Chen. He has definitely cornered the market on interior concrete applications with his little empire of books, CD’s and concrete products. He took a highly expensive niche service and made it available to the masses.

With his products pretty much any contractor can make a concrete counter top for their client at reasonable prices.

So why would a green contractor like me be obsessed with a product that clearly contributes to our ecological problems? Concrete is possibly the largest producer of CO2 in the list of toxic building practices.

There is something deeply satisfying about building a concrete counter. It is an artistic process with real practical applications and such a combo is bliss.

Here are the pros and cons as I see it.


It is manufactured on site, keeping transport costs low and money local.

It lasts a long time, reducing future resource depletion.


It creates a lot of CO2.

It has a lot of embodied energy.

Concrete plants cause large environmental damage.

I don’t think the Pros outweigh the Cons…..which causes a dilemma for me. I have upcoming concrete jobs and eagerly look forward to them. Next week we are building a double sink counter for a bathroom that will be undulating like a wave. It will be made into a dark polished concrete counter that should look truly beautiful.

Obviously concrete counters made on site are better than any new counter on the market. I don’t care if it is Paperstone, Icestone or any recycled counter. They all use vast amounts of energy to produce. They are shipped all over the place. They are pretty low on the green scale in my eyes no matter what their sales rep says.

The only truly green counter is salvaged wood made by a local carpenter. After that it would be salvaged marble or granite. The difference between salvaged products are little. Anything salvaged is good as long as it isn’t toxic like a plastic counter or something that would hurt the users. But salvaged wood trumps marble in NY because there is a lot more salvaged wood available and thus less chance that it will be depleting resources and causing more demand for new wood. If you deplete the scarce amount of salvaged stone then you quickly increase demand for new quarried stone.

So what is a Brooklyn green contractor to do? Keep reading. Keep searching. We still have a little time before the planet is completely destroyed.

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Posted in All Posts, Energy, Recycled, Review, Review - Products
One comment on “Green Counter Top Options
  1. satjiwan says:

    I’ve been a big fan of tiled-in-place counters. Depending on the tiles, can be much lower embodied energy, hopefully locally/regionally made, could be salvage/surplus materials, relatively inert ingredients, less weight/material/energy than thicker concrete, can be inexpensive and comes in a variety of design/color/style options.

    You do need to convince people they can live with grout lines and have a good installer to make sure grout lines are minimal and sealed well. (however, with just about every other counter you need to do some maintenance or worry about heat or what liquids can be safely left on the surface.)

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