As far as alternative building materials are concerned, natural limestone is a classic.
During the late 1800s limestone was used extensively in building in Australia – particularly in WA where the limestone deposits are plentiful. There are so many incredible examples of limestone building in Australia, both beautiful and having stood the test of time: in Perth, the original Perth Central Fire Station (now a museum) is a mainstay of early colonial buildings; the limestone it's built from is full of character, laid down over 20,000 years and full of ancient fossil content. Here in Victoria, you can see some of the best examples of limestone buildings in Sorrento. Still standing to this day: the Mechanics' Institute (1877), Hotel Sorrento (1872), St John's Anglican Church (1875), the Athenaeum Theatre (1894) and many other both public and private buildings throughout the coastal town.
There is no doubt that building in limestone is a lasting prospect. In terms of durability, it is most definitely an eco-friendly building material and compared to wood and even brick, is not going to require a great deal of upkeep or replacement.
Limestone versus Bricks
Bricks are made from clay, which although plentiful, like limestone is nonrenewable. The clay is heated to high temperatures to harden it, which uses energy and adds to the product's carbon footprint. That said, if you live in an area with clay-rich soil and local brickmakers, the energy saved on long-distance transportation can offset the energy used in the firing process. Limestone on the other hand, comes complete in its form and ready for cutting down to size as required. Transport costs equal those of found with brick.
Limestone's thermal properties give it a big tick in terms of environmental friendliness. Its natural insulation properties make it a winner in terms of eco- and cash savings both in winter and summer. Brick requires additional insulation to work effectively. These additional products impact on build costs as well as environmental costs. Insulation comes out of a large industry with a high carbon footprint, requires extensive transport and creates a lot of plastic packaging.
Looking for a long lasting, environmentally friendly and natural Australian building material?
Limestone hits the mark. Not only are you guaranteed a long-lasting, naturally insulating product, but the end result of using limestone as either cladding, blocks or paving is a beautiful, unique and truly alternative build.