Sustainability of Natural Stone Façades
A Comparative Study


The source of the sustainability study on natural stone versus glass façades is a collaboration between Drees Sommer AG and PE International.

The study was conducted in accordance with the standards of the German Sustainable Building Council (DNGB).


Natural stone is recognized for its durability and sustainability, making it an ideal choice for contemporary architecture. This study compares the ecological and economic advantages of natural stone façades against glass façades.

Key Findings

Ecological and Economic Advantages: Natural stone façades have significant ecological and economic benefits over glass façades. They are essential for sustainable building construction aiming for DGNB or LEED certification​​

Environmental Impact Comparison: The environmental impact of glass façades is between 60% and 360% higher than that of natural stone façades across various environmental parameters such as global warming potential, ozone depletion, acidification, eutrophication, and photo-chemical ozone creation​​.

OpernTurm Façade Variants Analysis: The study includes a specific analysis of the OpernTurm in Frankfurt, comparing different façade variants. Both natural stone façade variants showed marked ecological advantages over glass façades in all considered environmental parameters. The energy requirements of glass façades were twice those of natural stone façades, and natural stone also demonstrated further ecological benefits in terms of greenhouse gas emissions​​.

Life Cycle Inventory Analysis: Over their life cycle, natural stone façades require significantly less primary energy (1743 MJ/m2) than glass façades (5854 MJ/m2). The share of renewable energy is also proportionately higher in natural stone façades. Notably, during the manufacturing phase, the overall primary energy requirements of natural stone façades are lower than those of glass façades. In the maintenance phase, glass façades use up more than eight times as much primary energy as natural stone façades due to frequent replacement cycles of their components.

Table 1: The primary energy requirements over the entire lice cycle of natural stone and glass façades in [MH/m 2 ].

Table 2: The examined types of glass façades (GF) are between 60% and 175% above those of natural stone façades (executed NSF).