Call for papers for Stone Digital’s Shaping a Sustainable Future conference

'Stone Digital – Shaping a Sustainable Future' is a new, high-level online event exploring the way forward for the stone industry.

If you would like to contribute to the debate about the future of the stone industry, submit your proposal for a paper now to [email protected]

'Stone Digital – Shaping a Sustainable Future' is a new, high-level online event for the stone industry to discuss topics such as how to meet and benefit from the requirements of Net Zero carbon emissions and the continuing evolution of the digitalisation of construction.

The event takes place online only on 22 & 23 February 2022.

The industry is undoubtedly changing at a rapid pace. Understanding and exploring those changes will help to identify the opportunities they present.

If you believe you have experiences and knowledge that could contribute to the debate, the organisers of Stone Digital would like to receive your proposal for consideration. Presentations will be of about 20 minutes and you will be required to participate in live Q&As, which will be chaired by professional presenter Susannah Streeter.

Susannah has held a number of key roles for BBC World Service, BBC World TV and BBC One Breakfast news, as well as hosting sustainability-themed conferences including the World Green Summit in Dubai.

The Stone Digital event  is being run by the organisers of the Natural Stone Show & Hard Surfaces exhibitions in conjunction with Stone Federation Great Britain.

Jane Buxey, CEO of Stone Federation, says: “Stone Federation are delighted to be supporting Stone Digital. We encourage all those in the natural stone sector to take advantage of the opportunities that Stone Digital will provide.”

Richard Bradbury, Managing Director of QMJ Group, which runs the stone exhibitions in London, says: “Decarbonisation and Digitalisation will transform the stone industry over the next decade. Join us as a speaker or panellist to share your knowledge and expertise, and contribute to the important conversation on how these challenges can be turned into opportunities for the sector.” 

Papers are invited around the themes listed below:

Sustainability – in it together

The benefits of a collaborative approach to whole-life sustainable construction from concept, through build to use. How involving the material producers, processors, and specialist contractors at an early stage can lead to more sustainable solutions involving less waste, less energy, longer life and a lower cost. A look at the Design for Performance Initiative that is intended to close the gap between what a commercial building is supposed to deliver and what it actually does deliver.

Sustainability in planning – the beauty of better buildings

Value engineering at the design stage, not randomly substituted with cheaper products by contractors; lifetime costing to include carbon content; BS 8298 for stone cladding; changes to planning white paper ‘Planning for the Future’ and subsequent proposals for National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and National Model Design Code (NMDC).

Sustainability through retrofit

Re-purposing existing buildings rather than demolishing and rebuilding can significantly cut the carbon footprint of construction – and the cost. It is estimated that 80% of the buildings we will be using by 2050, when the government’s commitment to Net Zero should be reached, have already been built. The challenge is to make them Net Zero ready.

Responsible sourcing – tackling modern slavery & supply chain management

The implications of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 for the UK stone industry; how the stone industry can contribute positively to larger clients’ modern slavery statements in annual reports and ensure the stone used in the UK is not contributing to child labour, bonded labour, or other forms of modern slavery or environmental damage.

Innovation for sustainable design – post-tensioned stone & lightweight frames

Stone is strong under compression but weak in tension. Steel is precisely the opposite. Combining the strengths of each means stone can be used in much more slender or longer sections to support structures than would otherwise be possible. From the columns on buildings such as Portcullis House, the parliamentary building facing the Houses of Parliament, and the Queen’s Building at Emanuel College Cambridge to floor-height mullions at No1 Southampton Row and stone staircases, post tensioning has enabled designers to achieve elegant solutions and provide a low carbon alternative to concrete. And innovative designs of lightweight frames supporting thin stone cladding mean the main frame of the building can be lighter, saving materials and cutting costs throughout the build.

Innovation for sustainable design – back to basics

A return to using big pieces of structural stone to build with makes good sense, both environmentally and economically. The stone can come straight from the quarry to form the frame of the building, reducing the carbon content of the structure by more than 90% and cutting the cost by 25% (compared with a steel or concrete frame in each case).

The digitalisation of stone

Digitalisation is driving and enabling sustainability, having as big an impact on the professionals and trades of the stone industry as anywhere else. The world is connected through information technology (IT). Designers’ computers are talking to manufacturers’ computers, which are talking to production machinery reporting back to management systems that keep track of the work and even automatically send out emails about delivery notes.

The different trades onsite are all working from the same digital plans and instructions, receiving updates as they are made. 3D drawings make it clear if one trade is going to impact another in a way that needs to be avoided. It reduces waste – of product, of machinery down time, of unexpected delays, of communication errors. But when it comes to computers don’t blink, or you’ll miss the next breakthrough.

The right stone for the job

Cost-cutting in construction can prove to be expensive. Many projects see stone that was carefully selected at the design stage substituted during the build, because somebody mistakenly decides something cheaper will do just as well. Or the fixing has not been designed properly. Then if the stone fails, it is the stone that is blamed, when in fact the fault is with the design or build. Using the right stone, properly selected, with the right fixing going back to a properly designed frame can produce a building that will perform as it was designed to throughout its life and provide a more sustainable solution.

  • There are full details about Shaping a Sustainable Future on the Stone Digital website, which is now live at

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