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Episode 17 – “Why Lapitec?” – Digging Deeper into the Newest Material

Discover how you can green your life by building a knowledge base of current sustainable and eco-savvy trends. This is Build Green Live Green.

This episode will dig deeper into using a new material on the market- Lapitec. We are here today with Jessica McNaughton and Kim Loftis of CaraGreen.

JESSICA:  Hi this is Jessica.

KIM: And this is Kim.

JESSICA:  We're here with CaraGreen’s podcast, Build Green Live Green and today we are talking about one of our products for which we have a lot of affinity and we believe we haven't, you know, it really hasn't even started to take hold in this market and that is Lapitec.

KIM: And when you say this market, you mean the US market.

JESSICA:  I mean the US market. It's an Italian product, it was actually invented by the people that created quartz. So, Breton is the company that basically owns patents on a lot of quartz technology, a lot of stone and quartz equipment, production equipment as well as fabrication equipment is all based on Breton technology. You know, when they really own all the underpinnings of quartz and they developed a follow-on product that addresses all the shortcomings of quartz and that is Lapitec sintered stone and up until the last few years it was largely sold and marketed in Europe and in Asia I guess, and you know, everywhere but the US.

KIM: Yeah, so and as some of you might know from our podcast on “Who is CaraGreen,” we have a marketing function. So, we help out our brands when necessary when we see, you know, that there is a need to help them out with marketing. So, for Lapitec, like Jessica said since they've largely been marketing to the European customer, consumer, designer, the language used is quite different from how we would market the same material here in the US.

JESSICA:  So Lapitec’s done a great job in their local market, building their brand, building awareness and there's a, it's probably a shortcoming of Americans, like we are not prone to subtlety. So, we feel, you know, as CaraGreen that, you know, Lapitec is such a great material and we just want to scream it from the rooftops and Americans want to hear it's screamed from the rooftops.  It’s kind of how we receive messaging. So, we've worked with Lapitec to, you know, talk about, kind of, how they're doing things versus what we may be able to do to supplement those efforts to help message it a little bit more towards, you know, our market here in the southeast.

KIM: And when we first brought Lapitec on, they had so many beautiful projects, large-scale projects, small-scale projects, indoor/outdoor, residential, commercial- basically, ran the gamut of project types that they had already completed and done, and we were very impressed by the type of work that they did, and it really aligned with what we do at CaraGreen. So, we were really excited to see how that went in our market and didn't go as quickly as we thought that it would, although there's definitely a lag time from when you bring a product on to getting specifications. So, we realized that we needed to put a little bit of a twist on it and that's when we came up with this idea for a marketing campaign called “Why Lapitec.”

JESSICA:  Right, so that's really the goal of this podcast is to tell you why. So, we're going to be launching a marketing campaign that you will see over time, just follow us @caragreenproducts, it's our Instagram handle and our website is www.caragreen.com and also you can find us on Facebook, CaraGreen. As this campaign rolls out, we're going to keep answering the question, “Why Lapitec,” what are the features of Lapitec that make it great. So, I think we should just roll through it here. There’re so many great things about it. We just need to tell our listeners why you should be using Lapitec. If you're an owner or a builder, you should be using Lapitec. If you're a homeowner you should have Lapitec in your home and if you're architect or designer, it's the right choice in surfacing material to be using and we will tell you why.

KIM: So, one of the big things about Lapitec that we've mentioned in previous podcasts, you guys have maybe heard, are that it's made 100 percent of minerals and the positive to that on a durability, longevity standpoint is that there's no resins in there and that is going to help with UV resistance. So, it can be used outside, helps with staining, etching any of those things that are kind of an issue with more traditional products like quartz, even granite, solid surfaces, things like that. So, like you mentioned before, Jessica, making up for those shortcomings of quartz, so using it in residential kitchens, you don't have to worry about wine stains, acid stains, you don't have to worry about it yellowing over time if you use it for an outdoor kitchen. So, that is a big reason residentially why people are so attracted to it. Also, because of the heat resistance. You can put your hot pot right down on that countertop and not worry about it.

JESSICA:  Right, so Lapitec is replacing granite and quartz, and these are the reasons why and when it comes to compositions, it's a man-made material like quartz. But it's basically man-made volcanic rock, so just minerals that are, you know, compressed to some degree, then fired and turned into a solid mass, which has all of these properties which we’re talking about and the fact that its man-made volcanic rock is why heat doesn't, you know, affect it. From a composition standpoint, what are the differences between what's in Lapitec versus what's in quartz. Why should I use Lapitec from an ingredient standpoint instead of quartz?

KIM: So, one of the biggest reasons why you would choose a Lapitec sintered stone over a quartz product is because of the silica content. Quartz has a very high silica content, around 90%, and Lapitec is going to have significantly less than that.

JESSICA:  Like 10% or less.

KIM: 10% or less, yeah. So, the issues around that are with silicosis, Black Lung, the fabricators, the miners that are cutting that quartz material breathe it in, get it into their lungs and your body does not process that.

JESSICA:  So, it’s the silica dust that gets up into the air that they're breathing in. There was a study, there was that Queensland study where there was 98 people that had Black Lung or miner’s disease and the youngest one, I think, was 23 years old. Anyway, so sintered stone is, ingredient-wise, it is a healthier choice. So, if you were putting this into your body, sintered stone would be like an apple instead of quartz, which is like a cupcake.

KIM: Maybe even worse than a cupcake. Yeah, so from a material ingredient standpoint, that's a really big point. It doesn't have those resins in it either. So, it doesn't have plastics added to it to bind the material together. It's just the raw minerals, like you said earlier, compressed together to form the rock.

JESSICA:  The other ingredient shortcoming of quartz is when quartz is made poorly and there are a lot of manufacturers that jumped into the quartz game that maybe didn't have the Breton process and sometimes the slabs don't cure fully and you can get residual styrene on the surface and there's been a lot of testing that shows that, you know, some of these quartz slabs have huge amounts of residual styrene, because they didn't cure completely and that is not something you want to be eating off of. And, you know, styrene is a probable carcinogen. You go from basically possible, probable, definite, and they're in the probable stage now of being a carcinogen. So, not something you want to be putting into your body. So, sintered stone actually has the opposite effect. So, what are some of the benefits of having sintered stones, say as a countertop?

KIM: So, we mentioned some of the, kind of, more aesthetic things of not staining, not etching, but from another standpoint it's actually antimicrobial. It can kill staph and e. coli on its surface. So, it's very health beneficial. From a residential standpoint, if you're cutting chicken on your countertop or spill some juice or something like that, you don't really have to be as worried. But also, from a commercial standpoint, if you're using it in a healthcare application or in schools, you know you're going to have a lot of benefits too, a material that's antimicrobial and antibacterial.

JESSICA:  Okay so, “Why Lapitec,” from an ingredient standpoint, from a health standpoint, you know, it's better for you, what about cleaning it?

KIM: So, Lapitec, we always say that it's graffiti-proof, which sounds kind of silly, but it's not because paint doesn't stick to it, it's because it can be cleaned very easily. Again, some of the properties that we mentioned earlier make it very easily cleanable. So, you kind of have that from the get-go, it is just kind of a built-in feature of Lapitec for not having those resins and things like that in it.

JESSICA:  Because it's a solid mass, so cleaning it- It also has hydrophilic properties, which we don't have to get too much into that. But basically, what that means is water is going to easily spread across its surface and lift any residual dirt. So, there's not going to be buildup, because that water will easily clean it. So, you don't need as many detergents, you need half the cleaning materials that you would. So, like a facilities manager, think about a flooring application where you're cleaning with Lapitec, or the exterior of a building, using half the cleaning that you would, I mean that's so desirable. So, it's effectively self-cleaning right. Especially when used like cladding, exterior cladding.

KIM: Yeah so, you're saving money and you're saving product.

JESSICA:  And you're saving time.

KIM: Right, lots of things. So, Jessica, you mentioned exterior cladding. What is a great benefit of exterior cladding aside from the cleanability when it comes to Lapitec?

JESSICA:  Right, so Lapitec is in a class of its own in stone when it comes to exterior cladding. It has a hydrophilic surface which we mentioned earlier, so, rain, you know, water running down, cleaning it, it's going to be very easy. It's not going to hold on to that dirt and grime like other surfaces will. But Lapitec has a unique technology integrated called Bio-Care and there's a great video on Bio-Care on YouTube. It's Bio-Care, if our listeners want to watch it. But it shows these unique properties that Lapitec designed into it from the get-go. So, when Lapitec was being innovated, there was a look at what technologies are out there that are going to help address environmental issues as well as these health issues. So, it was really a long-term play when Lapitec was being innovated. But Bio-Care technology runs throughout the entire body of the slab and it is a titanium dioxide-based technology that, when UV light hits it, it reacts with the air and it breaks down pollutants. So, NOx, carbon dioxide, it performs like a tree in an urban setting. So, a hundred square meters of Lapitec is going to behave the same way as twenty-six trees. So, it's going to break down that carbon dioxide and those pollutants and even interior, you know I'm talking about cladding now. But even as a flooring, it's going to break down odors. So, you have a dog, smelly kids, husband, you know, it's going to break down odors in that space. So, you know, depending on what kind of facility it's in, even a hospital, you know, having something that can actively break down odors. So, that Bio-Care technology was a, it was an innovation that is unmatched in the industry and it's something that Lapitec did so that it would be effective both indoors and out and give back to the built environment. So, imagine buildings in cities like London or Hong Kong where there's just so much pollution and Lapitec can clad a building and actually perform like a forest in that setting. I mean, it's unheard of and it really is the surface of the future.

KIM: And I think this point right here is one of the biggest reasons why we wanted to take our hand at the marketing piece of Lapitec, because every time we talk about this aspect, cleaning the air, odor reducing, people look at us like, “really are you sure? Is that really accurate?” And we always point them to the video like you’ve done for our listeners.

JESSICA: And the study.

KIM: Yes, for sure. But I think that this is one of those things where we really have to make sure that people understand the greatness of this material. So, another reason “Why Lapitec,” because it cleans the air, we're not kidding.

JESSICA:  Right, so you've got this material with all these “whys'” right? It's stronger, it's more durable, it holds up to heat, it's frosts resistant, stain resistant. Yeah, it can be used indoors, outdoors, landscape architects should be all over Lapitec. The ASLA, the landscape architect’s society, they should be clamoring to get their hands on sintered stone.  Landscape architecture has been waiting for a new innovative material, they've kind of been hamstrung with what they've had at their disposal. Exterior cladding, Hardie Board- they want something else, you know, and Lapitec has not only given them a better aesthetic with these beautiful textures and you see a lot of, you know, these tiled exteriors that some of these European buildings, but that will inevitably make its way to the US. So, you know, part of “Why Lapitec” is because we always copy what Europe does, just ten years later.

KIM: Another thing about Lapitec that I want to mention for everybody listening is the aesthetics of it. So, because Lapitec is made from minerals, it has a fairly neutral color palette and, in my opinion, that makes it a very classic look. So, they're not doing these, you know, elaborate printed patterns and things that are going to be outdated in ten years. So, when I think about some of the things that landscape architects do, they need to create something that is going to last a lifetime that's going to be very, kind of, monumental and classic and the places where they're putting their ideas and their structures and Lapitec is perfect for that, not only because of the look, but because it truly will last a lifetime. It's just such a durable material, because of all the things that we've mentioned and that's another great, kind of, sustainable aspect of the product is that you're not going to have to replace that over and over and over again.

JESSICA:  Right, and that's a huge selling point. One of the interesting things that we've run into as we've had owners and developers talking to us about their new developments and what they're looking to do and why is that there's these sustainable real estate investment trusts, or REITS, and they are allocating dollars to buildings and developments that are focused on the occupants of those spaces. So, whether it's a multi-use or like a multifamily development with, you know, mixed-use, you've got, or just an office building or a co-working space, there are these investment funds that are looking to invest in or give money to owners and developers who want to build spaces that give back to the occupants of that space. Lapitec is the perfect material for that. It gives back to the environment outside by breaking down pollution and it gives back to the environment inside by increasing durability, less caustic detergents that are needed to clean it. So, it's going to be a safer space and then less overall detergents needed to clean it, less time to clean it and, you know, the inability to be damaged, so you don't have to replace it. So, it really is an investment in, you know, an ongoing sustainable structure that's going to give back to the building occupants and it's being recognized from funding all the way down to the facilities manager, not to- by any means, that is often the decision-maker, is the facilities manager. They want something that works for them, too. So, you know, consider that guy. The same way the other big “Why Lapitec” is, “hey, look this is healthier for the people cutting it. You know, OSHA just started regulating quartz and requiring people to use wetcutting and stuff like that because of this exposure to dust. So, the “Why Lapitec” is because they innovated with everyone along the process in mind. From the people that would end up using it to the people that make it. They've considered all parties involved and they created a surface that really is the surface of the future.

KIM: Yeah so, we hope that you guys will follow along with us on our marketing campaign on social media. We mentioned our Instagram handle earlier @caragreenproducts. You can find us on Facebook as well, we're also on Pinterest, LinkedIn and of course our podcast and our blog, you can find some more information there.  But we hope that you have understood “Why Lapitec.” Please reach out to us if you have any other questions about the material as well.

JESSICA:  This is Jessica.

KIM: And this is Kim.

JESSICA:  Thanks for listening to Build Green Live Green. 

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