Using the words; Environmentally Friendly Brickwork may seem counter intuitive and i will endeavor to explain. We as consumers are becoming increasingly aware about the manufacture of products used within the construction industry today. One of the biggest products used in cladding today are bricks. The term “Environmentally Friendly Brickwork” can be used due to the introduction of modern production practices. All materials used in the construction industry are bound to have some environmental impact, the key is to try and minimize the impact to give everyone a sustainable future.
Environmentally Friendly Brickwork
The introduction of modern natural gas fired kilns and the great emphasis on heat recovery and the recycling of any waste clay materials have greatly reduced the impact on the environment. It is no coincidence that bricks are the first product within the construction industry to be verified under BRE Global’s recently launched EN15804 Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) scheme. Full details of this award are detailed at Brick Development Association website and can be found HERE.
Construction using any building material has some impact on the environment and this cannot be denied. Effects can occur in production, transport, distribution, the building process, service or disposal. The construction industry in general has a great awareness of these impacts and many improvements are being made. We cannot be complacent and we need to reinforce good practice when using any building materials.
Embodied Energy is a term used to measure the sum total of energy that is required during a products entire life-cycle. Now bricks are high up on this list due to the manufacturing process, but we have to take into account the longevity of the bricks life-cycle. Many brick buildings will still be standing in 150 years time. If brick buildings are maintained and cared for; the life-cycle of the bricks can be prolonged way past this point.
The University of Bath recently issued a revised document on this subject if you would like exact details on the CO2 impact of clay materials and can be found HERE
One of the ways we can all reduce the impact of brick production on the environment is to reduce the wastage of bricks on-site. There are a few simple rules that all construction sites should be used to greatly reduce this often criminal attitude towards recycling.
- Unloading – All packs of Bricks should be unloaded by a Forklift
- Storage – All Bricks should be stored in a well prepared and level area.
- Protection – All bricks should be protected from spillage, splashing and the rain.
Recycling of Bricks
Recycling has become a very popular word in the last few years and has become common place were old buildings have been demolished. Often these old bricks have many years of life in them and can be used in the building of new structures. Often these old buildings will contain very detailed special bricks and these can be used to build some very interesting features into a new build. The rest can be crushed and used as aggregates for the construction industry.
New bricks that have been damaged or become unsuitable for purpose, can be used in areas of the building that are not visible, such as level adjustment courses and partition walls. Sadly, most of these damaged facing bricks will just be thrown into a hole on-site or even worse; thrown in a skip and carted off to land fill sites. The latter practice has a great environmental impact and should be avoided at all cost.
The impact the construction has on the environment is a huge subject and i would not proclaim to be an expert. I am open to changing any content in this article if someone has something valid to add. We all need to be aware of the impact we have on the world we live in.