It’s not small feat to achieve a carbon neutral brick, but Brickworks achieved this a decade ago. Ten years on, the company recaps for us just what goes into a carbon neutral brick.
August 29th, 2023
Brick is a material that ticks all the sustainability and desirability boxes in terms of tactility, colour stability, thermal mass, natural materiality; and it won’t rot and does breathe. The fired product has been made more extraordinary with Brickworks’ sustainable offering of Carbon Neutral Bricks from Daniel Robertson – Australia’s first ever carbon-neutral brick.
Introduced 10 years ago, 2023 marks a decade of sustainable progress from Brickworks Building Products and is indicative of the company’s commitment to sustainability.
Arc by Crown, designed by Koichi Takada Architects featuring Bowral Bricks in Hereford Bronze & Bowral Blue.
How Brickworks achieved Climate Active Certification
By way of background, Climate Active Certification is a government-backed program that enables businesses, governments, and consumers to measure and reduce their carbon emissions. What it exactly means to have Climate Active Product Certification for Brickworks is two-fold.
The first is the certification granted to Austral Bricks Longford in Tasmania, where all bricks are manufactured sustainably using low emissions biofuel, reducing emissions through efficiency improvements and by offsetting any remaining emissions (this is the very short version). In actuality, everything from clay extraction to water use, packing and transport was examined and tweaked to reduce emissions.
“Over the last 10 years, the Longford operation has avoided over 70,000 tonnes of carbon emissions, with the use of sawdust as a kiln-firing fuel resulting in a significantly more sustainable manufacturing process,” says Brett Ward, general manager international marketing for Brickworks Building Products.
The benefits of carbon neutral bricks for climate conscious specifiers
The second is an industry first that allows architects, developers, designers and builders to opt into a program that specifies any clay brick or paver made in Brickworks Australian facilities as a carbon neutral product: “There’s something really robust, beautiful and almost ancient about bricks – a reminder to stay grounded in nature and remember the homes we build, or the buildings we work and play within are always connected to the earth,” says Monique Woodward, director of WOWOWA architecture firm.
“Brickworks has always been a leader in this space and so we’re really excited about the Climate Active carbon neutral certification. We’ll definitely be running all of our projects through that process, because it’s in alignment with our values – we couldn’t be more passionate about sustainability and contributing to a regenerative environment,” says Woodward.
Adding the Climate Active layer
“We’ve been working with Climate Active to examine our sourcing, manufacturing and delivery of everything from raw materials to end products…” says Ward. “Our expanded Climate Active carbon neutral offer gives confidence that all embodied carbon has been offset. Not just during production, but measured through the entire life cycle of the brick – from extraction of the natural clay and delivery to the customer to end-of-life disposal. Once we identify the amount of embodied carbon, we then consider the most appropriate programs to align with for carbon offsets.”
Using an external energy consultant, Brickworks is able to calculate carbon emissions through the life cycle of the brick: from extraction of clay, production of bricks, delivery to the customer, and end-of-life disposal. Carbon credits are purchased to offset the calculated emissions from the life cycle of bricks.
“Breathe were early signatories to Architects Declare Australia, which is an acknowledgement that we’re all facing the twin threats of climate change and biodiversity loss. So we’ve been really vocal advocates, appealing to the broader industry to go carbon neutral,” says Bonnie Herring, director of architecture and sustainability at Breathe.
“It’s energising to see the expanded carbon neutral offer by Brickworks and I hope to see more industry leaders and suppliers coming to the forefront, and matching this challenge,” says Herring.
Ward says that Brickworks remains committed to identifying new initiatives and opportunities for minimising it carbon footprint. Moreover, with a 100 year warranty, longevity is a powerful sustainability benchmark. This is compounded by brick’s thermal mass that makes homes, schools and workplaces more comfortable and requisite of less artificial heating and cooling required.
Stoney Rise Wines Cellar Door by Cumulus Studio featuring Daniel Robertson Hawthorn in London.
Just how enduring are bricks?
Not only do bricks last for decades, they can be reused and recycled, they’re non-combustible, fire resistant, won’t fade, rot or rust. Effectively, brick is a healthier, more efficient choice. They breathe and allow moisture to escape, and emit zero volatile organic compounds. They also have incredible energy efficiency being high density.
Bricks really do have an ability to effectively absorb and store heat energy to moderate internal temperatures, averaging out day and night temperature extremes, for higher comfort, and lower energy bills. More than that, they continue to offer a fully sustainable alternative that supports the environment.
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