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Monday, 05 June 2017 09:07

Clay brick construction – supporting the green building imperative

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The red-brick Britten Pears Archive in Suffolk, England is a fine example of a green building which has won numerous architectural awards, including the Civic Trust Award for sustainable architecture.   The red-brick Britten Pears Archive in Suffolk, England is a fine example of a green building which has won numerous architectural awards, including the Civic Trust Award for sustainable architecture.

Clay brick construction is increasingly being recognised as a vital component of green and sustainable building in the ongoing quest to find solutions that eliminate or meaningfully reduce adverse impacts of development on the environment and its occupants.

These are the words of Musa Shangase, commercial director of leading brick manufacturer, Corobrik. Shangase adds that there is local and international research to support the premise that clay brick construction contributes to reducing the adverse impacts on the environment.

“Green buildings share a number of positive attributes with clay brick masonry,” said Shangase. “Possibly the most significant of these is superior thermal performance.”

“Masonry construction has inherent high thermal mass. Clay brick walling enables a building to store heat and remain cooler for longer than lightweight structures. Clay brick deals efficiently with extremes of temperature in both summer and winter so that, regardless of how hot it becomes outside in the daytime or how much cooler it gets inside the house at night, the interior remains comfortable.”

“The thermal efficiency leads to lower life cycle operating costs in addition to being energy efficient, resource environmentally responsible,” continued Shangase.

The Britten Pears Archive in Suffolk, England building from red brick is a good example of a green or sustainable building. It has won numerous architectural awards, one is the Civic Trust Award for sustainable architecture also for its ability to protect and preserve the collection celebrating the work of the well-known composer without using mechanical temperature control.

The UK Brick Development Association case study declared the aim of architects and engineers was to produce a passive collection where the internal surrounds was controlled with minimal energy input. They felt that clay brick offered the ideal solution for thermal shielding.

A study conducted by The University of Newcastle in Australia considered how well the internal surface of various external walling systems responded to the external surface temperature in all weather patterns. Results reveal that the insulated cavity brick module, with the mix of thermal shielding and insulation layers performed the best. The outer membrane enhanced the performance while the thermal mass within the wall helped balance the internal temperature.

The well insulated brick walls play an important part in moderating the temperature as well as the relative humidity between the outside environment and the valuable objects inside the building.

“This was achieved through effective thermal shielding delivered by natural and sustainable clay brick masonry,” Shangase said.

These thermal benefits are also of huge value in the South African context with its extreme climatic conditions, Shangase said, but clay brick has many other benefits that support its green building credentials.

Clay brick walling’s material density offers a natural sound barrier allowing quiet indoor environments. The mineral properties stop the release of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) at a point which could affect indoor air quality. They also assist with the absorption and release of moisture from the air to help keep humidity with a 40 to 60 percent level for healthy living. This promotes comfort, wellness and productivity.

“Clay brick delivers a lasting structure, creating hard-wearing and secure building in line with the ongoing trend towards a more responsible and sustainable built environment,” concluded Shangase.

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Clay bricks and paving bricks have been produced by Corobrik in South Africa for more than 100 years, making it the sub-continent’s foremost masonry and paving design company.

Corobrik supplies local and international clientele, bringing brick designs to life all over the world. An extensive range of face bricks,  pavers and landscaping products in a variety of shades and textures, enables architects to create a myriad of stylish brick and paving designs.

Product development, coordinated through Corobrik’s ISO-IEC 17025 accredited central laboratory, aims for continuous enhancement of quality and performance in line with changing design trends and innovative new applications.

Corobrik has regional offices across South Africa and a national network of accredited dealers.

Production facilities operate in accordance with international best practice and quality assurance, ensuring that all products comply with industry standards and the classification against which they are manufactured and sold.

Five Corobrik factories have ISO 9001:2000 accreditation; another 10 are working towards this goal. All adhere to the Minerals and Mine, Health and Safety Acts and manufacturing processes are based on sound environmental practices.

Corobrik is committed to BEE and the upliftment and economic empowerment of previously disadvantaged communities.

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