Of Carbon Neutral Bricks and the Bright Future of Australia’s Building Industry
In 2015, cities used 75% of the world’s energy and are accountable for 80% of energy-related carbon emissions. Within the next 20 years, 60% of the world’s buildings will be built and rebuilt in urban areas. This does not only affects our way of life but also the climate change which has always been a threat to the planet. One of which is Australia who is among the biggest offenders when it comes to building industry. Considering the 23 percent of all carbon emissions, this has created a massive opportunity to reduce carbon emissions in the country.
In order to stem the increase in carbon emissions, business models will need to develop in embracing low and zero carbon technologies, improve efficiency, and encourage the circular economy to eradicate waste. New supportable building materials and constructional know-how can increase energy efficiency by 60% to 90% compared to conventional buildings, but only if the new buildings are constructed using biomaterials and incorporate the latest energy efficiency products and solutions.
With Australia’s maintainable building practices and green building implementations, the findings has resulted to increasing recognition even if a lot more remains to be done to alleviate the effects of climate change and global warming. Architects, building designers, and specifiers have a significant part in undertaking these matters through ecological solutions.
Defining embodied energy and its effect to the environment
With more than 5000 years of recognized background, clay bricks which is mostly described as one of the most functional, environment-friendly, and energy-efficient building products in the market have help the building industry through the years. But most of the brick kilns are fired using natural gas that increases the embodied energy within them. But what exactly is embodied energy?
Embodied energy is defined as the energy consumed by all the processes associated with the production of a building, from the mining and processing of natural resources to manufacturing, transport, and product delivery. Energy consumption produces CO2, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, so embodied energy is considered an indicator of the overall environmental impact of building materials and systems.
The embodied energy in producing the bricks have ominously added to building’s carbon footprint that results to climate change. However, this can be minimized by switching the fossil fuel in the kilns with a greener perspective.
In accordance to National Carbon Offset Standard the minimum requirements for calculating, auditing, and offsetting carbon of an organization, product or service. For bricks and pavers, the standard encompasses raw material extraction and transport; manufacturing; packaging; transport to customers; application in works; use and maintenance during their lifetime; and demolition and disposal at end-of-life.
Why reduce embodied energy
Energy consumption during manufacture can give an approximate indication of the environmental impact of the material, and for most building materials, the major environmental impacts occur during the initial processes.
The total amount of embodied energy may account for 20% of the building’s energy use, so reducing embodied energy can significantly reduce the overall environmental impact of the building.
Embodied energy must be considered over the lifespan of a building, and in many situations, a higher embodied energy building material or system may be justified because it reduces the operating energy requirements of the building. For example, a durable material with a long lifespan such as aluminum may be the appropriate material selection despite its high embodied energy.
As the energy efficiency of a building increases, reducing the energy consumption, the embodied energy of the building materials will also become increasingly important.
Brickworks Building Product, a leading Australian owned and based group companies that is engaged in the design, development, manufacturing, marketing, distribution, and sales of numerous building material has announced a new line of certified carbon neutral bricks. It has green credentials which are mainly reached through the use of sawdust as an alternative to natural gas to fire the kiln.
A first for Australia: certified carbon bricks by Brickworks’
Australian Government’s National Carbon Offset Standard has certified Brickworks’ carbon neutral bricks. Brickworks has been the first to be certified under the said administration.
These bricks are fired in a kiln fuelled by sawdust, a by-product of the local Tasmanian timber industry and also a biomass material was processed at Austral Bricks’ Longford facility near Launceston, Tasmania. The result of the sawdust-fired kiln were surprisingly substantial which resulted to lower emissions of just 215 tonnes per year, equivalent to about 12 average Australian households, and lower than the approximately 8607 tonnes of C02 produced by a conventional natural gas kiln of the same volume, resulting in significant decrease by 8392 tonnes annually.
By purchasing carbon credits that contributes in local tree planting programs, energy-efficient improvements have been made to all emissions contributors at the Longford facility including extraction, transport, packaging, waste and even administration, while the remaining greenhouse gas emissions are offset.
Further, architects are bringing their best on their obligation to sustainability and the green building drive by agreeing Brickworks’ certified carbon neutral bricks for the projects to come.