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In the current building market, homeowners and builders have infinite choice when it comes to materials; from plywood, to metals, to aggregate and concrete. With environmental issues becoming more and more of a factor in how people make decisions surrounding their new homes (and how builders take into account their customers’ desires), traditional brick is a stand-out when it comes to building a sustainable house. 

 There are many reasons why brick is the obvious mainstream eco materials choice for those who are wanting a durable, beautiful home that will last for centuries. Here, PGH explores why.

 

Home heating and cooling

Having a house made of brick provides major advantages when it comes to both heating your home in winter and cooling it in summer, making it one of the best eco-materials for both residential and commercial properties. 

Having a house made of brick provides major advantages when it comes to both heating your home in winter and cooling it in summer, making it one of the best eco-materials for both residential and commercial properties. 

Bricks are an essential part of energy efficient building design. The key reason for this is that bricks provide ‘thermal mass’ when used in a building. 

According to the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, “Thermal mass acts as a thermal battery. During summer, it absorbs heat, keeping the house comfortable. In winter, the same thermal mass can store the heat from the sun or heaters to release it at night, helping the home stay warm.”

This thermal mass is a key part of passive design, a proven method of keeping your home at a comfortable temperature all year round and reducing the need for heating and cooling devices. This in turn decreases electricity loads, providing cost savings and being an all-round win for the environment.
 

 

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Less energy in production than other materials

Bricks are at the lower end of the ‘embodied energy scale’. Embodied energy is the energy consumed by all of the processes associated with the production of a building material, from the mining and processing of natural resources to manufacturing, transport and product delivery.

Typical figures for some Australian building materials are provided in the chart below. Generally, the more highly processed a material, the higher its embodied energy. In comparing a range of building materials, clay bricks are at the lower end of the embodied energy scale in contrast to aluminium, copper, plastic materials, steel, glass and plywood, which are at the higher end of the scale.

 

 

Less maintenance means less waste

The rumours are true… you might be able to get your weekends back, as unlike wood or synthetic materials, brick is the eco material that requires almost no maintenance to keep it looking fantastic. There’s also no need to paint or caulk brick to retain its structural integrity. All you need to do to maintain your brick is give it the occasional brush with some water, using no harmful chemicals or other materials to go down the drain. 

Ultimate longevity

Investing in a brick home may be slightly more expensive than choosing another material, but in terms of weather durability and longevity, the return on investment for bricks is second to none. Brick homes often last for well over 100 years, and are usually only demolished because of reasons other than the downfall of the external bricks. 

If a sustainable house that was built using brick is demolished because it no longer meets current requirements, the bricks can be recovered, recycled and reused. After removing the remains of mortar, the bricks are usually usable within other homes and projects, or for recycling within infrastructure works, aggregates for poured and precast concrete, plant substrates and aggregates for calcium silicate bricks. 

As bricks only consist of raw, natural materials, they also won’t cause any harm to the site they are positioned on when it does come time for them to be demolished, negating any causation of harm when it comes to wildlife or soil structure and quality. 

 

 

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Sustained environmental consideration at PGH Bricks & Pavers

There are three common ways that our bricks are made at PGH: extruded, dry pressed and moulded. In our factories, the most common type of production method is extrusion, which is used at all our production sites. We always endeavour to use world best practice in the manufacturing process. 

Take a look at the diagram below to understand more about how bricks are made at PGH production centres. 

 

 

 

 
How do we focus on environmental sustainability at PGH?

Water saving:
We know that sustainable and responsible water usage is imperative for the survival of the planet. Water is used in the clay mix when extruding or moulding a brick, and at all PGH factories, water harvesting and water recycling procedures are employed. Water captured in the extrusion or moulding process is saved and transported back into the production process. 

Recycling clay and energy:
In the manufacturing process, PGH recycles broken or faulty bricks and any excess clay materials. From clay extraction to the crushing or recycling of bricks, the value of clay remains important. We capture excess wet clay and chipped, broken or faulty bricks and feed them back into the preparation process.

Effectively managing our energy usage is also extremely important to us as it minimises our impact on the environment. During the manufacturing process, we capture the heat generated whilst firing the bricks with natural gas and feed it back into the brick drying rooms to dry the bricks prior to firing, thus saving energy.

Product development:
We’re passionate about developing new products and processes that better the environment while still providing a high-quality, beautiful material for our customers. At the beginning of 2019, we organised for the clay waste dug out during the excavation of Melbourne’s Metro Tunnel Parkville Station project to be converted into 30,000,000 bricks for residential construction. You can read more about this fantastic sustainable construction and recycling project here


Considering brick?
Have a question for us? Submit an enquiry through our website and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. Alternatively, to learn more about environmental sustainability at PGH and how you can help the environment by choosing brick, download our Sustainability and the Environment brochure.

 

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