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From monthly archives: May, 2014

We are pleased to present below all posts archived in 'May, 2014'. If you still can't find what you are looking for, try using the search box.

Building Safety Month: Week 4 - Building a Brighter, More Efficient Tomorrow

Most people already know many of the superior qualities of brick – durability, aesthetics, and low maintenance – but brick masonry is also advantageous when considering the energy efficiency of buildings.

Today’s energy codes require that building walls meet certain thermal performance criteria, usually expressed as U- or R-values. The codes are more sophisticated by taking into account many things including climate, percentage and area of windows, insulation location, and interior heat generated by lighting and people. Despite these added factors, the good news is that clay brick walls can easily meet the energy requirements because of their heavy weight, or thermal mass.

Thermal Mass

Thermal mass, simply stated, is the use of heavy, dense materials to store and then slowly release heat at a later time. Brick masonry wall systems exhibit superior thermal mass properties.


Current energy codes recognize the benefits of thermal mass. They do this by requiring lightweight walls to have higher R-values to achieve the same energy performance as brick masonry walls with lower R-values. In other words, brick masonry walls require less insulation than lightweight walls for the same energy performance.


Thermal Lag

The thermal storage properties of brick masonry help shift peak heating or cooling loads to off-peak and dampen the peak temperatures. Instead of the outside temperature being felt immediately on the inside, the mass of brick slows down the transfer of heat to the interior or from the interior out. This is known as thermal lag. The thermal lag property of a solid brick masonry wall causes as much as a 6 hour time lag between the peak outdoor temperature and the peak indoor temperature.


The benefits of thermal lag can be utilized to economic advantage by shifting the maximum heating or cooling loads to off-peak hours. Utility rates often vary based on demand throughout the day, with rates the highest when demand is greatest. Shifting the peak load to the later part of the day during off-peak hours results in lower electric charges and lower overall operating costs for owners. Many utilities will work with customers to create this off peak demand.


Temperature Damping

In addition to shifting the peak heat loss or gain, the heat capacity of brick masonry walls causes a reduction in the total heat loss or gain. This property is called temperature damping and can be considerable, especially for areas with large heat gain differences. Many people have a feel for this property from experience. On the hottest summer days, a brick masonry building or home is typically cooler, even without mechanical cooling. Temperature damping reduces total energy consumption.

nergy usage continues to be a prime concern in today’s society and by using clay brick, architects and designers can help optimize the energy performance of their buildings and conserve energy.

Building Safety Month: Week 3 - Surround Your Building with Safety

Safety measures come in all shapes and sizes.  Fortunately for homeowners, clay brick exteriors have its occupants covered in many different ways.  Be safe and secure from harmful mold, ongoing repairs, damaging fires, and unpredictable storms inside a brick building.

Safe from Mold
Brick construction is a multi-layered system that prevents moisture and mold better than anything else. Of the eight types of materials that account for 90% of home construction, the National Association of Home Builders' Research Center confirmed brick is the best for moisture control. That’s because behind the outer wall of brick is a one-inch column of air that allows any moisture that might get in to either quickly evaporate or exit the wall through weeps at the base of the house.

Safe from Repair
People who own brick homes often say they need no maintenance. Ever. While that may be a bit of a stretch, the fact is that the brick on your new home will need no maintenance for about 100 years. So, while almost every other material requires repeated work, costing thousands of dollars each time you paint or clean or replace, your brick simply won’t.

Safe from Fire
According to most building codes, brick is officially listed as “non-combustible.” If an exterior fire starts, for example, from leaves burning, from another house on fire, or from any other source, brick will not burn. Fire will not penetrate brick walls from the outside. In a one-hour severe fire test, brick withstood the flames the entire time. Compare that to fiber cement which crumbled before the end of the test and vinyl siding that was completely destroyed in 18 minutes. Brick's one-hour fire rating protects your family better than any other non-masonry building material.

Safe from Storm Damage
When it comes to severe storms and flying debris, an independent university sponsored an experiment to find out how brick fares. A machine was constructed to hurl wood 2x4s at hurricane speeds into brick, vinyl, and fiber cement walls. The boards didn’t even nick the brick, but they went right through the vinyl and fiber cement and right into the imaginary living rooms behind them.

So what's the conclusion? The three pigs had it right. Brick is safer.

Building Safety Month: Week 2 - Helping Homeowners Weather the Storm

Independent tests continue to show that genuine clay brick outperforms other home exteriors in severe weather conditions, such as protection from wind-blown debris and earthquakes.

  • Videos from a wind-blown debris study at the Wind Science and Engineering Research Center at Texas Tech University demonstrate that a medium-sized and wind-blown object, such as a 7.5-foot long 2 x 4, would penetrate homes built with vinyl siding or fiber-cement siding at a speed of 25 mph, but would need to exceed 80 mph in order to penetrate the wall of a genuine clay brick veneer home. The tests also showed that a single wythe of brick exceeded the impact resistance for high velocity hurricane zones in the Florida building code.

  • A brick seismic study funded by the National Science Foundation showed that buildings built with genuine clay brick veneer can resist earthquakes above the Maximum Considered Earthquake for Seismic Design Category D without collapse.

Clay brick is long known for its extreme durability and 100-year life span, but combined with proper installation and maintenance, brick remains an essential element of strong, safe homes that can help reduce property damage and increase survival odds.

Building Safety Month: Week 1 - Keeping Fire in Its Place

Building Safety Month is presented by the International Code Council (ICC), a member-focused association dedicated to helping the building safety community and construction industry provide safe, sustainable and resilient construction through the development of codes and standards used in the design, build and compliance process.

To help raise awareness of building safety, the International Code Council (ICC) is presenting Building Safety Month during May. Building Safety Month is a public safety awareness campaign to help individuals, families, and businesses understand what it takes to create safe, resilient, affordable and energy-efficient homes and buildings.  The ICC is a member-focused association dedicated to helping the building safety community and construction industry provide safe, sustainable and resilient construction through the development of codes and standards used in the design, build, and compliance process.

As part of the building community, BIA is keenly aware of the need for safer structures and will be presenting a series of posts here that correspond with each of the weekly themes.  This first week's theme is "Keeping Fire in Its Place", and as a durable, fire-resistant material, brick is a perfect exterior cladding choice to help create safer buildings.  In fact, these articles will help you learn more about exactly why that is the case: