Energy efficient brick is 100% recyclable, made from Earth's natural resources, and durable enough to withstand the elements for decades.
Sustainable buildings are designed to be energy efficient, water efficient, and resource efficient. Clay brick is able to withstand the effects of nature with minimal damage. Sustainable buildings are designed in a way that uses available resources efficiently and in a responsible manner, balancing environmental, societal, and economic impacts to meet the design intents of today while considering future effects.
Clay Brick vs. The Competition
There are reasons why there is a vibrant salvage market for brick, but not one for fiber cement, vinyl siding, and other synthetic materials. Unlike fake materials that are engineered and altered to look like something they're not, brick is made from some of Earth’s most abundant and natural materials. Brick is also the only building product that is 100% recyclable as it can be either salvaged and reinstalled on other buildings and homes, as they are built or are renovated. Clay brick can also be crushed for sub-base materials or chipped brick for permanent landscaping mulch, requiring even less maintenance and upkeep.
Compare Clay Brick To The "Sustainable" Competition:
BIA has adopted the following environmental policy statement:
The brick industry recognizes that the stewardship of our planet lies in the hands of our generation. Our goal is to continually seek out innovative, environmentally friendly opportunities in the manufacturing process and for the end use of clay brick products. As demonstrated over time, we are committed to manufacturing products that provide exceptional energy efficiency, durability, recyclability, and low maintenance with minimal impact on the environment from which they originate. We will ensure that our facilities meet or exceed state and federal environmental regulations, and we will continue to partner with building professionals to help them in using our products to create environmentally responsible living and working spaces for today’s and future generations.
Check out the latest information from EPA, OSHA, and MSHA as it pertains to brick manufacturing:
Sustainability Information and Resources For Industry Professionals
Build green with brick! This helpful article covers the sustainable practices used in brick manufacturing, and provides information to understand sustainable design strategies utilizing brick.
This resource provides an overview of the sustainability of brick in both the manufacturing process and in building design. It also includes a comparison of LEED for homes and National Green Building Standard.
Learn about a program where brick manufacturers can attain certification for the amount of recycled content in their brick products in BIA's Brick Brief covering Recycled Content in Green Building Rating Systems below.
BIA's Technical Note 48 covers the benefits sustainable clay brick designs and ways that brick masonry walls and paving systems can be used toward earning points in the LEED and other Green Building Rating Systems.
Green Building Ratings Systems and Standards
Brick is one of the few materials that building codes allow to be reused in a building application when it meets the ASTM standard for clay brick. Consequently, salvaged bricks are in high demand and represent a vibrant market. It is easy to see why brick makes such a compelling case for sustainability.
Of course, brick can help attain energy ratings systems through things like LEED® (from the U.S. Green Building Council), ASHRAE 189.1 (Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings) and more.
However, these initiatives do not encapsulate the whole picture because most ratings systems do not account for products that perform more than one function, are durable, last an extremely long time and more.
Clay Brick Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)
In 2020, BIA launched an industry-wide clay brick Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). This EPD provides evidence of clay brick's sustainable benefits and allows designers to further recognize clay brick's role as a major element in sustainable design and construction.
For a list of participating brick manufacturers and more information, please see the full EPD here.