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. Sustainable buildings are designed to be energy efficient, water efficient and resource efficient. They should be resilient to withstand the effects of nature with minimal damage. Brick is made from some of earth’s most abundant and natural materials.


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.
  • Attain a comprehensive view on brick in this issue: Technical Note 48.
  • Learn about a program where brick manufacturers can attain certification for the amount of recycled content in their brick products: Brick Brief.


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.

Energy Efficiency

When most people talk about the energy efficiency of a wall, they usually only consider R-value. This doesn’t work for brick because walls are more than the cladding materials; they are part of a wall assembly. Brick wall assemblies possess two unique characteristics – usually not accounted for in R-value measurements – that significantly contribute to energy performance and reduce energy costs.  These characteristics are thermal mass and air space; they can be read about here.
Certification of Environmental Claims

Cradle to Grave Capability:
Something Others Can’t Match

There are reasons why there is a vibrant salvage market for brick, but not one for fiber cement, vinyl siding and other synthetic materials. Brick is essentially 100% recyclable and is frequently retained on buildings when they are completely renovated. Moreover, the building codes allow brick to be re-used as an exterior cladding material in another building. 

100 percent recycle