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Feature Carbon, Environmental Product
Declarations, and Brickwork
Reducing footprints through masonry
By Maranda Bennett
A primary component of Canada’s built
environment, brick masonry is one of the
oldest construction materials, and has been
in use for millennia. Its durability has helped it
stand the test of time, and its esthetics continue
to make it a desirable, in-demand option in
Clay brick is inherently sustainable in some ways.
It has a long lifespan and a high thermal mass,
and it is often locally extracted and manufactured.
However, clay brick is less sustainable when it comes
to the amount of energy consumed and greenhouse
gases (GHGs) emitted during production.
In recent years, the brick industry has sought
new ways to reduce these environmental burdens.
A few brick plants have switched to alternative
94 October 2013
fuel sources for their manufacturing, and some
companies incorporate recycled materials into
While these efforts are certainly laudable,
they do not address some of the most urgent
environmental threats: the intensive consumption
of fossil fuels and the associated emission of GHGs
(e.g. carbon dioxide [CO 2 ]), which are primary
causes of climate change.
Clay brick hardens through ﬁring, typically in
tunnel kilns operating continuously at about 1100 C
(2000 F) for up to four days. During normal
operations, these kilns are rarely shut down, except
for maintenance. Kilns are typically ﬁred with
natural gas, coal, or petroleum coke—all of which
emit signiﬁcant CO 2 in their combustion.
Co nstruction Canada
10/8/13 11:46 AM