Think Bricks and Think Green

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Some thoughts from Cape Brick on thinking green in the choice of materials. With thanks to Jaco Gildenhuys, Cape Brick Sales Manager

Whilst most conversations around going ‘green’ in the building trade refer to electricity usage, water saving and the design of a building, the role of the manufacturer in producing their products and what they are doing to minimize the use of energy is often overlooked by the end user and the persons responsible for making the final buying decision.  Understandably people concentrate on what they can physically see (aesthetically important) as well as focusing on real savings on direct accounts such as municipal bills.  The part of being green that gets overlooked the most is the role of the manufacturer in producing their products and what they are doing to minimize their use of energy. In essence the consumer is focused on what affects them and is not yet focused enough on what impacts on their environment.

Cape Brick is making major advances in the manufacturing of environmentally friendly masonry in the Western Cape. By manufacturing our products using recycled construction and demolition waste as a substitute for quarried sand and stone, we save huge amounts of energy that would otherwise be consumed in the transportation of demolition material to dumping sites and the mining of new material which would otherwise have to be transported to our factory.  The end product is a brick of superior quality, excellent thermal insulation and no ‘green’ drawbacks. There is no downside in terms of quality or price which is so often the case when sourcing environmentally friendly alternatives.

Brick products are often purchased by the contractor or client who tend to make decisions based on price rather than on quality or the ‘green’ benefits of these products.  Often this is based on a lack of knowledge or understanding of the real benefits of using environmentally friendly products. The struggling economy has in many ways forced contractors to make price the number one selection criteria above all else.

Products are often specified by architects for aesthetic reasons, so the products that are not seen are mostly of only functional value which means the importance of specification as well as the green factor falls away.  Whilst an architect or engineer might well specify a ‘green’ product, there is a lack of oversight and control in ensuring these specifications are implemented by the contractor. There are many instances where our products have been specified by a professional only to be told by the contractor that he is not interested in ‘Green’ and that only price is important to him. To address these issues we take professionals on a factory tour for which they receive CPD points.  By physically seeing the recycling and manufacturing process that Cape Brick uses to manufacture green masonry it improves the focus on using green products, which in turn helps to increase the demand for greener masonry in the market place.

Cape Brick believes that the professionals of the building trade are the key to driving the industry towards a more sustainable future.

Note: Cape Brick’s experiences are based on selling run of the mill products (concrete bricks and blocks) which are used in nearly all building projects.

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