Building a Better Environment

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A better environment can only be created through the promotion of sustainable development. This means specifying and using building products that are energy efficient and completely recyclable themselves.


There are two requirements to an energy efficient masonry product. The first is that the product should have good thermal insulation properties. Concrete masonry is naturally thermally efficient, and when used in cavity wall construction has the effect of ensuring that buildings stay warm in winter and cool in summer, thereby lessening the need for artificial climate control and wasted energy. The second requirement is that the product should have a low embodied energy.


This is the energy consumed in the manufacture and transportation of construction materials to site. To manufacture a masonry product with a low embodied energy the raw materials should be sourced as close as possible to the manufacturing plant and should contain as much recycled material as possible, the manufacturing process should use as little energy as possible, and the manufacturing plant should be as close as possible to the site to reduce the transport energy component.


The use of recycled materials is crucial to lowering the embodied energy of masonry products.


Cape Brick, located in Philippi, now manufactures concrete masonry units with possibly the lowest embodied energy of any masonry product available in the Western Cape today. Cape Brick is one of the first masonry manufacturers to set up a crushing facility to reduce construction and demolition waste (C&DW), consisting of mainly reinforced concrete, to recycled crushed aggregate (RCA). The RCA is then used as the main ingredient in all the company’s products. In fact, our products contain an average of 70% recycled material and we use approximately 70,000 tons of RCA every year.

Building a better environmentHOW DO WE BUILD A BETTER ENVIRONMENT?

•The C&DW would normally be dumped in landfill sites, thereby impacting on sensitive areas. Thus using RCA in the manufacture of our concrete masonry products eases the pressure on the landfill sites.

•Using RCA means that less virgin materials such as sand and stone have to be quarried, thereby directly lessening the mining impact on the environment.

•Cape Brick is only 15kms from the city center where most demolition takes place, resulting in a transport energy saving, as most sand and stone quarries are between 30kms and 50kms distant and require a large transport component.

•The quality of the RCA is actually superior (better shaped) to that of the quarried materials available at a similar price. This means that a lesser percentage of cement can be utilized in the concrete mix to achieve the same compressive strength, resulting in a further energy saving.

•Cape Brick’s own waste products are processed into RCA, and therefore do not have to be disposed of.


The use of RCA has a hugely beneficial effect on product quality. As has already been mentioned the quality of the RCA is actually superior to that of the quarried materials available at a similar price. This results in products that are not only more beneficial to the environment, but have a higher compressive strength in the bargain. Because of our ability to recycle even our own waste, Cape Brick aims for a ZERO percent reject rate, thus ensuring that only the very best quality products reach the customer. The end result is a truly green building material of exceptional quality.

Concrete masonry is also cost effective, meaning that by specifying masonry units as manufactured by Cape Brick, you will not only help to promote sustainable building practice, but will realize a saving in the process.

For further information please contact Cape Brick. Tel: (021) 690-2020.

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