Brick: An Old Way to a Better Tomorrow

Words: Dan Kamys

By Christa Thomas, Boral Bricks, LLC

Images courtesy of Boral Bricks, LLC.

Country’s largest brick plant Boral facility Terre Haute Indiana exemplifies industry’s strive for sustainability
The country’s largest brick plant, a Boral facility in Terre Haute, Indiana,  exemplifies the industry’s strive for sustainability.

Since early mankind moved out of caves and into communities, brick was a desired construction material. With readily available raw materials, a simple manufacturing process, and durable and sustainable results, brick’s continued prominence is easy to understand.

Today’s brick are available in a multitude of colors and finishes.
Today’s brick are available in a multitude of colors and finishes.
Brick top choice in building cladding Boral industry sustainability
Brick is a top choice in building cladding.

As people have become more discerning “green” consumers, they have discovered that products touted for some environmental advantages often have hidden drawbacks that may outweigh the benefits. Because of that, it is important to examine a product’s lifecycle from a number of perspectives to understand the true environmental effects of its use.

A number of independent organizations have emerged to gauge the environmental impacts of products. Among those is the McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry’s Cradle to Cradle Certified™* certified program for products, which measures the recyclability of products by determining how the raw materials are perpetually circulated within a closed loop rather than ending up in a landfill. Nationally renowned programs also have established rating systems to account for the sustainability of materials used (such as ENERGY STAR and Certified Green Professional™). No matter the evaluation test or method, brick’s many positive attributes earn it high praise.

Brick manufacturers have done their part to make a difference. Today’s brick plants take advantage of alternative energy sources, such as sawdust and agricultural waste products, and burning methane gas captured from landfills. Advancements in process technology also have helped manufacturers produce more efficiently (320 percent better). Because brick can be made with recycled materials, waste is minimized. And, the materials needed for the manufacture of bricks (typically clay or shell) are abundant throughout the United States, reducing the need for extensive transportation (and the resulting fuel usage).

 Brick is a top choice in residential design and construction because it is durable and sustainable.

The country’s largest brick plant, a Boral® facility in Terre Haute, Indiana, exemplifies the industry’s strive for sustainability. Certified Gold under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, the Terre Haute plant uses recaptured methane gas as fuel for the plant. Advanced robotics and improved packaging reduce the plant’s waste footprint.

As the commitment to sustainability continues to grow, brick remains a leading building material that can be trusted to deliver high performance, low maintenance, long life and a comparatively small footprint.

From architects who incorporate brick into their designs for its energy-efficient qualities to builders who appreciate its durability and ease of construction to owners who enjoy it livability, brick is a top choice in building cladding. It’s a building material of the past, but its durability and sustainability makes it a one for the ages.


*Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM is a certification mark licensed by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.

Christa Thomas is brand manager for Cultured Stone by Boral & Boral Bricks, LLC.

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