BRICK LEADS THE WAY IN SUSTAINABILITY STAKES
Following a Life Cycle Assessment carried out by the BRE for Sustainable Products, the Brick Development Association’s (BDA) generic brick has been awarded an Environmental Product Declaration. The generic brick is the first construction industry product to be verified under BRE Global’s recently launched EN15804 Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) scheme.
The EPD was presented to Alan Baxter, the Chairman of the BDA at an Industry Day held in London on 12th December 2013 who commented: ‘“With origins that date back to 7000 BC, the generic brick has demonstrated its continued relevance in this era of sustainable construction. We’ve always known that our material had great green credentials. Now we have the independent evidence that proves it”. An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is a Life Cycle Assessment based tool used to communicate the environmental performance of a product. It is based on an internationally-agreed system for calculating and reporting environmental impacts of construction products. All EPD must be third-party verified. The BDA’s EPD has been prepared using a set of product category rules designed specifically for all construction products.
David Richardson, Director of theBRE Centre for Sustainable Products who presented the EPDsaid ’It is great that one of the first building materials ever produced is also the first product to be successfully verified under our EPD scheme. Well done to the BDA.’ BRE Global is internationally recognised for its expertise in the field of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Having worked closely with industry to develop the Green Guide and Environmental Profiles Certification Scheme, it consulted with fellow internationally recognised LCA experts in developing a comprehensive Life Cycle Assessment methodology for construction products in line with the European standard EN 15804:2012.
The EPD for the generic brick is just another sustainable achievement for the BDA. Last year the BDA produced its Resource Efficiency Action Plan (REAP) for the clay brick and block sector, supported with Government funding by resource efficiency experts WRAP, and with technical input from Ceram. The REAP has been developed to assist the supply chain, that ranges from raw material extraction through to the demolition/deconstruction of buildings, in identifying and creating an actionable strategy for improving resource efficiency. The plan identifies the key challenges and actions that the clay brick sector and associated supply chain need to address in order to make improvements in resource efficiency in the sector and continue to provide resource efficient products and solutions to the construction sector in the UK.
The UK clay brick industry produced in the region of 1.5 billion bricks in 2012, using over 4.5 million tonnes of natural clay, from 60 brickworks in the UK. Resource efficiency for the clay brick sector is therefore directly relevant to the consumption of raw materials, as well as energy, water, the generation of emissions from combustion processes and the decomposition of the raw materials during the firing process, whilst providing biodiversity and new habitats as part of the decommissioning process and restoration of quarries and operational sites.
Through its Sustainability Working Party, the BDA identified a need to better understand the potential benefits of improved resource efficiency, other than those already within the existing annual KPI’s, and thus a better alignment with the wide UK construction sectors goals in achieving a more sustainable construction sector.
Sub groups have been set up to improve the resource efficiency in the supply chain for clay bricks of each of the following segments:
The REAP identifies the key challenges and actions that the clay brick sector and associated supply chain need to address in order to make improvements in resource efficiency and continue to provide resource efficient products and solutions to the construction sector in the UK.
Simon Hay, Chief Executive Officer for the BDA, commented: “Bricks have been a principal part of the UK’s building materials since Roman times. With its long life, durability and resistance to the British weather, it is uniquely placed to provide good enclosure and essential requirements for sustainability. Bricks can also be recycled and reused many times. With its sustainable qualities alongside its attractive appearance and limitless design possibilities, makes brick the material of choice for the present and for the future.”
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