Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Building a Better Brick

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Building a Better Brick

Article excerpt

Just another brick in the wall? Not exactly. Partners in a Danish housing project have just finished using a new recycled brick in the construction of 26 houses. Although there are few firm figures to date, recycling bricks this way is expected to save energy and money, reduce emissions of pollutants such as carbon dioxide during the manufacturing process, and slash the extraction of virgin clay, sand, and gravel. Detailed postconstruction analyses investigating these assumptions should be available over the course of the next year.

The idea for using recycled bricks emerged when the Danish nonprofit housing company Herning Boligselskab asked COWI, a global engineering, environmental, and socioeconomic consulting firm, for ideas on how to make a housing project in the central Denmark city of Herning more environmentally friendly. Along with solar heating, alternative insulation materials, and rainwater for toilet flushing, COWI suggested using miljosten, a patented alternative brick previously used in just one house. The bricks were designed by Stig Maegaard, owner of the small engineering company Ekotek, and Astrup Cement, which manufactures them.

About 95% of each brick is composed of crushed recycled bricks. Mortar granules are added for bonding. Unlike traditional bricks, which must be fired at temperatures of up to 2,000[degrees]f, the bricks are formed at room temperature in molding machines using vibration and high pressure. …

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