While the solid all round performance and life-time value that clay brick brings to infrastructure buildings remains unparalleled; local and international comparative research continues to compound demonstrating why clay brick, as a ‘green’ building material, is so perfect for thermally efficient sustainable construction in South African environments.
Exhaustive comparative research in Australia of buildings comprising different wall construction types measured under real world conditions proved the importance of high thermal mass clay brick walling envelopes for achieving superior thermal performance in climates akin to South Africa. Research by the CTL Group in the United States, found similar outcomes. Comparing different “cladding” on a standard US house (cladding in the US being the exterior skin of the exterior walls) located in 10 different cities across the country, they found that houses with an exterior brick skin cladding used less heating energy than lightweight alternates in cities in the South Western climates and less cooling energy in all locations.
Compounding clay bricks as a sustainable building material, research data generated by the National Brick Research Centre, Clemson University, found in a cradle-to-grave life cycle assessment of energy consumed and pollution generated in the manufacturing a unit area (ft²) of different walling materials over the “warranted life” that clay brick outperformed Fibre Cement and Exterior Insulation Finishing system (EIFS.)
Sustainable Building Material
When looking at ‘total energy’ consumed by buildings and GHG emissions, the full Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) by Energetics in Australia, that assessed different Australian wall construction types applied to 2 house designs situated in 3 climatic zones and placed in 4 orientations provides in sight. This LCA found clay brick cavity construction’s thermal performance attributes afforded a lower total energy consumed than insulated lightweight weatherboard in most situations. When insulation was applied in the cavity of the double clay brick walls, those buildings outperformed insulated lightweight weatherboard in all situations, with clay bricks being a superior life cycle building material providing for these benefits to compound into the future.
Fabricated Lightweight walling associated with “Innovative Building Technologies” such as Light Steel Frame Buildings and Kwikspace Modular Building, do not have the requisite thermal mass in the walling envelope to “self-manage” heat flows and support thermal comfort conditions for longer through the seasons as does clay brick construction. Net effect is that learners and teachers accommodated in fabricated lightweight walling have to deal with all the difficulties that come with “hot box” environments in summer and in the case of clinics and other infrastructure, high cooling energy requirements.
Clay brick’s timeless natural beauty combined with clay brick’s mineral properties provide internal environments free of volatile organic compounds. This results in better health, comfort and wellbeing. Corobrik is proud to manufacture clay bricks and pavers which are recognised as providing lowest lifecycle costs than less durable lightweight walling and those clay brick buildings convey a message of quality, image and prestige for communities. This makes it the right and proper construction material choice for sustainable building in South Africa.