Brick and Structural Clay


The Brick Industry Association has taken several major steps in promoting clay brick for green building design and sustainability.

Green building, energy efficiency, sustainability: These concepts have made their way into the thinking of architects, builders and consumers-and for good reason. Those who choose to construct a building according to sustainable principles are reducing the long-term impact the structure has on the environment. Ultimately, sustainable and green building design is about creating high-performance buildings that meet the needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Today, clay brick has proven its contributing role in green building and sustainable design. Having been used as a building material for thousands of years, brick is made primarily from clay and shale, two of the most abundant natural resources. Brick also contributes to sustainable design through its long life span, energy efficiency, durability, recycled content, local availability, acoustic insulation, low construction waste and potential for reuse. Finally, modern brick manufacturing incorporates many sustainable practices of its own and has captured great production efficiencies that reduce its environmental impact.

Sustainability/green building design has also become more entrenched in the construction sector. More than 100 cities have requirements for green buildings, and the U.S. Green Building Council estimates that more than 30,000 people will attend its 2008 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo November 19-21 in Boston, Mass. To address these trends, the Brick Industry Association (BIA) has taken several major steps in promoting clay brick for green building design and sustainability.

BIA Initiatives

While many programs are in progress, the BIA has already completed several major initiatives, including the launch of a new website,; the creation of new “Technical Notes” and “Builder Notes” mailers focused on green building design and sustainability; the distribution of a “Brick In Architecture” newsletter specifically devoted to green building design and sustainability; and the insertion of “Clay Brick – The Most Sustainable, Green Building Material Made” taglines in its trade advertising. In addition, the BIA is ensuring that the brick industry has a presence at key trade shows, including the recent National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) Green Building Conference and the upcoming Greenbuild conference.

In July 2008, the BIA unveiled an online training program that provides education to its manufacturer and distributor members. The Sustainability/Green Building Design course will be made available to BIA members around the clock, so members can participate at their own desktop and their own pace, or collectively with colleagues in a conference room. The course is modeled on the BIA’s Brick University program, and it addresses four objectives: Understand the Need for Sustainable Design, Define Sustainable/Green Building Design, Understand the Principles of High-Performance Design, and Develop a General Familiarity with Tools Needed for Assessing Sustainable/ Green Building Design.

The first course on “Sustainable and Green Building Design” consisted of five separate classes and covered the following topics:
  • Class 1: What is Sustainable or Green Building Design?
  • Class 2: Non-Residential Green Building Rating Systems
  • Class 3: Residential Green Building Rating Systems
  • Class 4: Brick Manufacturing-Sustainable or Green Aspects
  • Class 5: Competitive Materials vs. Brick-Green Claims and Facts
Those who successfully completed the program and passed the accompanying exams were accredited as Green Brick Specialists (GBSs).

Because the sustainability movement is continually evolving, the BIA will invest time and resources to ensure that the industry is prepared to capitalize on the various ongoing developments. For example, the association is conducting manufacturer and distributor benchmark surveys so that the industry will have a better idea of the extent that the brick industry is practicing sustainability and green building design. Look for additional details in the November 2008 Brick & Clay Record.

For more information regarding brick’s role in green and sustainable building, contact the BIA at 1850 Centennial Park Dr., Suite 301, Reston, VA 20191; (703) 620-0010; fax (703) 620-3928; e-mail; or visit


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