ClayBrick.org is to pursue one of the most exciting and ambitious research projects ever – an Industry Lifecycle Assessment of Masonry Walling. This mandate was given at the recent 49th Annual General Meeting of the Clay Brick Association, where the appointment of Pelelani Ngcuka as the new President, and the new Board, among other strategic decisions were ratified.
The Industry Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) aims to report on the economic, environmental and social impact of Clay Brick manufacture and masonry walling in South Africa, within the context of sustainability. ClayBrick.org’s decision to pursue this research comes at a time when the building and construction industry is teeming with alternate materials that have no proven track record to substantiate their long-term performance.
“While Clay Brick has a time-tested history with good environmental credentials compared to alternates like the lightweight steel framed systems, the market needs to know where ClayBrick masonry stands in relation to other materials.” said outgoing President, Dirk Meyer.
“As today’s property owner becomes more and more environmentally conscious, the decisions of specifiers will be greatly influenced by the societal need for long term sustainability, and will cut through any ‘Green-washing efforts of market players. It is our responsibility as manufactures of the most tried and trusted building material of all time to maintain the moral high ground and prove the sustainability of our products through credible scientific research,” added Meyer.
ClayBrick.org’s LCA for Masonry Walling will be the first, and one of the biggest research projects ever undertaken in this country, not only in size, but also in terms of enormity of task, cost and duration.
This kind of progressive stance is typical of the strategic direction taken by ClayBrick.org over the years, with the support of its members. Such an example can be demonstrated through ClayBrick.org’s commitment to support Government’s efforts in cleaning up the environment through the following pledge; ‘we will commit to making our businesses as green as possible in line with the technologies employed to support the environmental integrity of the products we manufacture and proudly supply.’
“These initiatives plus those innovative measures taken by the independent ClayBrick manufacturers to survive during the economic downturn, in many respects has reshaped this industry and made us fitter to survive into the future. Many Clay Brickmakers have invested in new technologies and put new systems in place to safeguard the environment in and around their brickworks,” said Meyer lauding the initiatives taken by members such as Langkloof Bricks, who piloted the first energy efficient VSBK brickmaking technology in South Africa.
Meyer pointed out that although the industry has been greatly affected by the lengthening recession, signs of recovery in the local construction industry are underway. “As an industry, we have survived this downturn and need to look forward as opportunities abound. Many of our members have reported on an upswing in demand for their Clay paving and walling products,” he said.
Meyer remains buoyant about the immediate prospects facing the clay brick industry, particularly with regard to the Government’s recent budget announcement. More than R40-billion has been set aside for the construction of schools, hospitals and universities, among other infrastructural projects over the next three years. “We all know that Clay Brick is the optimal performing walling material for these building projects across the six climate zones of this country,” he said.
With at least 95% of people aspiring to living or working in a Clay Brick building, Meyer urged all members to ensure consistent quality and supply of ClayBrick products at all times. He said, “As an industry, we have a responsibility to ensure the manufacture and supply of superior quality Clay Brick products, so as to provide optimal comfort and quality of living for all building occupants into the future”.
At present, the ClayBrick industry accounts for almost 3-Billion units in the masonry market – alone, thus contributing to the sustainability scorecard through job creation, both direct and indirect. “As long as there are human beings who need shelter, there will be a market for walling, and hopefully clay masonry products to fulfill those walling needs”, concludes Meyer.