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How sustainable are brick slips?

In the second of our blogs focusing on sustainability, we explore how brick slips are made, including the materials and manufacturing processes used. According to the World Green Building Council, 39% of global energy-related carbon emissions come from buildings, including 11% from materials and construction, so it’s a key area for the industry to focus on.

As we’ve explored in our previous blog, our brick slip systems come with a range of sustainability benefits, but how sustainable are brick slips themselves?

We work with a small number of carefully-selected brick slip manufacturers in the UK and Europe to source our brick slips, so we have a clear and transparent supply chain when it comes to sustainability information. For example, Environmental Product Declarations which show the environmental impact of a product throughout its life cycle, from raw material extraction, to the manufacturing process, use, and recycling.

Brick – the original building material

Traditional bricks are made from natural materials such as clay, loam and sand, with the specific materials used giving bricks their distinctive colour and finish. As a building material, bricks are durable, low-maintenance and long-lasting – with many brick buildings surviving for hundreds and even thousands of years. All our brick slips are made from kiln-fired natural clay in the same way and offer the same advantages.

We provide two different types of brick slip – cut brick slips and extruded brick slips. Extruded brick slips are the more resource-efficient option.

Cut brick slips

Our Classic range is a collection of mostly cut stock type brick slips and corners, available in a variety of colours and styles to suit all projects and purposes.

Typically, a single whole brick produces 1-2 cut brick slips depending on the brick type, potentially enabling projects to cover a greater area with the same number of bricks. Their reduced thickness allows for a wall build up design that includes insulation – to improve the energy efficiency of a building.

However, a cut brick is not as sustainable as a manufactured brick slip as there is associated waste, although this is typically used as aggregate.

Extruded brick slips

Our Britannia range is a collection of extruded brick slips and corners made from kiln-fired, natural clay in a choice of colours and textures, manufactured in standard UK sizes.

Rather than being cut from whole bricks, these brick slips are manufactured as a slip using an extrusion process. Typically, they use 70% less raw materials and 50% less energy to produce compared to whole bricks, and there is minimal waste in the manufacturing process. Like our Classic Range brick slips, their slim profile also leaves more room for external wall insulation to improve the energy efficiency of a building.

Transport of extruded slips also brings benefits compared to standard bricks. A full load would be around 50,000 slips compared with typically 10,000-11,000 whole bricks.

What are manufacturers doing to reach Net Zero?

Our brick slip manufacturers are making massive investments in measures to make the brick slip production process carbon-neutral and reduce their impact on the environment. For example, by using renewable energy sources such as wind and solar to power the kilns brick slips are fired in; using local clay to reduce the carbon emissions associated with transportation; and working with local authorities to return used clay pits to nature and increase biodiversity.

Energy efficiency

X-Clad is our external wall insulation (EWI) system. The PolyFoam XPS panel used in X-Clad is an excellent insulator and will improve the energy efficiency of a building and  internal comfort conditions for the occupiers.

X-Clad can be supplied in a range of thicknesses from 17mm up to 100mm to help meet the U-Value targets of a project. The U-Value is a measure of how well a component of a building retains heat. The lower the U-Value, the more effective the insulant.

The X-Clad backer panel is free from CFCs, HCFCs and any other material with ozone depletion potential.

We’re here to help

Whichever brick slip system and finish is right for your project, you can save materials and reduce waste by using our Building Information Modelling (BIM) information to visualise your project and generate accurate installation details, including the system quantities required.

Our expert team is here to help you meet the specific sustainability goals of your project.

Call 0117 971 7117 to find out more about our brick slips and how we’re working with our manufacturers to source the most sustainable options.