Not too long ago, the people who talked about the importance of “sustainability” in the construction of homes or commercial buildings were a distinct minority of the population. Now, several factors have catapulted them from the fringe to the mainstream. One of the most important of these factors is the simple economics.
Buildings that are constructed with sustainability in mind have proven to incur lower maintenance costs, reduce expenditure on utilities and provide their owners with a higher return on their investment. Compelling economic data, for both builders and their customers, has moved sustainability to the top of the priority list.
In the process of this fundamental change, in the design and building paradigm, construction materials and sources of power have seen a resurgence. Now, eco-friendly and sustainable building materials such as brick and solar panels are commonly found in today’s designs.
Homes and commercial buildings built with Acme Brick are sustainable and save owners money. Click here and find out why.
Benefits of Building With Brick
Going back thousands of years, ancient civilizations were built with brick. Homes, temples, water canals, streets, and bridges - the entire infrastructure - were composed of this natural, maintenance-free construction material. It enabled buildings to be warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and, because of its strength, these buildings were largely impervious to ravages of fire and natural disasters such as hurricanes and tornadoes.
Contemporary architects, builders, and homeowners are still using brick for these same reasons.
Mikaela Insall, who is a certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Associate and sales engineer for Acme Brick, has first-hand knowledge on why brick is one of the world’s most sustainable building products.
“Clay brick has superior ‘Life Cycle Assessment,’” she said. “This construction industry metric is an evaluation of the economic performance of a building over its entire life. Using clay brick versus other sidings such as wood or synthetic products will reduce the need for replacement and reduce the use of new materials for reconstruction.
“A clay brick veneer has superior impact resistance and has shown to withstand the impact of a 2x4 board, flying at 72 mph. When you choose clay brick, such as those manufactured by Acme Brick, for your home, you know it will be safe when a high windstorm blows through your neighborhood!”
While brick comes in a wide array of colors, its most important color is “green,” which is to say environmentally friendly. This is important to the thousands of architects, designers, engineers, and builders who belong to The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
According to this organization, “Green buildings, like those that are LEED-certified, are a global solution for cities, communities, and neighborhoods. The tangible benefits may not be easily recognizable to tenants or visitors, but through sustainable design, construction and operations green buildings are reducing carbon emissions, energy and waste; conserving water; prioritizing safer materials; and lowering our exposure to toxins.”
This group also points to the economic impact of sustainable buildings.
- Upfront investment in green building also makes properties more valuable, with a growing number of building owners seeing a 10 percent or greater increase in asset value.
- Green buildings reduce day-to-day costs year-over-year. LEED buildings have reported almost 20 percent lower maintenance costs than typical commercial buildings, and green building retrofits typically decrease operation costs by almost 10 percent in just one year.
- The University of Texas at Austin looked at the resale value on homes in the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area and found that homes built to LEED standards between 2008 and 2016 showed an 8 percent boost in value, while homes built to a wider range of green standards (i.e. less stringent “green” standards) saw a 6 percent increase in value.
Why Choose Solar and Wind Energy?
Because of dramatic improvements in battery storage technology, energy generated from the sun and wind is becoming more mainstream. Does brick construction enhance the energy savings from these natural “generators?”
“Insulating properties of buildings is very simplistically described by R-value,” Insall notes. “The built environment is subject to more complicated conditions. R-value is defined as the resistance to heat flow in ‘steady state’ conditions and climates are not so steady.
“It’s more important to consider cladding materials that have superior thermal mass benefits. Thermal mass is the material's capacity to absorb and store heat. Dense materials such as clay brick and concrete have superior thermal mass capabilities.
“If you live in the Southwest and it’s August, you will probably have your AC running, non-stop. During the day, a clay brick wall will slowly heat up, but the temperature on the interior side of the brick wall will never reach the hottest temperature of the day. This is known as the ‘dampening effect’ because it heats up so slowly. When this occurs, a ‘thermal lag’ happens to the structure. The dampening effect and thermal lag are the two components that make up thermal mass.
“Other building materials may be better in ‘steady state’ conditions, but no building material has the superior thermal mass that a clay brick has. This thermal dampening can mean that less powerful air-conditioning (e.g. 2-ton versus 3-ton unit) is needed, saving the homeowner money.”
Eliminating Other “Pollutants”
Saving energy with better insulation and enhancing natural energy sources such as solar and wind, are just two ways Acme Brick can make a structure - home or commercial building - more eco-friendly. Insall touched on a few other pollutants that can be eliminated.
Volatile organic compounds (VOC) from painting interior walls
“Brick is an inert material because it is made from some of earth’s most natural materials, clay, and shale,” Insall said. “This means it has no VOC’s and it can be applied as thin brick for interior walls as, say, an accent wall, instead of painting an accent wall.”
“A brick veneer by itself has a sound transmission class (STC) of 45 by itself, and when you add studs, drywall, and insulation you can get an STC of over 55. To put this in perspective, an STC of 55 means that loud sounds such as musical instruments, a stereo or outside noise can be faintly heard.”
“Brick homes should last forever, but if reconstruction or additions to a home were to be done and some brick were removed in the process, those brick pieces can simply be used for your landscaping or garden. The brick pieces are an excellent source of minerals for the soil.”
“Recycling the brick of an existing structure means less material is needed for reconstruction or renovation. This is also an excellent eco-benefit. It means less money is needed for new material as well as less material that needs to be manufactured and shipped to a job site for reconstruction. This is not only good for your wallet but reduces greenhouse gas emissions too.
Additional Eco-Friendly Products Offered by Acme Brick
A home or commercial building is not the only place where Acme Brick can help designers and owners save natural resources. Outdoor landscaping products can also save water. With the onset of droughts in many areas, this resource is becoming more limited, and as such, is much more expensive than it was even a few years ago.
“There are two landscaping products that we offer homeowners which are eco-friendly and improve the sustainability of a home,” Insall said. “Acme brick pavers are popular for outdoor entertainment spaces such as patios, walkways through gardens, and other areas. Pavers create a permeable surface for rainwater to drain through whereas concrete will cause water runoff.
“Our GrassTex synthetic turf is gorgeous year-around and it is much more sustainable than traditional lawns. This turf is found in residential and commercial landscaping. Because there is little to no maintenance, there is no grass-cutting (saving fuel) and no watering required. At current rates for water, this turf can pay for itself in a relatively short time.”
For products that make your home or commercial building more sustainable and offer a better ROI, contact the experts at Acme Brick.