For millennia, bricks have been a cornerstone of pretty much any major building project. The use of bricks allows us to build strong, secure, and safe foundations and shapes for buildings. They are one of the most important forms of construction tool that we have ever come up with as a species. But did you know that we’re still using the same kind of bricks as we were thousands of years ago?
Sure, the supplier might have changed but the bricks we use are more or less identical to the bricks used in any major building project that still stands together. City planners from history could be transported to our modern era and see the bricks we use and recognise them instantly. However, it looks like for the first time in a long time we have a genuine competitor: the eco-brick.
Not only are our bricks that we use today made from finite and limited resources, they are known to have some pretty negative carbon impacts. That’s why the development from Gabriela Medero, an expert professor of Geotechnical and GeoEnvironmental Engineering at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland, is so exciting.
Medero came up with the unique idea through her passion for civil engineering that stems from her love of physics and math. As she began to notice the sustainability issues in normal brick building, she got to work on a new kind of eco brick alongside engineering expert Sam Chapman. In 2009, they formed Kenoteq.
The company creates the K-Briq, which is a brick that is made by using more than 90% of construction waste to make it possible. This brick also avoids having to be fired in a kiln and is capable of reducing carbon emissions by as much as 90%. The problem with K-Briq, though, is the scale that would be needed to match the need for bricks worldwide. Medero, though, hopes that this can be overcome in time and that her bricks can lead to a more sustainable future for us all.
Solving a centuries old problem
Bricks have long been known to have question marks regarding both how they are made and how they impact on the environment. The creation of a replacement that avoids many of the problems associated with normal bricks, though, could lead to a structurally sound and ethically robust brick solution that can replace what we are so used to using today.
Throughout human history, we’ve always come up with innovations to face the challenges of the day. While bricks have served as a fundamental building block of humanity, they are not perfect. With the K-Briq, though, we could get our hands on something just durable and useful without any of the same potential for harmful environmental impact both today and tomorrow.
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