‘Build them green’
It’s people’s awareness that will help the clay brick industry move towards a sustainable building environment

Austrian building materials major Wienerberger set up a plant in Kunigal in Karnataka nearly three years ago and the effort is seeing an increased use of its clay bricks even as the IGBC (Indian Green Building Council) has awarded gold ratings to some projects with this ‘green material.’ In June 2012, Wienerberger had announced the launch of its two new products — Thermo Brick and Dryfix System — which the company claimed were value additions to the construction industry. Thermo Brick eliminates the need for thicker walls to increase the carpet area and helps reduce indoor temperatures. Dryfix can replace the arduous use of mortar in masonry. Wienerberger has found a good response to its environment-friendly Porotherm Hollow Clay bricks that have significant advantages over the conventional materials in terms of strength and weight ratio.

At a time when high energy consumption and pollution are related to the construction industry’s reckless growth, sustainable building materials are what the society would be expected to look into. The Sustainable Energy for All initiative launched by the U.N. for meeting the increasing energy requirements of businesses and society throughout the world had set in motion primary objectives to be met by 2030.The initiative looks at the construction industry and identifies six actions it can take to advance the three objectives — energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy — while driving increased business value.

Architects, consumers and builders have a responsibility towards taking upon themselves these initiatives while clay brick is gaining importance for the recycled principles embedded in its inherent mix and the manufacturing process.

Habitat spoke to Monnanda Appaiah, MD-Wienerberger India, about the response that the company’s clay products — for wall, façade, roof and surface areas — have elicited over the last year and how much of the company’s sustainable initiatives would help mould people’s thinking into using such products in 2013.

Tell us something about your ‘green’ manufacturing plant…

At our 32-acre Kunigal plant, waste-water emissions are avoided with closed circulation systems. The modern filtration systems ensure that the load is kept low. And the raw materials required for the clay blocks are sourced from de-silting of dead water tanks. Natural additives like coal ash, rice husk and granite slurry are added to the hollow blocks, making it easy for recycling.

How was the year 2012 for the brick industry?

Clay bricks are getting to be the most preferred walling material due to their advantages of being a natural product and thermal properties ideal for the Indian climatic conditions. However availability of the good quality bricks continued to be an issue due to growing demand.

What were the types that saw more demand and why?

The perforated brick, POROTHERM, continued to be the choice-material both in the institutional and retail segment. It has high insulation properties combined with high strength-to-weight ratio.

Are architects seeing more demand for green construction from their clientele in Bangalore?

The building and construction industry in general today and also the architects and structural consultants in particular, are driving the sustainable construction practices in India, especially in Bangalore where projects are too many. Going forward, the increased awareness by the end users (home owners) on the environmental issues will drive the growth of these ‘green’ products in the years to come.

What are the expectations from the year 2013 for the brick industry?

Despite a cautious growth outlook for 2013, Wienerberger expects the Indian operations to perform well due to a good order book and increasing awareness of the products both in larger metros as well as Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities. Apart from walling materials, the addition of solution products for walling, roofing and facades helps us look beyond being a predominantly perforated brick producer and become a building material solution provider in the Indian market.

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