If you consider that South Africa is the largest CO₂ emitter in Africa and the 12th largest in the world, it becomes critical that the clay brick sector remains committed to playing its part in meeting the government’s targets to reduce carbon emissions.
The industry’s sustainability initiatives are being driven by the Clay Brick Association of South Africa (CBA), a member-based non-profit organisation that supports and builds capacity in the national clay brick supply chain. The sector produces more than 3,5 billion clay bricks per year, providing about 20 000 direct jobs and an additional 160 000 jobs in allied services.
The CBA’s impact to date
Over the last five years, the CBA’s Energy Efficient Clay Brick Programme has resulted in a 10 to 15% reduction in the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions. In 2018, the CBA was commissioned to execute a three-year project co-sponsored by the European Union (EU) under the Switch Africa Green programme.
“Our Switch Africa Green project encompasses several integrated industry initiatives to support, promote and implement sustainable development in the sector,” reports CBA executive director, Mariana Lamont.
Twelve regional sustainability workshops for members were conducted during 2018. The workshops were also attended by architects and building industry decision-makers who were given access to research on improving the natural energy efficiency of homes and offices.
Sustainability in the formal sector
CBA members are collaborating on a range of pilot projects that improve the sustainability of their operations. An online data gathering and reporting portal has been developed which will track nine sustainability metrics. This will help to identify the most effective energy-saving methods and technologies.
A key topic for CBA members is reducing CO₂ emissions. To achieve a real drop in CO₂ emissions, CBA members need to improve or upgrade their production facilities. Organising additional funding and financing instruments for CBA members will be essential to the success of this important CO₂-reduction initiative.
Sustainability in the informal sector
The Switch Africa Green project promotes an exchange of ideas between formal and informal brick producers, sharing practical ways to reduce coal and water consumption, air pollution and waste.
A four-day pilot training session held in Indwe in the Eastern Cape was attended by 24 informal clay brick makers. Conducted in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa, the training was well received by both the informal brick makers as well as the municipality. Additional courses are being developed.
Continually improving industry sustainability
“The Clay Brick Association of South Africa has led research in brick production and brick building design for 55 years,” concludes CBA executive director, Mariana Lamont.
“This information aids architects and engineers to maximise thermal comfort and energy efficiency in residential and commercial buildings. In order to facilitate energy-efficient building design and construction, our technical manuals and sustainability reports are available free on the website www.claybrick.org.”
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