Researchers at Heriot-Watt University have created a more sustainable building brick, which is made from 90% recycled construction and demolition waste. The brick, called K-Briq, generates just a tenth of the CO2 emissions of a traditional fired brick and less than a tenth of the energy in its manufacture. This makes it a perfect choice for individuals looking to support the sustainability ambitions of today’s construction industry.
These eco-friendly bricks are now being produced commercially by spin-off company Kenoteq. The Scottish startup is co-founded by Professor Gabriela Medero, who conceived the idea of the K-Briq more than ten years ago. The new company was also featured on BBC’s The One Show earlier this year.
The eco-brick is made from concrete, brick and plasterboard waste combined with a secret binder and compressed to size without firing. It looks like a real one, and it weighs the same. But it has a number of serious advantages: offers higher thermal insulation property, the absence of firing, and, consequently, the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions during production. And the most interesting – such brick can be made of any color.
Currently, up to 85% of bricks used in Scotland are being imported from England or Europe, which is not sustainable in the long-term. The team has also signed an agreement with recycling specialist Hamilton Waste & Recycling to commercially produce a new type of recycled brick directly at onsite at the firm’s Edinburgh plant, thereby reducing transport miles and carbon emissions.
“I have spent many years researching building materials and have been concerned that modern construction techniques exploit raw materials without considering that they are amongst the largest contributors to carbon emissions. The amount of waste they produce is not sustainable long-term,” said Professor Gabriela Medero.
Dr. Sam Chapman, who works in close partnership with Professor Medero on Kenoteq, added: “Kenoteq has invested in machinery that can produce three million bricks per year. In the past year, we’ve produced thousands of bricks and put them through rigorous testing with the K-Briq now commercially available to construction clients. The Scottish government has set very high targets for housebuilding with 50,000 new homes earmarked for construction in the next three years. We hope Kenoteq will be part of those homes.“