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Why brick and cement are sustainable building options

Why brick and cement are sustainable building options

Brick and cement are some of the most common building materials used in the construction industry. They are both sustainable materials that are made from natural elements. Cement is largely made up of limestone and other minerals, while bricks are made from clay and soil. LafargeHolcim Tanzania manufactures Tembo cement at its facility in Mbeya. Many of the bricks in Tanzania are made at small-scale plants.

Clay is an abundant natural element, but some bricks can be made with shale, soil (for soil-stabilised concrete blocks) or recycled brick dust. Similarly, post-industrial waste products, such as fly ash, silica fume and slag, can be used to make cement. Brick and cement can be manufactured from a variety of materials but their long-term strength and durability make them sustainable construction materials.

Brick manufacturing process

Brick-making facilities are usually set up close to the source of the raw materials. The process of making bricks is quite simple and it produces very little waste materials. Wet clay is packed into brick moulds and compressed. The wet bricks are removed from the mould and placed in a large oven which bakes the clay into the hard brick. 

Unfired clay is easily recycled into new bricks by simply wetting it and mixing it in with the raw materials. Fired bricks that are cracked or damaged can be crushed and recycled back into the production process, or used as a landscaping and rubble material. The brick ovens are normally fuelled by natural gas, although coal and wood are sometimes used in small-scale operations.

Bricks can be manufactured anywhere in the world, so they are usually sold to local markets within the same region as where they are manufactured. This means that less fuel is needed for transport and fewer carbon emissions are released into the air. The recyclability and durability of bricks make them sustainable building materials.

Brick and cement construction is eco-friendly

Once the bricks are sold to contractors, there is only a small amount of waste that is generated by brick construction. Only partial bricks, cracked bricks and unused cement mortar are the waste products from brick construction – all of which can be recycled into rubble for other building projects.

Brick masonry is a good insulator, which means that cool air can be kept inside on hot days and warm air can be kept inside on cold nights. The insulating properties of clay bricks and cement help to reduce the need for air conditioning or heating units, which use electricity and can be a source of air pollutants.

When a building has reached the end of its useful life, the bricks can be carefully deconstructed and reused in other building projects. Damaged bricks and mortar can be used for rubble or landscaping purposes. Brick masonry requires very little maintenance and the buildings can last for centuries. This makes brick and cement construction a sustainable building option for contractors.

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LafargeHolcim is a leading building materials and solutions company that has been operating in international markets for decades. We produce cement and aggregates for construction projects, ranging from small affordable housing developments to large-scale infrastructure projects such as high-rise buildings, dams and bridges. 

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LafargeHolcim Tanzania has been supplying the country and neighbouring countries with our world-class Tembo cement brand for over 30 years. Our head office and fully-integrated plant are located in Mbeya, Southwest Tanzania.

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At LafargeHolcim Tanzania, we believe customers come first. We listen to your specific requirements to supply and develop the best solutions for your needs. As the new leader in building materials, you can also rely on our cutting-edge research and development capabilities that have resulted in the finest materials for your construction projects, whether large or small.

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