The government has taken steps to promote environment-friendly non-fired bricks in construction works in a bid to stop the use of fire brick, remove harmful brick kilns and to save topsoil.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina last month sent a letter to different government offices asking them to use alternative bricks (hollow bricks) in government construction works, HBRI sources said.
The Prime Minister also asked all ministries concerned, departments and government agencies to take steps to promote the use of alternative bricks invented by the Housing and Building Research Institute (HBRI) in government construction work, the sources added.
“It’s a great initiative of the prime minister to boost the use of alternative environment friendly brick produced by the HBRI. Implementation of this decision will be helpful in achieving the goals of the 7th Five Year Plan of the government,” Mohammad Abu Sadeque, director of the HBRI, told the daily sun.
Talking to the daily sun, Sharif Jamil, joint secretary of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (BAPA) said, “It’s good news for the country. The Prime Minister’s directive to the government agencies to use alternative brick is praiseworthy. We thank the prime minister for this.”
Expressing hope that the government agencies will implement the directive of the prime minister, he said widespread use of environmental friendly bricks will help save agriculture land and topsoil from being used as raw materials of fire bricks.
Researchers at the Housing and Building Research Institute (HBRI) of Bangladesh, a wing of the Ministry of Housing and Public Works, have developed the alternative, environment-friendly, cost-effective and disaster-resilient building materials including the green brick for sustainable and affordable housing.
HBRI has developed around 20-25 types of alternative environment-friendly building materials, including the non-fired brick or concrete hollow block, thermal block, poly block, sandwich wall panel, ferrocement and various ferrocement -made building materials for walls, floors and roofs.
“Non-fired bricks are environment-friendly, cost-effective and earthquake resilient as this brick is made from soil dredged out of rivers and cement. Green bricks also don’t pollute the environment as there is no use of topsoil, coal and firewood in its manufacturing,” Mohammad Abu Sadeque said.
He said experts at the HBRI laboratory invented this special type of brick named ‘green brick’ that does not need any firing kilns as the brick is actually a compressed stabilised earth block made from soil and cement.
HBRI officials said the country produces around 25 billion bricks from around 80 million tonnes of topsoil every year to meet the demand in local construction and housing market.
To produce the 25 billion bricks, the brick kilns need around six million tonnes of coal and three million tonnes of firewood. Together they emit around 25 million tonnes of greenhouse gas every year, experts said.
BAPA joint secretary Sharif Jamil said it is urgent to end the use of topsoil and fired-bricks to save agriculture land and reduce greenhouse gas emission.
Experts said the use of alternative brick will help cut construction costs as well as making the buildings more earthquake resistant. “The non-fired bricks are also lighter than fire bricks and involve easier manufacturing process. Use of suck bricks will also help preserve topsoil,” Sadeque said.
HBRI director said the government in its seventh five-year plan has planned to end the use of topsoil in brickfields by 2020.
He said if the government institutions including the Public Works Department (PWD), the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED), the Education Engineering Department (EED) and the Public Health Engineering Department (DPHE) uses the environment-friendly brick then its use will be spread in all sectors.
He, however, said the government has already incorporated 15 alternative building materials of the HBRI into the “red schedule” of Public Works Department (PWD) that has created scope for scale up the use of alternative building materials in government projects.
There are a number of factories in the country those are now manufacturing the alternative brick or hollow brick.
Abu Sadeque said a proposal has been made to include a provision in the Brick Manufacturing and Brick Kilns Establishment (Control) Act to make it mandatory for the brick kilns to produce at least 10 percent green brick as part of their total brick manufacturing.