The latest comparisons on home exteriors show that genuine clay brick offers greater sustainable value over its top competitors — including vinyl siding, concrete masonry, manufactured stone, fiber cement siding (faux wood alternative) and Exterior Insulation and Finish System (EIFS), known as synthetic stucco.
"Fired clay brick is the greenest building material made in America, and made from abundant natural resources," said Ray Leonhard, president and CEO, Brick Industry Association (BIA). "A product that is so durable, it has a life span lasting generations, even centuries; colors that will not fade over time; superior sound reduction and energy performance; low maintenance; and high resale values are just some of the benefits of genuine clay brick construction. No other wall cladding material can come close to offering all these benefits," he said.
Genuine clay brick's proven green performance and sustainability include:
- Natural materials: Clay brick are available in thousands of permanent colors and shades that do not fade — unlike other competitors' products. Clay brick does not off-gas volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or other toxic materials.
- Almost no material wasted: Virtually all of the clay and shale to make brick ends up in the brick itself. In fact, brick manufacturing can use materials recycled from other industries' manufacturing processes such as sawdust.
- Thermal mass helps lower energy use: Unlike thin, light building materials, brick's natural thermal mass helps it store heat during the day, then slowly release the energy later. Homes clad with brick use 1 to 2 percent less energy than those clad with vinyl siding and 2 to 7 percent less energy than homes with fiber cement siding.
- Long life: Brick's superior durability offers a 100-year life span vs. a 25- to 50-year life span with vinyl siding.
- Durability: Brick cladding usually performs well in high-wind events and generally does not require replacement immediately after the event. Testing has shown that brick veneer provides superior performance in moisture management. Brick offers a one-hour minimum fire resistance rating by itself, and exceeds the 34 mph impact resistance requirement for high velocity hurricane zones in the Florida building code.
- Reuse/Recycling: Brick can be crushed and recycled and the International Building Code allows clay brick that meet certain requirements to be reused in new buildings.
- Locally sourced: Raw materials on average are 15 miles away from the brick plant. Manufacturing facilities are located in 38 states and within 500 miles of 49 of the top 50 U.S. metro areas. After mining the useable clay, the stock-piled top soil is spread over the area and trees and other vegetation are replanted to reclaim the land for other uses.
- LEED credits: Clay brick can help achieve Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) credits in several categories.
Only fired clay brick is fully compliant with ASTM C216: Standard Specification for Facing Brick (Solid Masonry Units Made from Clay or Shale) or ASTM C652: Standard Specification for Hollow Brick (Hollow Masonry Units Made From Clay or Shale). No other material, except brick made from genuine clay or shale, can make this claim.