Chicago’s Most Sustainable Building Material Needs Little Maintenance
Chicago is often cited as one of America’s greenest cities. Buildings with lower operating costs and better indoor environmental quality are more attractive to a growing group of corporate, public and individual buyers. High performing building features will increasingly enter into tenants’ decisions about leasing space and into buyers’ decisions about purchasing properties and homes. Brick remains one of the most sustainable building materials in the world. When looking at sustainability, it is important to evaluate a product’s life cycle from a number of perspectives. Factors might include energy efficiency, recyclability, fossil fuel depletion, habitat alteration, ozone depletion, water intake, human health and more.
With an average life of 100 years, brick has clear advantage over vinyl which last 50 years, or wood, which lasts 20-25 years. According to the Brick Institute of America, manufacturers have reduced the energy required to manufacturer brick to 1,239 BTU per pound from the approximately 4,000 BTU per pound required in the past.
Very little waste is produced in manufacturing and building because bricks are inherently recyclable. Once water is extracted, a pound of clay material yields almost a pound of brick once water is extracted. During the manufacturing process, any materials that are left over after one run of bricks has been fired can simply be re-mixed into the next run. On the construction site, brick debris can be incorporated into the landscape or used for other projects.
The materials used to manufacture brick are abundant and readily available. The Brick Institute of America reports that most brick is manufactured from materials that are an average of 15 miles away from the plant. There are two or more plants within 500 miles of 49 of the 50 largest metropolitan areas within the United States.
Brick walls are heavy and dense, so they absorb heat and slow down its transfer through the wall. This moderates temperature changes, slowing down heat gain in summer, and storing heat in winter. This is called its ‘lag time’.
Tuckpointing Chicago Brick Buildings
Outside of tuck pointing once every 30 years or so, very little maintenance is required on brick buildings. Shamrock Tuckpointing helps building owners identify problem masonry joints so they can be tuckpointed to keep water from penetrating and deteriorating the brick. During the tuckpointing process, joints are cleaned and new mortar is put in place. This ensures you get a full 100-year-life out of your brick.
As a building owner, you can feel confident promoting the green nature of brick. Contact us for tuckpointing and brick repair on your Chicago-area buildings to ensure maximum sustainability.