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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Building in Daybreak with Brick

Daybreak, as Kennecott Land has eagerly advertised, is a sustainable community and therefore uses sustainable materials in the construction of homes and other buildings. Of course, not all the materials are sustainable, but sustainable materials are definitely emphasized in construction. With this in mind I have looked at the materials used to build many of the homes in Daybreak. These consist primarily of fiber cement siding and stucco. There are very few homes that have been built with what I consider to be one of the best building materials: brick.

I should make it clear that I am not a materials engineer, home builder or sustainability expert. However, I do think that there are simple reasons for using this material more in the construction of Daybreak homes and commercial buildings. Brick may not be the first thing you think of when considering sustainable building as it is primarily thought of as a traditional building material, but lets look a little deeper. What is brick made from? Most bricks are made from clay and water. Both are a sustainable, non-toxic, abundant and can definitely be made locally.

Next, how much energy does it take to make a brick and transport it to a building site? This is one of the primary arguments against the use of brick. It does take a lot of energy as brick must be heated to an extraordinary temperature during the manufacturing process. However, I think that this is offset by how long brick lasts. Bricks resist the elements far longer than stucco or any type of siding. During the life of a home, stucco and siding will be painted and eventually replaced multiple times. Brick, however can last a hundred years or more if used and constructed properly. As for transportation costs, bricks have been made in the Salt Lake Valley for ages. Transportation from the actual production site to Daybreak would literally be only a few miles. In fact, if I am not mistaken, Interstate Brick company is located in West Jordan .

Benefits of brick according to the AIA (American Institute of Architects):

  • Durability: Brick is resistant to damage from wind and water, and does not need additional finishes.
  • Compressive Strength: Brick can carry heavy loads, but it is often used as a veneer over a separate structural system because of cost. Many brick manufacturers provide larger brick sizes to be used in a single wythe (layer) for load bearing.
  • Acoustical Performance: Brick’s mass makes it good for reducing sound transmission; however, its hard surface reflects sound.
  • Chemical Makeup: Brick’s raw materials are chemically inert; consequently, they will not contribute to indoor air pollution.
  • Fire-Protection: Brick is nonflammable and makes an excellent fire barrier. After brick has been used in a structure it can easily be recycled to be used in new structures.

Considering this, I think that a long-term perspective should be taken on sustainable building in Daybreak. New technologies in sustainable building products are impressive, but considering the information above, the primitive brick may be a low technology solution to sustainable design. You may even argue that brick costs more and you would be correct. However, brick homes tend to appraise for more money and again if you are looking at the long-term, you will not have to replace the outside of your home when the mortgage has finally been paid.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

KL originally wanted more brick, but unfortunately the cost to use brick also raises prices of homes. In order to keep the prices low and keep Daybreak affordable, all builders were allowed to have numerous elevations of their homes. Unfortunately, nobody is willing to choose that option with its added price tag particularly in this economy. I do agree though, it would be nice to see more brick!