Brick Masonry and Sustainable Construction


Over the last years, environmental and economic concerns have negatively affected societal development strategies. The construction and building community, including architects, designers, and builders, have been dealing increasingly with the issues of green building design and sustainability. This paper studies how brick construction can contribute to the national and global over-arching goals of high performance and sustainable development. Meanwhile, it was not the authors' intent to compare brick to or promote it over any other construction material; the following research objectives were attained: (1) analyze the sustainable properties of brick; (2) highlight examples of laboratory testing that substantiate sustainability features of brick; and finally (3) outline how masonry ordinances can promote sustainable development. Brick masonry provides various properties that support and strengthen the national and international strive for high-performance development; through emphasizing added quality, appearance, durability, maintenance and environmental friendliness, and character to the built environment. Bricks are known for high strength, durability, and long life span. By nature, masonry is not prone to insects' attacks and is more resistant to fire progression. Upon demolition after design life, bricks can be easily recycled and reused into other materials and practices. Manufacturing of bricks may involve usage of waste materials. The use of compressed earth blocks provides the feeling of natural environment within the building. Although bricks have relatively lower R value for thermal insulation, the use of proper insulation system and the thickness of the brick can make up for good insulation. It is perceived that incorporating masonry ordinances in the building regulations of various U.S. cities demonstrates a growing administrative understanding of the sustainable benefits of brick. The authors hope that their study provide a comprehensive, yet summarized, reference that would help increase societal awareness towards the importance of brick masonry towards green building construction for future generations. Further investigation is needed to provide a system that facilitates the brick masonry construction and make it less labor intensive.

Meeting Name

International Conference on Sustainable Design and Construction 2011: Integrating Sustainability Practices in the Construction Industry, ICSDC 2011 (2011: Mar. 23-25, Kansas City, MO)


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Brick masonry; Building community; Building regulations; Built environment; Compressed earth blocks; Design life; Development strategies; Economic concerns; Environmental friendliness; Fire progression; Future generations; Green building design; Green buildings; High strength; Insulation system; Labor intensive; Laboratory testing; Long life; Masonry; Natural environments; R value; Research objectives; Sustainable construction, Brick; Building codes; Building materials; Construction industry; Durability; Planning; Thermal insulation, Sustainable development

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2012 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Mar 2012