As the U.S. housing market reports a cautious rebound, genuine clay brick manufacturers continue to invest in progressive technology for sustainable exteriors in more textures and colors at a wider price range. Historically a provider of steady jobs, brick manufacturers continue to increase environmental efficiency with environmentally-friendly plants to offer Made-in-America quality–and endless green building design options.
“Brick is where the imagination meets green living,” says Gregg Borchelt, president and CEO of the Brick Industry Association (BIA). “There is no substitute for American-made genuine clay brick exteriors — unlike synthetic building materials that are fabricated to look like something they’re not,” he said.
Over the course of 100 years, the American brick industry has provided good-paying jobs with employees working 15, 20 or even 30-plus years — often in small and rural communities where the plants are based. Like farm to table, genuine clay brick is made from local resources at least two brick plants are located within 500 miles of 49 of the country’s top 50 metropolitan areas.
Leading examples include:
•The first brick plant built to Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED)® Gold standards with virtually waste-free manufacturing — the use of landfill gas, natural day lighting, a cool roof and indigenous landscaping all add to the plant’s sustainability
•A growing selection of machine-molded antiques with added textures for the look of handmade brick at a lower cost
•Increasingly incorporating genuine clay brick as an element of sustainable building design
•Brick apps for iPad/iPhone/iPod and Web-based programs: to envision and choose brick exteriors in various colors and textures, including matching mortar to the brick for a monochromatic, seamless look
•Increasing details/design options to personalize the home, including custom arches, window sills, quoin corners, artistic brick designs above doorways and other locations
While some other exterior options may cost less initially, genuine clay brick offers a superior value through benefits including low- to no maintenance, superior durability, enduring beauty, superior moisture control, design flexibility with many color choices, patterns, textures and custom blends. Genuine clay brick is also free of volatile organic compounds with virtually no waste and is inherently fire resistant.