Home heating and cooling is one of the biggest culprits for outputting carbon emissions, with 39% of average household energy consumption coming from the operation of air conditioners and heaters.
Those home owners seriously concerned with reducing their carbon footprint might consider going back to basics when building a new home or renovating.
Natalie Frendo, Austral Bricks NSW Marketing Manager explained, "Reducing the impact your home has on the planet can be as simple as choosing the right building materials."
Natalie continued to explain that Austral Bricks, in partnership with the University of Newcastle, has been conducting quantitative research and the studies show that full brick homes have greatly reduced the need for air conditioners and heaters, reducing household energy consumption and resulting in fewer greenhouse gas emissions. This means that full brick homes help to lower energy bills at a time when there is talk of large increases in power prices.
"Research has found that the thermal mass of bricks absorbs the heat, slowing its movement through walls and evening out temperature changes better than any other type of building material. Bricks shield your home from the extremes of the harsh Australian climate - making it naturally cooler in the summer months and warmer in winter," Natalie says.
A full brick home will help to significantly reduce energy use, but the environmental benefits of building in full brick do not end there.
Researchers have studied the relationship between building materials, construction processes and their environmental impact - creating a measurement index called 'Life Cycle Analysis' (LCA) which allows consumers to effectively compare building materials over the life of the home from an environmental perspective.
This complex index involves the use of numerous different sources of information, including the implications of resource depletion, greenhouse gases, environmental degradation and reduction of biodiversity.
On all levels, bricks come out on top when it comes to embodied energy per kilo consuming less than many products that might incorrectly be perceived to be 'environmentally sustainable' such as plywood, many types of home insulation materials, paint, glass and even recycled steel and aluminium.
Changing just three 100W incandescent light bulbs to 20W compact fluorescents in a home will save 19.5 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over a period of fifty years. This is considerably more emissions than it would take to produce the bricks necessary to build an average full brick home.
So when it comes to reducing a home's carbon footprint, Austral Bricks reckon it makes good sense to consider carefully the choice of building materials and the impact they will have on the environment over the lifespan of the home.
"When paired with passive design principles, building or renovating in full brick is the best way to drastically reduce your home's environmental impact. By building with materials with excellent life cycle performance, such as brick, and using the home's own walls to naturally cool down or heat living spaces, every household has the opportunity to reduce their footprint - both now and for many years to come. It's as simple as full brick." Natalie Frendo concluded.