If you promote the sustainability of a product, you should be willing to have the market scrutinize all aspects of your product's environmental performance. Unfortunately, this concept is lost on the organizers of the Second Annual BrickStainable Design Competition
Their website declares:
"The focus of the BrickStainable Competition is to encourage people to think beyond all boundaries and “re-think” brick in the context of its material qualities and current construction technologies"
"...this Competition seeks to attract and promote new ideas in the manufacturing of, the application of, or the physical arrangement of ... masonry units that promote energy efficiency and environmentally sustainable building design."
And their goal is:
"to stimulate the local and international design community by challenging them with a competition seeking ideas, concepts and assemblies which hold the greatest potential for shifting paradigms for the masonry industry as they relate to energy efficiency and environmental regenerative building design... Products with similar sustainable qualities as clay masonry have the potential to take us to carbon neutrality through integrative design. As this initiative continues to develop and we obtain support from other industries that believe in our vision, the built environment will move toward standards and practices that demand the use of all inherently sustainable materials." (Emphasis added.)
These are grand and noble aspirations, and one can hope that architects apply their creative thinking towards creating more sustainable brick construction.
So where is the greenwash?
The fine print requires the use of "clay masonry units" in the design. This eliminates the opportunity for designers to consider recent innovations -- such as fly ash brick
-- that mitigate the carbon dioxide emissions associated with firing clay masonry.
If the clay brick industry wants to promote the sustainable qualities of their own products -- and there are many -- then that is well and good. But please spare us the preaching about "thinking beyond all boundaries," "shifting paradigms," "new ideas in manufacturing, and the exploration of 'products with similar qualities as clay masonry.'"