Brickmaking and the environment
Brickmaking is an energy intensive industry with large amounts of heat needed for drying and firing, which is not the most considerate to our environment. It is impossible to get away from this heat requirement so the answer is to use renewable sources of energy rather than fossil fuels. Wood provides the perfect solution as a fully renewable, locally available source of energy, which is obviously beautiful to look at and provides a rich habitat while it is growing.
Reducing the impact
Brickmaking can also impact the landscape through clay extraction. Where our clay pits are not simply returned to agriculture we seek to turn this impact to an advantage through the creation of ponds or wooded dells which actually enrich the environment in the longer term.
Each year around a million litres of rainwater a year are collected from the roofs of the brickworks buildings and used in the brick making process.
To date we have planted over 25 acres of native species, broad leafed woodland, under the supervision of the Chiltern Woodlands Project on land previously dug for clay.
Looking for alternatives
We have invested significant time in researching and developing the optimum process for drying our bricks, in doing so we have innovated and become the first brickmaker to use biomass for brick drying.
Each of the ten biomass boilers which provide heat to our driers are predominantly powered by wood felled from our own and other local Chiltern woodland, which is then chipped onsite. These biomass boilers have saved the purchase of 360,000 litres of diesel a year which represents a significant carbon saving while also boosting the local wood fuel economy.
Our biomass driers and wood fired kilns make us a significant user of wood. The forestry industry is of course strictly controlled, all felling is licensed by the Forestry Commission and we only source wood from woodland where trees will be replanted.