5 Most Eco-Friendly Brick Materials

5 Most Eco-Friendly Brick Materials

See the most sustainable bricks materials that are helping to reduce carbon emissions

5 Most Eco-Friendly Brick Materials

With the construction sector contributing some 40% of all the UK’s carbon emissions the pressure to reach net-zero by 2050 is increasing.  As part of its 10-point plan, the UK government has made it clear that the construction industry needs to clean up its act and embrace the green movement. 

One of the contributing factors for carbon emissions is the materials used, with an estimated 1.3 trillion bricks manufactured worldwide of which 800 million tons of Co2 are released annually. This looks like a good place to start and endeavour to see what eco-friendly alternatives are available. 

But what are the most eco-friendly bricks available?

The most eco-friendly bricks available include bricks made from natural materials like Clay and Hemp as well as bricks made from industrial waste and turning it into sustainable bricks such as Fly Ash bricks.  

There are also innovative new products coming to market, from France utilising waste fabrics and the new eco-friendly award-winning brick from Scotland that utilises at least 90% construction waste.

Read on for a more in-depth discussion on which bricks are eco-friendly.


  1. Clay Bricks
  2. Fly Ash Bricks
  3. Hempcrete Block 
  4. K-Briq
  5. FabBrick

1. Clay 

When you think of bricks, it is often the rectangular red house brick that springs to mind.  A solid, hard block predominantly used to build houses and walls.  With their tensile strength, durability, and high thermal mass, it is no wonder that this has been the favoured brick for 75% of residential buildings in the UK. 

These rectangular construction blocks are versatile and suitable for other designs including barbeque stands or other decorative exterior items in the home and garden due to their weatherproof capabilities.

They are predominantly manufactured from clay, sand and water and these materials make for a non-combustible, sound reducing, environmentally friendly brick material.  It is only with the curing or firing process that starts to let these environmentally friendly bricks down and increase their carbon footprint. 

With the firing and transportation being the main culprits for carbon emission, brick manufacturers are implementing ways to improve the sustainability of their manufacturing processes and products, whilst developing innovative ways to be more efficient with their waste. 

One great environmental benefit of clay bricks is the ability to recycle and resell, due to their durability and long-life expectancy, it is possible to clean, re-use or re-purpose bricks from demolition, making these a sustainable environmentally friendly alternative than using new ones. 

2. Fly Ash Bricks

An alternative for Clay bricks is Fly Ash Bricks.  These smooth lightweight bricks are produced from the industrial waste materials from powerplants that would otherwise be dumped in landfills and left to pollute the environment.

Despite the way the original fly ash material is produced, the process for converting from the original waste materials to the new product has a relatively low carbon footprint and makes these quite a sustainable brick.

The waste from the coal-fired power plants is saved and manufactured in an efficient process, the ingredients are mixed and then compressed and cured in steam to produce a durable, tensile, building material.  

The advantages of this material include having a low water absorption rate as well as providing good sound and thermal insulation.  

The versatility of the product means that it can be produced in a variety of strengths and sizes so can be manufactured to be suitable for partition and load-bearing walls on residential properties as well as being manufactured to be suitable for infrastructure projects including roads, pavements, bridges etc. 

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3. Hempcrete Blocks

One very environmentally friendly brick on the market currently is the Hempcrete brick.  This brick is manufactured from Hemp husks, a lime binder and water and is becoming a popular building material in the UK after being successfully used for the last decade in Europe.

These hempcrete blocks provide an impressive carbon-negative building material.  Utilising the fast-growing sustainable hemp plant. This crop absorbs more carbon in its lifetime than is emitted from manufacture and use.

 It can be grown on most soils and in most climates and this allows the hemp plant to be classed as a “globally local crop”.  This further reduces the possible carbon emissions of any logistical journey from the field to the final product.

Hemp is a natural weed suppressant and pest resistant so the need for any additional fertilisers or chemicals is greatly reduced. With the whole plant being able to be utilised from the oil, seed and strong fibres, this crop really is a very sustainable eco-friendly material. 

The hemp blocks provide a natural fire resistance with great insulating, acoustic and thermal performance.   These eco-green building bricks provide a flexible breathable membrane making them an ideal material for residential properties, suitable for several applications including walls, floors, and ceilings. 

 However, care must be taken when building with this product and ensure the correct product is used for the rights application. Several products on the market are sadly unsuitable to be used for load-bearing walls.  New hemp bricks from company IsoHemp have been designed to overcome these faults and these allow for a concrete or metal framework to be incorporated to provide the necessary strength.   

The only current disadvantage to these incredibly eco-friendly bricks is their incapability to perform well when exposed to standing or running water.  This makes them unsuitable for foundations or basement structures, otherwise, these Hempcrete bricks are very sustainable bricks.

4. K-Briq

With an estimated third of all waste being generated from the construction and demolition industry in the EU, and the volumes of these to be doubled in the next 30 years.

One Scottish company has developed an innovative product to try and utilise these materials, incorporate more of a circular economy and are attempting to reduce the amount of further waste going to landfills.

Kenoteq set up in 2019, has designed and produced a new product made up of at least 90% recycled construction and demolition waste.  This very new product is currently being trialled under restricted usage, awaiting the UK and US patents for its K-Briq to be granted.  With impressive initial results, this new brick looks set to make a very big impact on the construction industry. 

Rather than utilising fossil fuels for firing, this brick incorporates a moulding process and the whole manufacturing process is estimated to take just 24 hours to manufacture from the receipt of the waste items to the brick ready to leave the factory gate for use on-site. 

The product itself is lighter than a standard brick but provides double the thermal insulation.  It is produced using at least 90% recycled materials and releases only 1 tenth of the carbon emissions from its production. Kenteq is hoping this versatile sustainable brick will be a replacement for traditional clay bricks and by extending the range of sizes and colours, they are hoping to ensure they have a brick for every purpose. 

5. FabBrick

Another innovative eco-friendly sustainable brick that has been developed is from a French Entrepreneur and architect Clarrise Merlet, known as the “FabBrick”. She has designed, manufactured, and delivered a product making the most out of waste textiles, saving them from landfills and creating a brick of beauty.

By mixing shredded coloured scraps of waste material with an eco-friendly adhesive, Clarrise Merlet has developed a process to mechanically press and mould the fabric scrap substance into multicoloured blocks.  Once turned out and left to dry these eco-friendly bricks have a self-locking design which enables them to be stacked without movement.  

Other advantages of this multicoloured eco-friendly brick are its ability to react well to fire and moisture and provide great heat and sound insulating properties. 

The building blocks themselves are exclusively made from bio-sourced and non-polluting ingredients with the equivalent of two t-shirts of material per block. By utilising the waste textiles that would otherwise have been sent to landfills into a more usable product, this makes them a very environmentally friendly brick. 

Since 2018, over 12 metric tons of textile have been recycled and reused into more than 40,000 bricks and delivered to seven construction sites for companies including Vinci Construction and Joules to be used as internal partition walls or to create storage units to display clothes and products for shops and commercial use. 

Development is underway to look at ways of implementing and expanding the range to be able to be used in a more structural capacity.  

Although early days, this innovative award-winning product is sure to make a dent in the number of waste textiles that are thrown away every day.  To be re-utilised as bricks for display units in clothing shops seems a nice circular end, like the clothes going “home” rather than left to rot in landfill at the end of their wearable life.