Environmentalists at a convention yesterday recommended reducing use of traditional burnt clay bricks as well as those that need excessive soil.
They made the recommendations in their 11-point declaration at a national convention on “Use of Eco-friendly Alternative Bricks for Sustainable Development in Bangladesh” held at the Seminar Hall of Krishibid Institution Bangladesh.
Oxfam in collaboration with Housing and Building Research Institute (HBRI), Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela) and Jagarani Chakra Foundation (JCF) organised the event.
The convention was attended by environmentalists, dignitaries and industry experts from all over Bangladesh.
Other recommendations made at the programme include identifying alternatives to burnt clay bricks and reducing its use through long-term planning, rational pricing done by regulatory bodies concerned, proper implementation of the directives from Prime Minister’s Office, implementation of Brick Making and Brickfield Establishment (control) Amendment Act, finalising and approval of all relevant laws including Bangladesh National Building Code (BNBC) promptly; incorporating sections on use of alternatives to burnt clay bricks in BNBC and building construction rules.
Chief Executive of Bela Syeda Rizwana Hasan read out the declaration at the convention while Director General of Department of Environment AKM Rafique Ahammed spoke as chief guest.
Making burnt clay bricks requires a huge amount of topsoil as well as fuel for burning it. Studies reveal that every year Bangladesh loses one percent of agricultural land of which 17.4 percent is used for manufacturing bricks -- amounting to 18,000 hectares (180 square kilometres), said Mohammad Abu Sadeque, former director of HBRI.
The loss of such vast areas of land has an explicit negative effect on food security. Moreover, about 8 million tonnes of coal and wood are being used for baking 25 billion bricks per year causing emission of about 15 million tonnes of oxides of carbon, he said.
Over the last five years, the Housing and Building Research Institute has worked with some alternative materials such as dredged soil and sand which are agro-friendly, environment-friendly, durable, sustainable and affordable, Sadeque said.
Alternative technologies include hollow concrete blocks, thermal blocks using expanded polystyrene sheet, compressed stabilised earth blocks (CSEB), interlocking CSEB, Ferro cement wall panels, and Ferro cement laminated sandwich panels. Moreover, some other alternative technologies are already available in the market. The most superior alternative to bricks -- autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC) blocks -- is about to enter the market, he added.
Urban planner and architect Mubasser Hussain said it is imperative to ensure quality of the alterative products to make them acceptable to all.
Among others, Mohammad Shamim Akhter, director, HBRI; and Dr Md Khalid Hossain, economic justice resilience programme manager at Oxfam in Bangladesh, spoke at the convention.