Using masonry can increase a building's sustainability and help to reduce environmental impact.
The materials used in masonry, including brick, block and stone have minimal maintenance requirements and are extremely durable. This helps to reduce building maintenance costs over the life of the building.
Masonry units come in a variety of colours and textures, and do not require paints or adhesives. In some circumstances masonry can be salvaged and re-used, or the material can be recycled into new masonry materials. The restoration of masonry buildings is also a sustainable practice.
Construction Canada Magazine has published interesting articles on the subject. To view these articles, please click here and here.
The International Masonry Institute (IMI) supplies a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) checklist that can help designers achieve up to 52 LEED points by utilizing masonry. Visit the International Masonry Institute website, or click here to view the list.
Safe and Sturdy Structures
Concrete block partition and infill walls are heavy, which forces the structure to have the required strength to support these walls. This allows for a proper concrete or concrete steel/structure. Concrete floors reduce noise between floors and better compartmentalize fire.
Concrete firewalls have a 2 hour fire rating and can withstand the pressure of a fire house, providing a much safer alternative to composite wood and drywall. Clay brick has an even greater resistance and is used to train firefighters. It can repeatedly be set alight and doused with water.
Masonry effectively manages a buildings' moisture as it does not lose structural strength when wet, and allows moisture to escape through methods such as a drained cavity masonry veneer. Since masonry stores moisture it does not mold or rot, problems that effect other building materials such as wood.
With a variety of material choices including brick, concrete block, glass block and stone that come in a range of sizes, shapes and colours, designing with masonry offers unparallel flexibility. It has long been a construction material of choice, used in schools, museums, hospitals, fences and everything in between.
Masonry units can be manufactured for specific applications. Examples include noise reduction in schools or for the use in correctional facilities.
Often imitated but never duplicated, the quality and durability of masonry cannot be matched.