Architects, engineers and construction professionals have long been searching for sustainable building materials that can reduce the environmental impact of their work.
Kenoteq, a clean-tech spin-out from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, has developed a novel brick made with 90% recycled content. The sustainable building brick is made from recycled construction and demolition waste, which could help to reduce CO2 emissions and make construction more environmentally friendly.
Walk along any street and there’s one construction material you’re virtually guaranteed to spot – the humble brick. It hadn’t changed much since it was invented 9,000 years ago, until Kenoteq began making its new K-Briq® to fight against climate change.
After more than a decade of development, Professor Gabriela Medero and I spun out the company from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh with a vision to change the way the construction industry handles its waste. Our K-Briq is the most innovative brick to enter the market, made from more than 90% recycled construction and demolition waste and using less than 10% of the energy to make when compared to a conventional brick.
Kilns are heated to more than 1,000 °C to produce traditional clay-fired bricks, with fossil fuels burned to reach those temperatures. As well as greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane, the process also produces other pollution, such as carbon monoxide, sulphur oxides, and fine dust.
In comparison, our K-Briqs produce less than 5% of the greenhouse gases generated by conventional bricks. The K-Briq has also been developed with a high thermal mass, so that it helps keep buildings warm in the winter by retaining heat and cool in the summer. It’s the construction industry’s equivalent of a string vest, reducing heating and air conditioning costs for clients!
K-Briqs aren’t boring, either. Our bricks have started to turn heads in the interiors market as well, ensuring sustainability sits comfortably alongside beauty and design. As well as earning a place in the prestigious Design Museum in London, they are now part of early demonstrator projects.
Waste on the world stage
Last month’s COP27 conference at Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt pointed the finger at unmanaged waste as a “hidden cause of climate change”. The UK’s construction industry alone produces more than 100 million tonnes of waste each year, more than one-third of the country’s total, and generates 40% of Britain’s carbon dioxide emissions.
European Union legislation incorporated into UK law before Brexit now requires 70% of all construction and demolition waste to be recycled, with none being sent to landfill. Those regulatory pressures mean Kenoteq is operating in the right place at the right time. The other benefit is supply and demand – the UK is the largest brick market in Europe, using more than 2.6 billion bricks in 2019 alone. More than 500 million of those bricks had to be imported due to shortages in our domestic supply.
That means our K-Briq can play its part in tackling climate change and can provide a ready supply of a favourite construction material. We’re on track to deliver three million K-Briqs next year (2023), while our upcoming series-A funding round will help to turbo-charge production of our innovative bricks.
Dr Roddy Yarr, Executive Lead of Sustainability at University of Strathclyde, said:
"The K Briq resonates very strongly with the University of Strathclyde and our sustainability aspirations as well as our recognition of innovation and its importance in societal change. This innovative product, coming from another Scottish university with its fantastic sustainability credentials is very exciting. The product’s 90% plus waste composition and this circular resource nature makes it very appealing for our university to deploy as part of our approach to net zero and resource use reduction. The University of Strathclyde very much looks forward to using this product in the very near future."
Allan Young, Developments Technician at Springfield Properties PLC, said:
"At Springfield, we have sustainability at our core and regularly explore ways to build our homes better for our customers and the environment. When we heard of the great work Kenoteq is doing in this area by recycling construction waste into bricks, we were keen to learn more. They hosted a very useful and informative CPD, and we’re keen to use their K-Briq’s in the future. Given the environmental benefits and the eye-catching colour pallet, we’re exploring the use of K-Briq as a feature wall on our new Durieshill village information centre in Stirling."
Kenoteq will be exhibiting at Futurebuild in London from 7th - 9th March 2023, but if you can’t wait that long, pop into Tuk Tuk’s new restaurant on Drummond Street in the Southside area of Edinburgh. Their new statement bar is made from K-Briqs.
Kenoteq are also delivering CPD sessions to architecture, interior design and engineering practices throughout the UK, as well as to contractors and clients. To book a CPD session, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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