Brickmaker is stepping up to carbon neutral challenge

The award-winning York Handmade Brick Company is to build on its green credentials with the launch of a series of eco-friendly initiatives.

Steve Pittham (development manager), Alun Nixon (area sales manager), Guy Armitage (managing director) with the York Handmade Brick electric company cars

The firm, based at Alne, near Easingwold, said it is appropriate for the group to boost its green credentials because its handmade bricks are the most sustainable of all building products. It said that its bricks have a life cycle of hundreds of years and are very environmentally-friendly.

York Handmade’s managing director, Guy Armitage, said: “The threat to our environment is one of the great challenges of the 21st century. It is essential that manufacturers such as ourselves do our bit to help to preserve our precious and fragile world.

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“Our new brick dryers have reduced our overall energy consumption by 10 per cent already, following a refurb in 2019. We are now refurbing a second dryer this year and looking at ways to recover heat more efficiently from our kilns to dry bricks.

“We are investigating non-fossil fuel sources of electric and gas for the future. In the UK, a fellow brick company is pioneering carbon capture technology of its exhaust emissions and we are keen to investigate if this is something we can benefit from too.”

He said there are many exciting possibilities to make brick an even greener, more durable product.

Brick can last for over 500 years and can be reclaimed and reused from buildings which are at the end of their life.

Mr Armitage said: “This year we have planted half an acre of trees and 400 metres of hedging as part of our quarry restoration plan at our headquarters in Alne.

“As part of our environmental continual improvement strategy for the environment, we have procured two fully electric cars and a PHEV car replacing what recently would have been three diesel cars, including a gas-guzzling pick up.”

The firm estimates this will save three tonnes of carbon emissions per year.

“As a brick maker we are energy intensive, but not energy inefficient,” said Mr Armitage.

“The UK is going to be carbon neutral by 2050 and as a brick maker we are up for the challenge of going carbon neutral by 2050 too.

“We carefully calculate and monitor an average amount of carbon emissions per brick produced for each quarter of the year – and we are looking to reduce our carbon footprint whenever we can. We have managed to do so in every successive year since 2005.”

The firm said its ability to be entirely flexible in its production means it has a very strong hand to play when it comes to conservation and sustainability.

It added that the art of hand-moulding bricks, which dates back to Roman times, could not be more ecologically sound.

Mr Armitage said: “We are also particularly proud of the fact that the majority of our employees are local people who have grown up with the company.

“There is a strong pride in their work and their skills have been honed to add to their natural willingness to work hard and have pride in the finished article.

“This emphasis on local labour is crucially important for the local economy, again a very important factor in sustainability.”