Also see, Potomac Valley Brick Announces the Winners of "Brick-Stainable"

Sustainability Education:

Brick Industry Association
Green Building Design and Sustainability on-line course for manufacturers and distributors. Learn about the sustainable benefits and applications of brick and how it compares to other building materials. At the end of the course, "Green Brick Specialists" will be able to advise builders and architects.

International Masonry Institute
The Sustainable Masonry Certification Program is for all trowel trade contractors. The program will focus on the main green principles of masonry systems and best practices for LEED compliance.

Mason Contractors Association of America
Green Attributes of Masonry focuses on ways you can spread the word about masonry as a green product. Learn about LEED project certification and how masonry can help designers earn credits.

Green building is more than a trend. It is now a real factor in the battle for market share. Designers and customers are learning to see through “green-washing,” or flimsy claims of sustainability. Having a greener product is truly a critical part of becoming specified and winning bids.

Groups are helping promote brick's green attributes. The Brick Industry Association offers a Green Building Design and Sustainability course to educate manufacturers and distributors about the sustainable benefits and applications of brick and how it compares to other building materials. The International Masonry Institute has a new Sustainable Masonry Certification Program for contractors and designers.

While education is important, the job of promoting brick's greenness falls largely on manufacturers, distributors, and masons. Potomac Valley Brick and Supply Company (PVB), a distributor in Rockville, Md., is determined to further the cause. Led by president Alan Richardson, PVB is launching an international design competition to inspire new, greener applications for brick.

“We want to get the message out that the clay brick industry is aware we need to look at new uses for our product and we are willing to go to those individuals who can find new ways to use it,” says Richardson.

The competition, called Brick-Stainable: Rethinking Brick, challenges entrants to design a passively heated and cooled building using clay masonry as a primary material. Entries will be conceptual designs, not built structures, with detailed specifications on the purpose, layout, and location of the building to ensure consistent judging criteria. PVB does not limit materials to a specific type of brick.

Peter Doo, former AIA Baltimore president and head of Doo Consulting in Baltimore, a sustainability consulting firm, lends his expertise. “The idea behind the competition is to draw attention to the inherently-sustainable nature of brick and make it stand out in the clutter of products claiming to be green,” Doo says.

By asking people to design a sustainable brick project and provide evidence of how it will perform, Doo hopes to collect the data and create bulletins. “Our goal is to share these results with the design community so they know how to apply it and capitalize on it during construction,” he says.