Brick is not only one of
the most attractive of building materials, it is also one of the most
sustainable. It is a natural, quality and maintenance-friendly product which is
durable during all phases of its life cycle – from its construction phase with
the use of raw materials through to the production process to packaging. Meanwhile
the porous structure of bricks offers a huge advantage: the ability to
accumulate heat. In winter, during sunny days, bricks can store heat from the
sun and radiate the energy back when necessary. During the summer they can
combat the heat and thus avoid overheating a building.
This sustainable nature
of bricks is something of which we are very proud here at York Handmade. We are
very careful to manage and monitor the many things that brick-makers do that
affect the environment. This includes monitoring emissions and managing their use
to reduce them as far as possible. For example our new efficient dryer, built
in-house, facilitated a drop in gas use of 20% as part of our continual drive for
improvement. It also means having emergency contingency plans in the unlikely
event of any spillages.
We also have full waste
audits so we know where our waste is going and ensure as much as possible is reduced,
reused or recycled. You might think all this would be a given, but if you are
buying bricks sourced from the Punjab belt, we are not sure they could tick any
of these boxes. This underlines why it is absolutely crucial to know where your
bricks have been manufactured.
As a local business we
have an annual turnover of nearly £3,000,000, much of which is spent locally
with suppliers and contractors. We also employ 30 local people. We have been
trading since 1988 on a very consistent basis, playing our role in helping to sustain
the local economy.
Our redundant quarry
provided a landfill site for 20 years. The methane gas is captured and
providing 0.5 MW of electric energy per year the local grid. Our new quarry
site, next to our factory, has gone through environmental impact assessments
and requires approval from the water board, the environment agency and the
local authority, which needs a full restoration plan for when it is finished. The quarry will undergo ecology, hydrology and
even archaeological surveys. All this is underpinned by law with the directors
responsible we do not satisfy all these organisations.
Our 35-acre acre site houses a restored quarry pond (pictured)
which supplies water to the factory, thus reducing our demand on mains
water. This water, which cycles through the factory, mixing only with inert
materials such as clay and sand, warms up the water and aerates it to the
benefit of the fish. The pond is regularly fished and has at least a dozen species
of very healthy fish and has done since 1988. The renowned Gatsby Plant Centre send
their students here every year because of the wide spectrum of plant species
they can find, including the relatively rare bee orchid.
Ultimately, we are really
passionate about consumers being able to make informed choices about the
credentials and provenance of their products and are very happy to host visits
around the factory to help reassure them that our environmental credentials really
are what they say they are. We are relentless in looking for more sustainable
ways of working so we can look after our planet for future generations. And we
are proud to do so.