Dhaka – UNDP Deputy Country Director Nick Beresford gives insight into the importance of the brick industry and Bangladesh, and how it can be made more sustainable.
UNDP and the House Building Research Institute (HBRI) held a joint policy dialogue about the transformation needed in the traditional brick sector, highlighting its significant contribution to air pollution, top soil loss (2840 million CFT/y) and CO2 emissions (11.59 million tons/y). Two Directors from China Ministry of Agriculture and Academy of Building Research shared the Chinese experience in making the brick industry more sustainable.
The participants spoke of a new vision: ‘Beyond Brick’. The future in Bangladesh will focus on new, eco-friendly building materials, energy-efficient production, and materials that are light and resistant to earthquakes.
The erosion of top soil was universally decried as a threat to food security. Creative new solutions, including partnerships with the private sector and new market mechanisms, can help to shape a new direction for the industry.
UNDP has been working with Brick Sector since 2004 to promote ‘Green’ Bricks. To enhance this further, it will continue to promote south-south cooperation between government of Bangladesh and China.
This project is designed to remove barriers to the widespread adoption of energy efficient kilns (specialised ovens for brick making). The age old technology that is prevalent in the traditional brickfields in Bangladesh is not environment friendly and causes serious health threats to the workers and the neighbouring population, as well as being Bangladesh’s biggest stationary source of carbon emissions.
Brick making operations are mostly within the informal small enterprise sector, and does not have financial or strong incentives to become more energy efficient. It is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the country, estimated to be on the order of 6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually. It is also a major source of land degradation and deforestation.
The GREEN Brick project aims to implement 15 demonstration energy efficient kilns in a five year period. It will result in the direct energy savings of 314 kilotons of coal by the end of the project. In the upcoming 15 years, direct greenhouse gas emission reductions should be of 1,470 kilotons of CO2. Moreover, it introduces a gender empowerment component, demonstrating that generating environmentally and socially acceptable jobs is possible.
As of December 2012, five energy efficient kilns (also known more precisely as the Hybrid Hoffman Kiln – HHK), were commercially operational with a total reduction of 16 kilotons of CO2 emission and six kilotons of coal usage. Construction of another eight HHK is underway, and 25 more similar projects are undertaken by the private sector.
Accomplishments in regards to policies are equally notable:
The Supreme Court of Bangladesh ruled against brick-kiln in 11 ecologically critical areas.
The Brick Manufacturing Control Act 2013 has been approved by the Cabinet.
The Department of Environment has banned the traditional kilns and ordered their shut down by June 30, 2013.
The project has also successfully created wider awareness among the population through its media interventions and campaigns.
At the historic Rio+20 Conference in June 2012, GREEN Brick was highlighted by the government as a win-win success story from the least developed countries. It was also showcased as among the top 10 results of UNDP Bangladesh in 2006-2011.
The project is also engaged in others areas of work:
Asian RICE project funded by UNESCO
Green Development funded by the Government of the Netherlands
Gender empowerment by the Global Gender and Climate Alliance (GGCA) – World News Report via EIN News