Back to basics for 'green' Afghan building

Low-carbon bricks made of compressed earth are being used to rebuild homes in troubled Afghanistan.

The bricks are cheap, easy to produce, use readily accessible materials and require far less energy to make than kiln-fired bricks.

Using only soil and a small amount of lime or cement, the portable machinery used for making the bricks is self-powered so can be used in remote areas not connected to the grid.

The resulting tongue-and-groove bricks slot together without need for mortar making them an easy-to-use building material.

"We currently have orders for a number of rebuilding projects, including a Kabul housing complex, gymnasium, orphanage, and a vocational training institute," said Rafaat Ludin, founder of GBT, the company licenced to manufacture the US-designed brick-making machine in Afghanistan.

"Afghans deserve every opportunity to access affordable and sustainable building materials; we believe this is critical to their long-term success as a nation."

While in Afghanistan the accessibility of the building materials are every bit as important as the environmental performance of the bricks, it is the green credentials which are attracting attention from developers overseas.

In the United States, several large construction materials companies are looking at the low-carbon bricks as a cost effective means of building walls for housing or commercial buildings, landscaping and farm outbuildings.

Sam Bond



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