The burning of coal, wood and bamboo to manufacture bricks contributes about 23% of Bangladesh’s total carbon emissions

Concrete blocks should be used as a substitute for bricks in construction to maintain the balance of the environment and protect agricultural land, urban planners and public officials said on Wednesday.

The comment was made at a seminar organized by Nagar Unnayan Sangbadik Forum at the CIRDAP auditorium in Dhaka to promote the use of concrete over bricks to reduce carbon emissions.

“The country manufactures a minimum of 17.2 billion bricks per year,” Md Abdul Awal, managing director of Structural Engineers Ltd, said, quoting data from the Bangladesh House Building Research Institute. 

“This requires the burning of 240 million tons of coal, as well as wood and bamboo. The burning emits about 9.8 million tons of carbon dioxide, amounting to 23% of Bangladesh’s total carbon emissions.”

Abdul – who presented the keynote paper at the seminar – said the main element for making bricks the topsoil of cultivable land. 

He said: “As a result of the use of topsoil to make bricks, cultivable land is losing fertility. Farmers are resorting to the use of chemicals and fertilizers to compensate for the reduced fertility, which in turn pollutes the environment.” 

According to data from the Department of Land Records and Survey, the total area of cultivable land in Bangladesh was 21.7 million acres in 1971.

By 1997, the area of cultivable land had decreased to 17.4 million acres, and the area of cultivable land in Bangladesh was recorded at approximately 15.4 million acres in 2012. 

Prof Adil Md Khan, general secretary of the Bangladesh Institute of Planners (BIP), said the use of concrete blocks in our country has already started. 

“These blocks are being constructed using cement and stone caps, and by dredging sand from the river,” he said. 

“The process does not involve any burning. Concrete blocks are more durable than bricks, and are also environmentally friendly.” 

Housing and Public Works Minister Mosharraf Hossain said the government should reduce tariffs on imported stone to help concrete production, as there are no stone quarries in Bangladesh.

“Using concrete blocks instead of bricks is a great idea for sustainable development; it is the right time to stop using bricks,” he said. 

“The government should impose higher taxes on brick making factories and provide a ten year tax holiday for concrete block making factories.”

Speakers at a seminar organized by Nagar Unnayan Sangbadik Forum to promote the use of concrete blocks over bricks to reduce carbon emissions, at the CIRDAP auditorium Dhaka on Wednesday; September 19, 2018 Dhaka Tribune