SWITCH Africa Green (SAG) is an excitingb EU-funded programme to accelerate Africa’s transition to inclusive sustainable consumption and production practices
The Clay Brick Association of Southern Africa (CBA) is
one of the non-profit organisations implementing one
of the SAG initiatives. The project drives sustainability
in the production of clay brick, as well as advocating
the use of energy-efficient construction materials and
technologies. SA Building Review spoke to Mariana Lamont,
executive director of the CBA about the project.
Why would the European Union support South
African initiatives in sustainability?
South Africa is the largest CO2 emitter in Africa
primarily due to the county’s coal-fired power stations.
Reducing the use of electricity and coal can have a
tangible impact on global fossil fuel emissions.
Why was the clay brick industry selected to play a
role in the programme?
I believe there are three essential elements that will
lead to the success of our initiatives:
1. Homeowners are keen to reduce electricity
bills. Therefore, they are open to learning how
the right construction materials can lead to
improved thermal comfort while achieving
2. The clay brick sector is well regulated with only
120 large producers, so improvements in a few
companies can have a significant impact.
3. Finally, the industry has a strong, professional
association – the CBA – who supports
independent research, distributes findings and
explores new technologies.
Over the last five years, the CBA’s Energy Efficient
Clay Brick Programme has resulted in a 10-15%
reduction in the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions.
SAG financial support will allow us to drive further
Claybrick Associatiom of South Africa
How can clay brick production become more
Clay bricks are ceramic products – bricks are fired in
a kiln at high temperatures and these often use coal.
Reducing coal use or switching brick-makers to other
fuels will reduce CO2 emissions.
Our SAG-funded industry portal allows CBA members
to measure their sustainability performance. The
data collected helps brick manufacturers to make
informed decisions about new technologies.
Over the past five years, the CBA has published
several research studies. The lessons learned in South
Africa are being shared in Europe, the UK and USA
Is the SAG sustainability initiative limited to these
few large producers?
The CBA is also educating the informal sector –
artisanal brick-makers who mould bricks by hand. The
CBA is working with local government and champions
in the informal settlements to share practical ways to
reduce coal and water consumption, air pollution and
Is the sustainability initiative limited to the
Operational energy use increases South Africa’s
carbon footprint, and is an expensive, long-term
cost for the property owner and particularly crucial in
designing affordable housing. The CBA is working with
national authorities to improve building standards
with regard to insulation and built-in thermal
Where can homeowners and construction
professionals find out more about energy-efficient
design and materials?
The CBA’s research helps architects and engineers
maximise thermal comfort and energy efficiency in
residential and commercial buildings. To facilitate
energy efficient building design and construction,
technical manuals and factsheets are available free
on our website