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BRICKGURU: A One-of-a-Kind Digital Knowledge Source for a Transforming Building Sector

Sameer Maithel | Tuesday 17 July 2018

Bricks are essential building material in India and across most Asian, African, and Latin American and the demand for them is surging. In India demand for bricks has increased 8-fold in the last 40 years. This is likely to double again in the next 10 to 15 years. Bricks can be of many types: burnt clay, sun-dried clay, a variety of concrete, or bricks made from industrial waste like fly ash brick. Among these, burnt clay brick are the most popular and widely used.

Most of the burnt clay brick production takes place in small enterprises, located in peri-urban the rural areas. These enterprises provide livelihood to millions of families and play an important role in the rural economy. Traditional technologies and methods are used to manufacture them, but these methods were developed in an era when the volume of production was small and natural resources were abundant.  Today following the same traditional methods results in significant negative environmental and social impacts.

While new environmental norms and standards for brick production are being framed and implemented, the market for bricks is also changing. We are increasingly seeing new construction technologies such as monolithic construction technology, prefabricated concrete panels, and others come into use. Given increasing demand, there is pressure to construct buildings at a faster pace, and reduce water consumption and air pollution during construction. Recent introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the government’s focus on digital payments clearly signal to the intent to move informal sectors, like brick production, towards formalization.

Given rapidly changing environment-social-market dynamics, transformation within the brick sector is imminent; and has already started in many ways. The big challenge now is how the industry, government, and society at large will work together to bring about this transformation in an orderly manner towards sustainability. This transformation can be deemed successful only if it creates a win-win situation for all the stakeholders, be it, brick producers, brick users, government, and citizens.

But what does “orderly transformation” mean in this context? For one, it is essential that all stakeholders have access to knowledge, and have necessary skills and capacities which would help them in negotiating this new process. That is where a digital platform such as BRICKGURU is essential. BRICKGURU aims to provide knowledge that is authentic, credible, crisp, and actionable to brick producers, brick users, and policy makers.

BRICKGURU builds on 25 years of action research work with the brick sector. The team behind the platform not only has experience on brick manufacturing but equally on sustainable building design and environment policy. BRICKGURU provides this knowledge through various mediums, such as, knowledge briefs, videos, case studies, and by providing a platform where practitioners can learn from each other. To build capacities of all stakeholders, it offers both online and offline training program and tools.

It the initial phase, BRICKGURU’s focus is on brick production, particularly on adoption of cleaner brick kiln technology. In coming months, knowledge pieces will be added on the manufacturing and use of a variety of resource-efficient bricks ranging from burnt clay hollow blocks and fly ash bricks to AAC blocks.

Launching BRICKGURU would not have been possible without financial support from several supporting organizations. BRICKGURU team has been very fortunate to be the recipient of knowledge, love, and support from a large number of stakeholders, we would like to thank each one of them and look forward to feedback and support from all the users accessing this site to make it better in the coming months and years.

Let us begin our journey towards a resource-efficient future.

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Sameer Maithel

Sameer Maithel

The writer is the Director of
Greentech Knowledge Solutions Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi

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