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Can Traditional Stone and Brick Masonry Contribute to Net-Zero Energy?

Brick Masonry
Many builders and property owners are looking for ways to construct or retrofit properties with the idea of net-zero energy in mind. However, you may want to know if brick and traditional masonry can help you achieve that net-zero profile. Learn more about net zero, how it works, and how brick can work with it.
What Is Net-Zero Energy?
You need to understand what net zero means and what it doesn't. Net zero typically implies a building that balances out energy use with energy production. The energy use of your building needs to equal the energy the building produces over the course of a year to reach a net-zero status.
Most buildings don't reach true net zero. Nevertheless, the constant effort and fine-tuning towards that goal can get you close enough to a net-zero profile to make a significant difference.
Benefits of Net Zero
Achieving even half of net-zero energy can bring tremendous benefits. Net zero can:
  • Increase property value and resale value
  • Promote a healthier environment for building occupants and visitors
  • Increase comfort for building occupants and visitors
  • Decrease energy costs
  • Decrease maintenance costs
  • Reduce environmental footprint and dependence on fossil fuels
  • Mitigate any potential energy price hikes
  • Reduce total cost of ownership
  • Futureproof building against the need for legislated retrofits
You can extrapolate any one of these benefits into further benefits. For these reasons and more, you should consider net-zero programs for both old and new construction.
How to Achieve Net Zero
No one path towards net-zero energy exists. Rather, each building will have to make a plan which takes into account the total energy use of the building and consider how to mitigate it as much as possible. For example, approaching net zero can include both adding photovoltaic cells and educating occupants on how to use less energy for common tasks.
You'll find many approaches, philosophies, courses, and general advice for achieving net-zero energy. You'll need to learn some of those things and start applying them to your properties or future properties. Generally, achieving net zero will require some understanding of all of the following:
  • Implementing energy efficiency wherever possible
  • Implementing sources of renewable energy
  • Applying insulation and super insulation
  • Finding ways to seal the building's envelope
For new construction, implementing many of these things from the start will make it easier to approach net-zero energy. Implementation during construction helps builders add in features that make it easier to take advantage of energy efficiency methods in the future.
With some effort, you can even achieve a net positive status. In such scenarios, your building produces more energy than it uses.
How Does Brick Masonry Contribute to Net-Zero Energy?
Achieving net zero or near zero energy starts with the shell of the building. A lot of what makes net-zero buildings work is the ability of the building to maintain its thermal envelope.
Advanced masonry techniques can protect the R-value of the building and mitigate degraded performance from the building's thermal bridges. Brick can also act as a thermal storage medium for passive solar systems.
Generally, brick helps to mitigate most things that can degrade thermal performance. Starting with implementing stone, brick, and other traditional forms of masonry engineering, you can go a long way towards achieving a net-zero status.
Net zero starts with a professional, knowledgeable, and experienced masonry contractor. Without a building that's ready to move forward with energy efficiency and sustainability, your building won't be able to achieve net zero or near-zero energy. Whether for new construction or for a retrofit towards net zero,  contact the Whitney-Anderson Building Group, LLC, for all of your masonry needs.