Flush and build

By Gary Hartley

There’s a very grave risk the blog’s taking a turn for the lavatorial. We featured agricultural pig poo-powered energy futures not so long ago – and now we’re headed to Yorkshire, where a classic staple of the building trade is being given a human waste-based twist. 

In many ways this is more a cousin of another of our pig-themed blogs – that on straw as a building material.

Anyway, the gist of the matter is this: Yorkshire Water and Leeds University have teamed up to make bricks from incinerated sewage and vegetable oil – and best of all, they don’t make for a smelly home.

Bringing more of what we’ve already used to perhaps even more useful function is something we’re going to have to be doing more and more as we tighten our belts and aim for carbon reduction targets.

As a side note, the Guardian article where we first spotted this innovation remarks upon something of a regional full circle in terms of construction’s sustainability.

The University spin-off company behind the waste brick is eventually aiming to eradicate cement – responsible for huge CO2 emissions in its production. But Portland cement itself was also the brainchild of a Yorkshireman – Joseph Aspdin, a bricklayer’s son. It has to be said that the article also features some great puns in the readers’ comments section that are not quite suitable for publication here.

Being a son of Yorkshire, I’m well aware of the county’s tendency to make muck shine. Now, we can be proud of the fact we’ve now managed to make it build things too.