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September 29, 2011 7:00 AM CDT

Revolutionizing the environmental impact of masonry

CalStar bricks have a traditional look with improved environmental credentials


CalStar bricks meet or exceed ASTM standard performance requirements.

CalStar bricks meet or exceed ASTM standard performance requirements.
CalStar Products is addressing the need for a high-performing brick that achieves a traditional look and feel, while offering significantly improved environmental credentials, by changing brick manufacturing.

Reducing the carbon footprint

The traditional brick-making process, during which clay is mined, dried and fired in a kiln powered by fossil fuels, releases about 0.9 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, meaning nearly a full pound of greenhouse gas is generated for each brick. CalStar’s propriety technology does not require firing and produces only 0.1 pound of carbon dioxide per unit, representing an 85-percent reduction from traditional bricks.

CalStar achieves this by using fly ash as the binder in the bricks. Each CalStar brick contains about 40 percent fly ash, a byproduct of electricity generation that would otherwise go into a landfill. This recycled content allows CalStar bricks to contribute to projects seeking LEED certification. CalStar’s bricks also contribute to regional materials credits, for projects within 500 miles of CalStar’s plant in Wisconsin.

Performance and sustainability

CalStar bricks meet or exceed ASTM standard performance requirements, and provide reliable performance and usability. CalStar bricks are easy to cut and lay. The bricks are freeze-thaw resistant, demonstrate exceptional dimensional consistency, and have the one-hour fire rating required of bricks of that size. They are available in modular and utility sizes.

Making a difference

CalStar bricks can be used in any design in which bricks are specified. They contribute to the sustainability goals of individual projects, while reducing the environmental impact of the building industry as a whole. Take, for example, the average elementary school with 30,000 square feet of modular brick. Replacing conventional brick with CalStar brick saves over 1 billion BTUs of energy; avoids nearly 81 tons of CO2 emissions; and recycles nearly 160 tons of material otherwise headed for a landfill.

For projects that seek to achieve the traditional look of masonry, while simultaneously reducing the environmental footprint, bricks from CalStar Products provide a solution that is comparable to clay in performance and price.

To learn more, visit

Originally published in Masonry magazine.

About the Author

Masonry, the official publication of the Mason Contractors Association of America, covers every aspect of the mason contractor profession - equipment and techniques, building codes and standards, business planning, promoting your business, legal issues and more. Read or subscribe to Masonry magazine at


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