One
with
nature.

Sustainable building, nature conservation

The cycle on Earth

Our goal is to produce up to 66% of our electricity requirement independently in the near future with the help of solar and wind energy. Thanks to a gas mixing plant, it will also be possible for us to use locally produced biogas or self-generated hydrogen to make our brick products in future. However, it’s not only improving our processes that plays an important role for the future of construction, but also expanding our product range. Take a look at the numerous aspects below that are relevant in the context of sustainability in our production operations.

Local
raw materials

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The positive physical and structural properties of this valuable construction material, one of great value to the lives we live and to cost-effectiveness, are augmented by the ecological added-value we create. Today, this aspect is more important than ever, given the growing significance of environmental factors such as the exploitation of raw materials, energy consumption, air pollution, the greenhouse effect and ground contamination.

GIMA processes approximately 1,000 tonnes of raw material per day. The raw materials used for brick production, clay and sand, mainly come from local deposits. There is a large loess deposit in the immediate vicinity of our plant. The type of raw materials is crucial for the colour of the clay products later on. The raw material in our region contains iron oxide and therefore tends to burn red.

When clay is quarried, the fertile topsoil is removed. The clay layers are extracted and used for local production. If a field is no longer productive or the quality of the clay is no longer adequate, the renaturing of the area can begin immediately. The pits are recultivated.

There are various possibilities here. The most appropriate one is chosen to suit the location: Specifically, this means that the areas of land involved are restored and replanted to their original condition, used as agricultural land or are transformed into valuable biotopes in consultation with environmental bodies in local government.

Carbon footprint

Regenerative energy

Energy is a significant production and cost factor for us. We need different energy suppliers, including electricity and gas. Due to the high expenditure, the brick-making industry has always endeavoured to reduce the amount of energy it requires. At GIMA, we have been able to leverage the scope for saving energy in our production operations to a very significant extent through numerous measures such as improved combustion technology, greater efficiency in the drying of blanks, in-house heat recovery, other forms of improvement to process technology and the generation and use of energy from renewable sources.

Photovoltaic systems


Our goal is to produce as much as possible of the energy we need ourselves in the long term. We currently need 22 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year. The first step we took was to install photovoltaic surfaces with an output of 4,718 kWp on our factory roofs in recent years. This will enable us to generate approximately 5,350,000 kWh per year.

The electricity is used to operate our plants, and we can also use it to charge our electrically powered forklift trucks and, from 2023, to operate several charging stations for electric cars.

Wind turbine

One current major project is the construction of the company’s own wind turbine, which could generate 8.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually. The project is currently in the planning or approval phase and is to be implemented in accordance with nature conservation and species protection regulations.

The planned turbine measures approximately 250 metres high and the rotor diameter is 160 metres. The proposed site is located within the industrial area on the GIMA premises. It is a restored clay mining field that is currently used for agriculture.

Our on-site consumption would be around 85.1%, the rest can be fed into the local grid, as generation and consumption are not 100% synchronous. In the long term, the energy is to be used entirely for our production operations with the help of electricity storage systems.

Gas mixing plant

Another investment is our own gas mixing plant to become more flexible in the utilisation of gas. Our ceramic kilns can currently only be run with gas. A gas mixing plant offers the advantage that sustainable types of gas, such as hydrogen or biogas, can also be mixed in. As a result, we will no longer have to rely on one particular form of gas. Locally produced types of gas can be used and CO2 emissions are reduced.

Heat recovery

The in-house heat recovery is the result of the efficient conversion of our operating facilities. In this process, the warm exhaust air generated during the firing process is discharged at the end of the tunnel kiln. The exhaust air reaches the drying chambers via pipes so they do not have to be heated with additional energy. This heat source is also used to heat our plants.

PRODUCTION & RE-USE

ZERO WASTE PRODUCTION

No production waste is generated during the production of ceramics and bricks. Broken bricks and ceramics accrued during production are returned to the production process sorted by type. Alternatively, broken bricks can also be used for many other purposes.

The possibilities of further use involve as aggregate for crushed brick concrete, as filling or bulk material in the area of road construction and civil engineering, as substrate in garden design and landscape gardening, as material for refilling mines and quarries, when building sound barriers and as tennis powder and tennis sand. The same applies to single-variety bricks from de-constructed building sites. We take these back and recycle them in ground form as shortening material in production. If this is not possible for quality reasons, it makes sense to use it for one of the alternative applications mentioned above. Where these recycling options are not practical, brick residue, broken bricks and leftover bricks incurred on the building site are easy to dispose of and do not pose any extraordinary risks for the environment. They can be easily disposed of in approved construction waste landfills.

The possibilities of further use involve as aggregate for crushed brick concrete, as filling or bulk material in the area of road construction and civil engineering, as substrate in garden design and landscape gardening, as material for refilling mines and quarries, when building sound barriers and as tennis powder and tennis sand. The same applies to single-variety bricks from de-constructed building sites. We take these back and recycle them in ground form as shortening material in production. If this is not possible for quality reasons, it makes sense to use it for one of the alternative applications mentioned above. Where these recycling options are not practical, brick residue, broken bricks and leftover bricks incurred on the building site are easy to dispose of and do not pose any extraordinary risks for the environment. They can be easily disposed of in approved construction waste landfills.

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recycled bricks
High-quality

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GIMA bricks can currently be produced with a recycled content of up to 30%. Our research team is working on further increasing the secondary raw materials content in future. Taking the technical ceramic characteristics of the raw materials used into account, the usual high product quality is achieved with the required properties for bricks.

GIMA processes approximately 1,000 tonnes of raw material per day. Our own processing plants have been modernised and improved to enable the reuse of brick material. Material from both internal and external sources can be processed here.

A wide variety of products from our production operations can be used to manufacture recycled bricks. The following examples are suitable:

• Broken bricks, which are unavoidable in any production operation,
• Bricks that were not used due to a surplus or
• Bricks that have been dismantled sorted by type

In addition, secondary raw materials from other manufacturers can also be processed for production. One example is our cooperation with Hofmann Naturstein. The quarrying of natural stone is environmentally friendly, as the quarries can be returned to nature completely unpolluted as renatured areas. Similarly to clay mining, renatured areas and biotopes are created afterwards.

Sustainable building

Healthy living balance

Brick products create an excellent indoor climate thanks to their special building biology properties.

Due to their large mass and slow reaction to temperature changes, solid building components such as exterior walls made of masonry bricks are able to absorb heat and only release it again with a considerable time delay. The heat is buffered, which attenuates temperature peaks. Modern projects such as the 2226 houses by Baumschläger Eberle Architekten make use of these advantages and incorporate them into the designs for energy-efficient living. The lower the energy requirement, the more climate-friendly the property. Solid walls convince with their natural heat storage effect. The brick-making industry is constantly developing the insulating effect of bricks and has been able to reduce the thermal conductivity (λ) by 60% in the last 15 years.

Due to their large mass and slow reaction to temperature changes, solid building components such as exterior walls made of masonry bricks are able to absorb heat and only release it again with a considerable time delay. The heat is buffered, which attenuates temperature peaks. Modern projects such as the 2226 houses by Baumschläger Eberle Architekten make use of these advantages and incorporate them into the designs for energy-efficient living. The lower the energy requirement, the more climate-friendly the property. Solid walls convince with their natural heat storage effect. The brick-making industry is constantly developing the insulating effect of bricks and has been able to reduce the thermal conductivity (λ) by 60% in the last 15 years.

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We provide planners with EPDs for our products to assess sustainability. You can find the current environmental product declarations here. For any questions do not hesitate to contact us.