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Low-cost 'green block' use on rise among realtors

Top cos set up factories to meet own demand

Jasim Uddin Haroon and Yasir Wardad | January 31, 2018 00:00:00

In lieu of traditional bricks, locally-invented 'green block' is gradually becoming popular among realtors, as it is cheaper and disaster-resilient in a quake-vulnerable country.

The Housing and Building Research Institute (HBRI), under the Ministry of Housing and Public Works, invented the item recently. It is now being used by the realtors, which has reduced their dependency on traditional building materials.

People at HBRI in the city told the FE that the demand for the block is on the rise, as the private sector realtors are opting to use the disaster-resilient and environment-friendly construction material.

The big real estate companies are producing the key building material on their own premises, as it needs a small piece of land.

They also said more than 20 top realtors in the country have set up their own factories for ensuring own supply of the building material.

The item, also known as 'hollow block', can be of 24 types depending on the design of the buildings.

The brick does not need any boiling in kilns, which have been taking a heavy toll on the country's environment for decades, HBRI Director Mohammad Abu Sadeque told the FE.

He said it is actually compressed stabilised earth block made of soil dredged out of rivers and cement.

Md Akhter Hossain Sarker, senior research officer at the institute, told the FE that the use of the block can minimise construction cost by 30 per cent, but its key feature is it saves farmland and cuts air pollution.

"One can make 8,000-10,000 blocks a day at a small place using a machine costing Tk 2.0 million."

He also said they use sand derived from dredging as the key raw material for producing the natural block. It consists of around 80 per cent of the block. The other key raw material is cement, which usually consists around 20 per cent of a block.

The block is cheaper as it costs between Tk 10-12 each, and each block is equivalent to more than 1.5 bricks.

Concord Group of Companies Ltd, one of the key realtors in the country, has set up a unit in their factory to produce the block, said officials.

They also confirmed that one of the big realtors has decided to use the material in all its existing and future projects.

Lead Developer Ltd, a sister concern of Biswas Group Ltd, has been using hollow block. Shawkat Ali, managing director of the company, said the country has a target to bring topsoil use for brick kilns at zero level by 2020 to save farmland.

"The government has set the target, so we need substitutes of bricks. We've made cost-benefit analysis, and found hollow block much cheaper and environment-friendly."

He said all of their projects, both in urban and rural areas, are now using the block.

The country has a demand for more than 23.0 billion bricks every year, and the new block is expected to grab a large share in the local brick market replacing the traditional brick, he added.

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