Bricks made using sawdust have become the first of their kind in Australia to be recognised as carbon neutral, the organisation behind the products says.

In its latest announcement, building materials manufacturer Brickworks says bricks manufactured under its Daniel Robertson and Australia Bricks brands produced at its Longford plant near Launceston in Tasmania have become the first ever to be recognised by the Australian Government’s Department of the Environment as being carbon neutral under the National Carbon Offset Standard.

In a statement, the company says the certification is largely the result of using of sawdust rather than fossil fuel for kiln firing at the plant – reducing the 8,607 tonnes of carbon dioxide the plant would have otherwise emitted each year in producing the same capacity using fossil fuels to just 215 tonnes (about the same as twelve Australian households), the company then achieving the remainder of the carbon neutral certification by purchasing carbon offsets.

Sawdust is a biomass (biological material derived from living or recently deceased organisms) and by-product of the local timber industry.

In a statement, Brickworks said ideas about clay bricks being environmentally compromised because of the relatively high natural gas consumption required in kiln firing were simplistic and largely ignored their long life, role as thermal mass in energy-efficient design and recyclability as well as the fact they do not require resource-hungry finishes such as paint or render.

Company Managing Director Lindsay Partridge welcomed the achievement of the certification.

“This certification is an Australian first and another step in Brickworks Building Products’ journey towards becoming Australia’s most sustainable building materials company” Partridge said.

The company said its carbon offset required to achieve the carbon neutral status are purchased largely via a contribution to the local Forests Alive program in Tasmania and went toward programs such as tree planting and habitat protection for animals such as the spotted quoll, wedge-tail eagle and Tasmanian Devil.