Bricks are a quintessential building material. Often made entirely from clay, brickmaking can deplete clay soil, leading to negative environmental impacts. Several studies have explored replacing a portion of the clay in bricks with a variety of organic and inorganic wastes including wood sawdust. Studies related to the addition of sawdust have focused primarily on the chemical composition and mechanical properties, different sawdust ratios, and thermal conductivity. There has been little in-depth focus on sawdust addition to the bricks’ structural and thermal properties. Researchers Aimen H. Abo Alela, Bahaa Elboshy, Ahmed M. Seddik Hassan, Ayman S. Mohamed, and Eman N. Shaqour wanted to address this gap.

Their study for the Journal of Architectural Engineering, “Effect of the Addition of Sawdust on Clay Brick Construction Properties and Thermal Insulation: Experimental and Simulation Approaches,” used the same production method as traditional brick factories to ensure comparable results, with the addition of varying ratios of sawdust (0%, 1%, 2%, 4%, 8% and 10%). The authors also employed the hot disk, a highly reliable device for measuring thermal conductivity, to enhance the accuracy of the thermal property measurements. Determining the bricks’ physical and thermal properties was a priority along with ensuring the construction properties of the bricks were suitable for building. The simulation performed using the new bricks shows promise for reducing energy consumption and the adverse environmental impact associated with brick production and construction of brick structures, but additional research could explore durability and weather resistance. The full paper is available at The abstract is below.


The construction industry plays a significant role in shaping our environment and economy. However, it also substantially impacts the environment, including the depletion of natural resources, increased energy consumption, and waste generation. The green building trend has recently gained significant attention in recent years to mitigate the negative impacts of the building industry, focusing on sustainable materials and practices. One of the primary materials used in this field is clay brick, which leads to soil depletion over time. In this context, this study explores the potential of sawdust waste as a partial replacement for clay in brick production, aiming to reduce the depletion of natural resources while enhancing the properties and performance of the produced bricks. The study consists of two main phases: experimental and simulation. In the experimental phase, clay brick samples were produced by adding sawdust at different ratios (1%, 2%, 4%, 8%, and 10% of the raw weight), and various physical and mechanical properties of the produced samples were tested to ensure their suitability for construction use. Also, the thermal properties of the proposed brick were measured to investigate the effect of sawdust addition on brick thermal insulation. Consequently, thermal conductivity and specific heat were measured. In the simulation phase, DesignBuilder software (version 7.0.2) was used to investigate the impact of the proposed material on building envelope’s performance and heat gain reduction. All experimental and simulation results were compared with the traditional clay brick measurements, which reveal a significant improvement in brick properties and performance with an increase in comprehensive strength of up to 192.3% and a reduction in energy consumption reaching 11.27%. The study results showed significant improvement in the properties and performance of the produced bricks, indicating the potential of using sawdust waste as a sustainable material for green buildings.

Learn more about how a percentage of sawdust in clay brick makes it stronger and more sustainable in the ASCE Library: