When we came up with the concept for Bee Brick we knew we were on to something that could be used by all new developments in the UK, creating mass habitat change for solitary bees. We wanted to use a material that the construction industry would be happy to implement and that wouldn't be a barrier to uptake and, also, more importantly, a material that was proven to work as a nesting site for bees. Concrete. However, concrete is not an 'eco' material and does have harmful environmental impacts, though there is a lot of work being done to reduce these impacts. In order to maximise uptake, we wanted a mainstream material that the construction industry would understand and trust, which is why we have chosen to use concrete. However, we wanted to make our concrete as environmentally friendly as possible until alternatives become more acceptably mainstream.
In parts of Cornwall, the landscape is dominated by 'the Cornish Alps', the waste heaps from the Cornish China clay industry. In the early 19th century this was the main industry in Cornwall, with the county producing around 50% of the world's china clay. For every tonne of usable china clay mined there were at least 5 tonnes of waste material brought with it.
It is this waste material that we use at Green&Blue to create our concrete habitat products, designed for birds and bees. We use 75% of this in our concrete mix, meaning that we are turning a china clay waste product into a new habitat for wildlife, something we're kind of proud of!
One day we're confident there will be some readily accepted alternatives to concrete within the construction industry and we will be keeping a close eye on developments, but until that time we are proud to be making each Bee Brick and Block a little bit better by repurposing waste.
If you've not watched our beautiful 'design the way nature intended' film then do take a look, we spent a day filming at the quarry where we get our waste material and there are some amazing shots from there - the sheer vastness of the landscape will take your breath away!