Skip to main content

Transforming waste disposals into building materials to investigate energy savings and carbon emission mitigation potential


This work aims to enhance the energy cost-saving potential of conventional mud-brick by including natural waste materials as insulators. The solid waste materials considered for mud bricks are rice husk, sawdust, coir pith, and fly ash. This work investigates the structural and thermoeconomic performance of four types of insulated mud bricks and three roofs of ferrocement, clay, and ceramic materials. The thermal properties of walls and roofs were measured as per ASTM D 5334 standards. The utilization of solid waste in mud bricks enhanced the structural properties and air-conditioning cost-saving potential of the mud bricks. The results also showed the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions with the usage of insulated bricks for buildings. The rice husk mud-brick wall showed better results of higher time lag, lower decrement factor, higher air-conditioning cost-savings, acceptable payback periods, and higher annual carbon mitigation values of 11.11 h, 0.24, 1.74 $/m2, 1.17 years, and 33.35 kg/kWh, respectively, among all the studied multilayer walls. Among the roofs, clay tile roof showed a lower decrement factor (0.989), higher time lag (0.73 h), higher air-conditioning cost-savings (2.58 $/m2), lower payback periods (0.61 years), and higher annual carbon mitigation (21.73 kg/kWh). The results are in designing eco-friendly and energy-efficient envelopes for buildings.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11

Data availability

Not applicable


Cp :

specific heat (J/kg K)

Cs :

total air-conditioning cost saving ($/m2)

k :

thermal conductivity (W/mK)

U :

transmittance (W/m2K)

Z :

admittance (W/m2K)


coefficient of variance


coir pith mud-brick wall


fly ash mud-brick wall


heating carbon mitigation (kg/kWh)


heating cost-saving ($/m2)


heating degree-days (°C-days)


mud-brick wall without insulator


multilayer coir pith mud-brick wall


multilayer fly ash brick wall


multilayer rice husk mud-brick wall


multilayer sawdust mud-brick wall


payback period (years)


cooling carbon mitigation


cooling cost-saving ($/m2)


cooling degree-days (°C-days)


ceramic tile roof


clay tile roof


carbon mitigation (kg/kWh)


rice husk mud-brick wall


standard deviation


sawdust mud-brick wall


total carbon mitigation (kg/kWh)

α :

thermal diffusivity (m2/s)

μ :

decrement factor (-)

ρ :

density (kg/m3)

Φ :

time lag (h)


  1. Al-Fakih A, Mohammed BS, Liew MS, Nikbakht E (2019) Incorporation of waste materials in the manufacture of masonry bricks: An update review. J Build Eng 21:37–54.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Asan H (2006) Numerical computation of time lags and decrement factors for different building materials. Build Environ 41:615–620.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. ASHRAE (2009) Climatic design information. ASHRAE Fundam Handbook,CHAPTER 14 Clim Des Inf Clim 128.

  4. ASTM:C618-12a (2010) Standard specification for coal fly ash and raw or calcined natural pozzolan for use. 3–6. 10.1520/C0618-19.2

  5. ASTM:C1167-11 (2017) Standard specification for clay roof tiles. 11:1–7. 10.1520/C1167-11R17.Copyright

  6. ASTM:D5334-14 (2016) Standard test method for determination of thermal conductivity of soil and soft rock by Thermal needle probe procedure. 04:6–13. 10.1520/D5334-0814.2

  7. Balaji NC, Mani M, Venkatarama Reddy BV (2019) Dynamic thermal performance of conventional and alternative building wall envelopes. J Build Eng 21:373–395.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Brasileiro GAM, Vieira JAR, Barreto LS (2013) Use of coir pith particles in composites with Portland cement. J Environ Manage 131:228–238.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Chel A, Tiwari GN (2009) Performance evaluation and life cycle cost analysis of earth to air heat exchanger integrated with adobe building for New Delhi composite climate. Energy Build 41:56–66.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Chel A, Tiwari GN (2009) Thermal performance and embodied energy analysis of a passive house - case study of vault roof mud-house in India. Appl Energy 86:1956–1969.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Chen S, Yang Y, Olomi C, Zhu L (2020) Numerical study on the winter thermal performance and energy saving potential of thermo-activated PCM composite wall in existing buildings. Build Simul 237–256

  12. Chiang K, Yen H, Lu C (2019) Recycled gypsum board acted as a mineral swelling agent for improving thermal conductivity characteristics in manufacturing of green lightweight building brick. Environ Sci Pollut Res 34205–34219

  13. CIBSE (2006) CIBSE Environmental Design Guide A. The Chartered Institution of; Building Services Engineers London

  14. Collet F, Serres L, Miriel J, Bart M (2006) Study of thermal behaviour of clay wall facing south. Build Environ 41:307–315.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Dalkılıç N, Nabikoğlu A (2017) Traditional manufacturing of clay brick used in the historical buildings of Diyarbakir (Turkey). Front Archit Res 6:346–359.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Daouas N (2011) A study on optimum insulation thickness in walls and energy savings in Tunisian buildings based on analytical calculation of cooling and heating transmission loads. Appl Energy 88:156–164.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Davies M (2004) Building Heat Transfer. John Wiley & Sons Ltd,

  18. De Silva GHMJS, Perera BVA (2018) Effect of waste rice husk ash (RHA) on structural, thermal and acoustic properties of fired clay bricks. J Build Eng 18:252–259.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. De Silva GHMJS, Surangi MLC (2017) Effect of waste rice husk ash on structural, thermal and run-off properties of clay roof tiles. Constr Build Mater 154:251–257.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Demirboǧa R (2003) Influence of mineral admixtures on thermal conductivity and compressive strength of mortar. Energy Build 35:189–192.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. ECBC (2017) Energy Conservation Building Code. Bureau of Energy Efficiency, New Delhi

    Google Scholar 

  22. El Fgaier F, Lafhaj Z, Brachelet F et al (2015) Thermal performance of unfired clay bricks used in construction in the north of France: case study. Case Stud Constr Mater 3:102–111.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Eliche-Quesada D, Felipe-Sesé MA, López-Pérez JA, Infantes-Molina A (2017) Characterization and evaluation of rice husk ash and wood ash in sustainable clay matrix bricks. Ceram Int 43:463–475.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Forget MCL, Regev L, Friesem DE, Shahack-Gross R (2015) Physical and mineralogical properties of experimentally heated chaff-tempered mud bricks: implications for reconstruction of environmental factors influencing the appearance of mud bricks in archaeological conflagration events. J Archaeol Sci Reports 2:80–93.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Gourav K, Balaji NC, Venkatarama Reddy BV, Mani M (2017) Studies into structural and thermal properties of building envelope materials. Energy Procedia 122:104–108.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. GRIHA (2011) Technical manual for trainers on building and system design optimization renewable energy application. TERI, India

    Google Scholar 

  27. Haque S (2019) Sustainable use of plastic brick from waste PET plastic bottle as building block in Rohingya refugee camp : a review. Environ Sci Pollut Res 26:36163–36183

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Hemalatha T, Ramaswamy A (2017) A review on fly ash characteristics – towards promoting high volume utilization in developing sustainable concrete. J Clean Prod 147:546–559.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Holman JP (2012) Experimental methods for engineers. McGraw-Hill Companies

    Google Scholar 

  30. IS:1077 (1992) Common burnt clay building bricks - specification

  31. IS:1528 (2007) Methods of sampling and physical tests for refractory materials

  32. IS:13356 (1992) Precast ferrocement water tanks upto 10000litres capacity- specification

  33. IS:1727 (1967) Methods of test for pozzolanic materials

  34. IS:2185 (2005) Concrete masonry units — specification, Part 1 hollow and solid concrete blocks

  35. IS:3495 (2019) Methods of tests of burnt clay building bricks

  36. IS:654 (1992) Clay roofing tiles, mangalore pattern-specification

  37. Jin X, Zhang X, Cao Y, Wang G (2012) Thermal performance evaluation of the wall using heat flux time lag and decrement factor. Energy Build 47:369–374.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Kumar D, Zou PXW, Memon RA, Alam MDM, Sanjayan JG, Kumar S (2020) Life-cycle cost analysis of building wall and insulation materials. J Build Phys 43:428–455.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Kumar K, Saboor S, Kumar V et al (2018) Experimental and theoretical studies of various solar control window glasses for the reduction of cooling and heating loads in buildings across different climatic regions. Energy Build 173:326–336.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Leo Samuel DG, Dharmasastha K, Shiva Nagendra SM, Maiya MP (2017) Thermal comfort in traditional buildings composed of local and modern construction materials. Int J Sustain Built Environ 6:463–475.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Lertsatitthanakorn C, Atthajariyakul S, Soponronnarit S (2009) Techno-economical evaluation of a rice husk ash (RHA) based sand-cement block for reducing solar conduction heat gain to a building. Constr Build Mater 23:364–369.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Madrid M, Orbe A, Carré H, García Y (2018) Thermal performance of sawdust and lime-mud concrete masonry units. Constr Build Mater 169:113–123.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Madurwar MV, Ralegaonkar RV, Mandavgane SA (2013) Application of agro-waste for sustainable construction materials: a review. Constr Build Mater 38:872–878.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Nematchoua MK, Raminosoa CRR, Mamiharijaona R, René T, Orosa JA, Elvis W, Meukam P (2015) Study of the economical and optimum thermal insulation thickness for buildings in a wet and hot tropical climate: case of Cameroon. Renew Sustain Energy Rev 50:1192–1202.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Oskouei AV, Afzali M, Madadipour M (2017) Experimental investigation on mud bricks reinforced with natural additives under compressive and tensile tests. Constr Build Mater 142:137–147.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Pappu A, Saxena M, Asolekar SR (2007) Solid wastes generation in India and their recycling potential in building materials. Build Environ 42:2311–2320.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Petersdorff C, Boermans T, Harnisch J (2006) Mitigation of CO 2 emissions from the EU-15 building stock beyond the EU Directive on the energy performance of buildings. Environ Sci Pollut Res 13:350–358

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Sasui S, Warcharin J (2016) Comparing the effects of straw and rice husk on the durability of mud brick. In proceedings of 5th International Conference on Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development, 159-166.

  49. Shafigh P, Asadi I, Mahyuddin NB (2018) Concrete as a thermal mass material for building applications - a review. J Build Eng 19:14–25.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Shaik S, Talanki ABPS (2016) Optimizing the position of insulating materials in flat roofs exposed to sunshine to gain minimum heat into buildings under periodic heat transfer conditions. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23:9334–9344.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Shaik S, Talanki Puttaranga Setty AB (2016) Influence of ambient air relative humidity and temperature on thermal properties and unsteady thermal response characteristics of laterite wall houses. Build Environ 99:170–183.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Shi Y, Li Y, Tang Y, Yuan X (2020) Life cycle assessment of autoclaved aerated fly ash and concrete block production : a case study in China. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25432–25444

  53. Shibib KS, Qatta HI, Hamza MS (2013) Enhancement in thermal and mechanical properties of bricks. Therm Sci 17:1119–1123.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Turgut P, Murat Algin H (2007) Limestone dust and wood sawdust as brick material. Build Environ 42:3399–3403.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Ulgen K (2002) Experimental and theoretical investigation of effects of wall’s thermophysical properties on time lag and decrement factor. Energy Build 34:273–278.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Vijaykumar KCK, Srinivasan PSS, Dhandapani S (2007) A performance of hollow clay tile (HCT) laid reinforced cement concrete (RCC) roof for tropical summer climates. Energy Build 39:886–892.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Yu J, Yang C, Tian L, Liao D (2009) A study on optimum insulation thicknesses of external walls in hot summer and cold winter zone of China. Appl Energy 86:2520–2529.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Zhang L (2013) Production of bricks from waste materials - a review. Constr Build Mater 47:643–655.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Zhang Z, Wong YC, Arulrajah A, Horpibulsuk S (2018) A review of studies on bricks using alternative materials and approaches. Constr Build Mater 188:1101–1118.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information




Formal analysis and Investigation: Chelliah Arumugam. Writing—original draft preparation: Chelliah Arumugam. Conceptualization: Saboor Shaik. Methodology: Saboor Shaik. Resources: Saboor Shaik. Supervision: Saboor Shaik. Writing—review and editing: Saboor Shaik.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Saboor Shaik.

Ethics declarations

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Not applicable

Consent to Publish

Not applicable

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Responsible Editor: Philipp Gariguess

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Arumugam, C., Shaik, S. Transforming waste disposals into building materials to investigate energy savings and carbon emission mitigation potential. Environ Sci Pollut Res 28, 15259–15273 (2021).

Download citation


  • Energy-saving building materials
  • Mud bricks with waste residues
  • Thermoeconomic analysis
  • Carbon emission mitigation
  • Time lag