Columbia Businesses Create "Green" Bricks

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COLUMBIA - Going "green" is easy for Ecologic Tech. Since the early 1990's, the company has worked on a process for developing eco-friendly bricks. Rather than using traditional materials like clay, Ecologic Tech uses fly ash which comes from coal-burning power plants. The company obtains the ash from coal plants all over the world, then uses it to produce its earth-friendly bricks.

Jesse VanEngelenhoven, Director of Research for Ecologic Tech, explains the bricks are sustainable for many reasons.

"First of all, (our bricks are) green because we're recycling something that's normally thrown away," VanEngelenhoven said. "Second, the amount of energy required to make our product is significantly loawer compared to clay and concrete products."

If not used, the fly ash is collected from the coal plants and builds up in landfills. On an annual basis, that adds up to almost 4.6 million tons. By using fly ash, Ecologic Tech is able to help lessen the amount of ash that ends up in landfills. Additionally, the bricks the company produces are about 20 percent cheaper to manufacture than clay bricks. The bricks require less energy usage during the manufacturing process because they don't require the heat energy needed to harden like traditional clay or cement bricks require, another plus.

Ecologic Tech hopes to expand and grow into the housing industry. VanEngelenhoven said the bricks would be a huge selling point because of their green qualities, and would appeal to builders looking to construct LEED Certified structures. He also said he believes many people looking to build a home would be attracted to the eco-friendly nature of the company's green brick.

Because of its innovation, Ecologic Tech is one of five finalists in the third annual Bricks Innovation Competition held by the Midwest Clean Tech Conference. The company will travel to Chicago on September 14 to present its green brick to investors, researchers, venture capitalists, and entreprenuers.

The business and research side of Ecologic Tech is managed in Columbia. The production of most bricks is in Wisconsin.