Design Manual for Improved Fixed Chimney Zig-Zag Brick Kilns



The 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal on 25 April and its aftershocks have destroyed or damaged more than half a million buildings across the country, including more than 25,000 public buildings and a rich set of historical monuments and cultural icons. This has affected millions of people across at least 30 districts, and will require a major rebuilding effort. In this regard, the availability of construction materials is a major concern.

In the Kathmandu Valley, more than 100 brick kilns were damaged, with four deaths reported. Almost 90% of the valley’s brick production stopped after the earthquake. These brick kilns need to be rebuilt to meet the high demand for building materials during reconstruction.

As the regional partner for the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC)’s Brick Kiln Initiative, ICIMOD aims to achieve significant reductions of black carbon and other emissions from brick kilns, which are responsible for substantial air pollution in many cities of the world. ICIMOD, the Federation of Nepal Brick Industries (FNBI), MinErgy, and CHeRN took the initiative of consolidating the state of knowledge on science, technology, and existing construction practices within the brick kiln sector to support a strategic response to quickly turn damage from earthquake into a unique opportunity to create an improved structural design for rebuilding fixed chimney brick kilns. This new design will help save resources and reduce pollution. This initiative began in late May 2015 and included interactive workshops, cluster meetings, and feedback from valley entrepreneur associations for increased ownership of the design manual.

The outcome of this collaboration – comprising local brick experts and entrepreneurs, national engineers, scientists, and architects with external advisory reviews by international experts – is the first of its kind in South Asia. The resulting manual consists of an earthquake-resistant brick kiln design and drawings that take energy efficiency, environmental concerns, and other social aspects into account.

Technological developments during the last century have helped make brick manufacturing an efficient and highly productive process. Brick kiln modernization offers large potential for energy savings, reduction in black carbon and CO2 emissions, preventing the degradation of agricultural land, improving the profitability of brick enterprises, improving working conditions and the health of workers, and providing better quality building material to consumers. By rebuilding damaged and destroyed brick kilns after the earthquake with this studied design manual and helping to create a conducive environment, together we can introduce some of these developments and make the Kathmandu Valley a better place to live.