In 2020, the CCAC supported the publication of the CAEM report A Validated Portfolio of Black Carbon Mitigation Measures for the Brick Industry in Colombia, a study that analyses the sources of air pollution, particularly black carbon. It also looked at the public health impacts of these emissions, and the economic impacts on the brick sector to help make the most competitive and effective mitigation decisions.
“These are artisanal brick kilns we’re talking about: very simple, just a pile of bricks that you put coal into and burn, so having an estimate of how much black carbon is emitted from these processes is important to see where we can modernize and try to improve these production processes to make them less harmful for the environment and to make them more efficient,” said Professor Boris Galvis, an expert on black carbon emissions and the brick kiln industry, from Colombia’s University of La Salle.
One emission reduction strategy is updating the artisanal kilns to more energy efficient ones equipped with a stack or additional chambers.
Currently, says Professor Galvis, a lot of black carbon measurements are approximations. Using methodologies like those developed in Colombia in other parts of the world, is an important intervention that can provide more precise black carbon emissions data.
Support for this work is important because the largely small-scale producers cannot do it on their own.
“Artisanal entrepreneurs don’t have the financial muscle to research and implement these changes so we’re helping them identify what a scalable conversion model could look like,” said Fabio Salgado, a Senior Program Specialist at CAEM. “It can help answer questions like, which energy efficiency measures can be implemented at a low cost, and which would improve the health and safety of their workers and make them more productive and more sustainable?”
Bringing the Sector Together
For the last 10 years Viviana Alvarez has run a small, family-owned brick kiln with 20 employees in La Tebaida in the department of Quindio. The kiln sells bricks to the central region of Colombia. She’s an entrepreneur who has been working with CAEM and CCAC.
“I want to make different and positive changes in the brick sector,” said Alvarez. “I want to help motivate other entrepreneurs to build a more sustainable industry that can continue functioning for a long time and benefit my employees and their families.”