11 Sep 2020

Clay Drainage – A Truly Sustainable Solution for Self-builders


Across the entire construction industry, sustainability is a major consideration when it comes to new projects. Self-builders, contractors and developers need to be more aware than ever of the materials used on a project to help make sure it’s sustainable – particularly when it comes to recyclability and long-lasting solutions.


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Here, Joana Januseviciute, Product Manager for Clayware at Hepworth Clay, discusses the benefits of clay drainage systems, and how their inclusion in a project can contribute to an overall eco-friendly and sustainable build.

Recyclability and sustainability

When embarking upon a self-build project, there are a number of stages and aspects of the build you need to take into account. Drainage is a key part of this planning, and one of the most sustainable materials that can be used is also one of the most long-lasting – clay drainage.

Made from a 100% natural material, clay drainage is fully recyclable at the end of the project’s life – and the sustainability aspects aren’t limited to the finished clay product.

It’s an incredibly eco-friendly product to manufacture, and the entire production chain usually happens within a radius of just a few miles, because it’s often extracted locally. When it comes to considering sustainability in your self-build, it’s important to bear in mind that no matter how ‘green’ a project or site may be, if the raw materials have travelled great distances to create the specialist sustainable project – the benefits could be outweighed by the pre-manufacturing logistical environmental impact. The process is also highly sustainable in comparison to other solutions and ensures a low environmental and carbon impact. For example, clay drainage is usually manufactured using stored rainwater, and can even be fired using reclaimed heat, meaning little or no energy is needed.

The sustainability credentials don’t just stop at the manufacturing process either – the high strength of clay drainage products means the installation process can also be improved, requiring less granular bedding, allowing recycled aggregates (or natural dug materials) to be used with the system, leading to less waste and material removed from and delivered to a site. The cost savings can also be significant if this approach is taken, especially when compared to using a full depth of primary aggregate.

It’s also important to ensure that when clay is excavated, the local environmental impact of the manufacturing process is minimised – by restoring natural habitats in and around quarries once their resources have been utilised. This can easily be achieved by planting trees as part of a carbon offsetting programme.

Supreme durability and reliability

Clay drainage is not only eco-friendly but also a highly effective material when it comes to drainage applications. It’s remarkably durable and reliable, as clay is incredibly strong, with the piping boasting an average lifespan of 100+ years.

Clay drainage is quick and easy to lay with proven push-fit jointing and offers a ‘fit and forget’ performance, which can give extra peace of mind, especially to self-builders. The installed risk profile and service costs of clay are low, and the inert nature of the material means that it is impervious to chemical or physical attack. Therefore, it is unaffected by effluent that is approved for discharge into a public sewer and is also resistant to practically all chemicals and compounds that may be found in the ground; so, homeowners can rest assured with what they put down their drain.

If maintenance is required, due to its strength and robustness, clay drainage can withstand extremely high pressures when it comes to jetting to clean the inside of systems. At Hepworth Clay, our systems are guaranteed against high pressure jetting of up to 7500psi – allowing more blockages to be cleared first time without damaging the drainage system.

All of these factors give self-builders a level of reassurance that they’re investing in a high-quality, long-lasting solution that will eliminate repair or replacement costs down the line.

The future of clay piping

The beauty of self-building comes with the ability to comfortably choose your own design and materials. It’s important to consider every detail of the construction process and get to grips with the most sustainable and reliable solutions on the market, and drainage systems are no exception. Investing in a sustainable drainage solution that doesn’t compromise on practicality and effectiveness, ensures that self-builders have selected a system that is environmentally friendly, and guaranteed to last a lifetime.

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