Masonry or blockwork is a very common way of creating structural and retaining walls. The New Zealand Concrete Masonry Manual describes it best: Blockwork masonry units are hollow and are filled with concrete and allow for the integration of reinforcing steel, a feature essential for earthquake resistant design' (Page 1, 2011, (7)).
At this point, we do want to make it clear that we do out of environmental reasons have a bias against concrete masonry walls at present. The University of Bath in the UK established a list that shows the CO2 emissions of building products and concrete/cement does not do well at present. While concrete sometimes appears unavoidable, we believe the use of masonry does not belong in that category as of 2019. A copy of the report is available below...
Advantages of Concrete Masonry walls:
Low maintenance and high life expectancy
Good thermal mass, storing heat gained during the day and releasing it later
High resistance to fire
Disadvantages of Concrete Masonry walls:
High release of CO2 during its manufacture
High cost to break down and potential landfill of non-biodegradable material
(7) New Zealand Concrete Masonry, New Zealand Concrete Masonry Manual, Page 1, 2011
(8) University of Bath, 'Inventory of Carbon and Energy (ICE) Version 2.0, Authors: Proff. Geoff Hammond and Craig Jones, January 2011