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Asian Architecture [ARC 2213/2234]

PROJECT 1: CASE STUDY

A comparative study of the sustainability of the materials


used in Phase 1 and Phase 2 at Belum Rainforest Resort.

Name:

Feiven Chee

Student ID:

0312004

Lecturer:

Ms Shahrianne

Submission Date:

12th June 2014

Table of Contents
Abstract ............................................................................................................................................................................... 3
1.0

Introduction ....................................................................................................................................................... 5

2.0

Overview of sustainability of materials .............................................................................................. 6

2.1

Efficiency of material ................................................................................................................................... 6

2.2

Operations and maintenance ................................................................................................................... 7

2.3

Waste reduction............................................................................................................................................. 7

2.4

Embodied Energy and Life Cycle Assessments (L.C.A.) ................................................................. 8

3.0

Overview of Belum Rainforest Resort .............................................................................................. 10

4.0

Analysis of the major building materials used at Belum Rainforest Resort ............... 11

4.1 Timber.................................................................................................................................................................... 11
4.2 Bamboo.................................................................................................................................................................. 13
4.3 Brick ........................................................................................................................................................................ 15
4.4 Concrete ................................................................................................................................................................ 17
4.5 Steel......................................................................................................................................................................... 19
4.6 SHERA plank........................................................................................................................................................ 21
5.0 Discussion ............................................................................................................................................................... 22
6.0 New materials as suggestions for improvement ............................................................................... 24
7.0 Conclusion............................................................................................................................................................... 26
References ...................................................................................................................................................................... 27

A comparative study of the sustainability of the materials used in Phase 1 and Phase 2 at Belum Rainforest Resort

Abstract
Materials are one of the most important factors which contributes to the sustainability of
a building. Rainforest Resort was designed and constructed in two phases by different architects
and because of this the material palette used vary considerably. The purpose of this research is
to highlight the different materials used between the two phases and how they contribute to the
sustainability of the architecture. To validate the investigation, a site visit was carried out where
we had the chance to have a conversation with the architect. From this, a first-hand experience
and photographs of the materials were collected. Furthermore, literary reviews of embodied
energy, materials properties and their impact were used. Being an architecture student studying
in Malaysia, it is important to realize the potential and drawbacks of materials in a regional
context which would ultimately enlighten and help with personal design projects.
There are a variety of materials used within the project: timber, brick, rammed earth wall,
steel, bamboo, concrete and Shera. The main material used in Phase 1 of Belum Rainforest Resort
is timber whereas concrete is heavily used in Phase 2 of Belum Rainforest Resort. Timber is more
sustainable in terms of the production process as it does not require much refinement before it
can be used in construction. However, timber needs to be coated and protected for it to serve a
longer life and be able to be recycled at the end of its usage. Overall, its properties makes it less
sustainable due to higher maintenance requirements once it is built. On the other hand, concrete
is less sustainable in its production due to its constituents: in particular the Portland cement.
However, in application it requires less maintenance, durable and long-lasting. Eventually, it can
also be recycled. In terms of sustainability, the ease and implications of demolition is an important
aspect not to be overlooked. In addition to existing known materials, there are always new
materials being designed to be more sustainable such as Enviroboards, Filterpave and Vireo
which are essentially modifications of timber and concrete.

Asian Architecture [ARC 2213/2234]

A comparative study of the sustainability of the materials used in Phase 1 and Phase 2 at Belum Rainforest Resort

In conclusion, an architect must be familiar and know about materials in depth, especially
how each material is unique in its contribution a more sustainable future. We must also keep up
to date with new and more technologically advanced material as we divert away from nonrenewable materials. Architects will always be held responsible for the implications of their
buildings and thus must seek to design sustainably.

Asian Architecture [ARC 2213/2234]

A comparative study of the sustainability of the materials used in Phase 1 and Phase 2 at Belum Rainforest Resort

1.0

Introduction

Most of the time, sustainable architecture or green designs rely on materials that are
categorized as rapidly renewable materials or those which have a short harvest cycle. Plants such
as palm and bamboo are assumed to be sustainable due to their beauty and longevity property.
However, taking this into consideration, it is important to find out what actually defines a
sustainable material and its implications in the implementation of sustainable architecture. To
further understand the relationship between building materials and their environmental impacts
so as to achieve sustainability, my research title is A comparative study of the sustainability of
the materials used in Phase 1 and Phase 2 at Belum Rainforest Resort. Taking Belum Rainforest
Resort as a case study, my research will focus on the sustainability of the building materials used
based on the following research questions:
1. What makes a material sustainable?
2. What are the materials used in Phase 1 and Phase 2?
3. How does the placement of materials contribute towards the sustainability of Belum
Rainforest Resort?
4. How effective are the materials used in terms of sustainability in Phase 1 and Phase 2?
5. What improvement could be done in terms of the selection and modification of the
materials in Belum Rainforest Resort to becoming more sustainable?
The research will be approached in two different parts. First, a thorough investigation into the
properties of materials which contribute towards its sustainability will be carried out. Following
this will be an analysis of the case study and the implications of the chosen building materials.
Using the literature review as well as case specific analysis, a conclusion will be reached regarding
the sustainability of Belum Rainforest Resort in terms of its material choice.

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A comparative study of the sustainability of the materials used in Phase 1 and Phase 2 at Belum Rainforest Resort

2.0

Overview of sustainability of materials


The choice of a material has a strong and direct impact on other aspects of the product in

other stages of the life cycle, such as the processing stage (e.g. impact on energy impact and
efficiency of production technology), use phase (e.g. durability during life span) and the end-oflife phase (e.g. possibility of recycling, biodegradation, or generation of electricity at the end of
the life span) (van der Lugt, Vogtlnder & Brezet, 2008, p9).
Thus, building materials are closely linked to every stage in a life cycle of a building. The
consumption of energy in the production and implementation of building materials has a direct
impact on the environment. The extraction of building materials, through the processing,
manufacturing stage, to transporting building materials are all detrimental to the natural
environment to some extent.

2.1

Efficiency of material
Most of the time, a building materials performance depends on its properties. Having the

ability to identify the physical, chemical, and mechanical properties of a material is indeed a good
beginning to consider when selecting sustainable building materials.
The fundamental idea behind a sustainable material is that the consumption rate is slower
than the reproduction, replenishment or replacement rate. Rapidly renewable building materials
are becoming one of the most popular features in sustainable architecture. A good example of this
is bamboo. It grows quickly - by the time the products made with it need to be replaced, more
than enough bamboo to provide the resource can be grown. Stone, on the other hand, is not
particularly efficient although it is a green building material millions of years are needed for it
to naturally be produced.

Asian Architecture [ARC 2213/2234]

A comparative study of the sustainability of the materials used in Phase 1 and Phase 2 at Belum Rainforest Resort

Physical properties such as durability is also recognized as one of the important factors
in material selection to create a sustainable buildingthe longer a building can sustain, the less
materials will be used in constructing a new building, and ultimately the less energy it will
consume.
Other materials properties such as tensile and compressive strength, corrosion and
resistivity should be taken into account to ensure that the buildings materials fulfil the
sustainable requirements that are able to justify the sustainability of a building.

2.2

Operations and maintenance


When creating sustainable structure, it is important to focus on the effects the buildings

have on human health as well as output energy conservation. Operation and maintenance (O&M)
phase is where green practices such as recycling and air quality enhancement take place, although
environmental impacts can be reduced during the construction and demolition phases of a
buildings life-cycle. A building may have been built in a very sustainable manner in terms of
material selection and construction, proper operation and appropriate maintenance are also
significant to retain sustainability in a building.

2.3

Waste reduction
Buildings are typically demolished when they reach the end of their service life. However,

the so called waste should be collected during deconstruction of a building to reclaim into useful
building materials. In this case, the recyclability and reusability of building materials become
important considerations in sustainable architecture (Kim & Rigdon, 1998, pp. 26-27). Waste
demolition or deconstruction waste can also be eliminated by repurposing a building. Durability

Asian Architecture [ARC 2213/2234]

A comparative study of the sustainability of the materials used in Phase 1 and Phase 2 at Belum Rainforest Resort

of the building material plays a key role to prolong the useful life of a building so as to allow
adaptive reuse, which means reusing an old site or building for a new function replacing the
former purpose which it was built for.

2.4

Embodied Energy and Life Cycle Assessments (L.C.A.)


For the past several decades, the study of embodied energy has been carried out in order

to find out the relationship between building materials and their environmental impacts.
Treloar (1994) defines embodied energy as the quantity of energy required by all of the
activities associated with a production process, including the relative proportions consumed in
all activities upstream to the acquisition of natural resources and the share of energy used in
making equipment and in other supporting functions i.e.direct energy plus indirect energy.
Basically, this means all the direct energy required to produce a material, from extraction
of the material, to the processing, manufacture, and delivery of building material to the building
site. In addition to that, it also includes all the energy required to make the equipments and other
materials needed to manufacture a material, which is called the indirect energy.
Energy consumption during manufacture produces carbon dioxide (CO2), which
contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. For most building materials, the major environmental
impacts occur during the initial processes; therefore, embodied energy can be used as an
indicator of the overall environmental impact of building materials and systems.
Even so, in many situations, a higher embodied energy building material may be justified
because the operating energy of the building can be reduced to negate its initial energy consumed
in the processing stage. For example, in spite of its high embodied energy, aluminium may be a

Asian Architecture [ARC 2213/2234]

A comparative study of the sustainability of the materials used in Phase 1 and Phase 2 at Belum Rainforest Resort

suitable material selection due to its durability and superior life span. This exemplifies that
embodied energy must be taken into consideration with the aspect of the lifespan of a building.
On the other hand, life cycle assessment, as stated by The International Organization for
Standardization (ISO), is the compilation and evaluation of the inputs, outputs and the potential
environmental impacts of a product system throughout its life cycle. (ISO 14040: 1997)
Life cycle of a building can be categorized into 3 phases: pre-building phase, building
phase and post-building phase (Kim & Rigdon, 1998, pp 7 - 11). The contribution of selected
materials towards the sustainability in a building can be analysed in accordance with these three
phases.

Diagram 1 3 major stages of a materials life cycle.

In short, life cycle assessment (L.C.A) is a technique to evaluate environmental impacts


over all the cradle-to-grave stages of a material or products life, i.e. from raw material mining
through materials processing, manufacture, distribution, use, maintenance, to disposal or
recycling while embodied energy only refers to all the energy invested in a material (Treloar,
1998, p. 1418).

Asian Architecture [ARC 2213/2234]

A comparative study of the sustainability of the materials used in Phase 1 and Phase 2 at Belum Rainforest Resort

3.0

Overview of Belum Rainforest Resort


Belum Rainforest Resort is located at Pulau Banding, an island in Tasik Temenggor. In

close proximity to it is the Royal Belum Forest, which is 130 million years old, and the hydroelectric Temenggor Dam, which is what caused the lake. Being located at an environmentally
sensitive area, the resort was conceived as a sustainable development with the aim of providing
convenience as well as an educational experience of nature and green issues (Lina Ooi, n.d.)
The project is clearly separated into two distinct zones referred to as Phase 1 and Phase
2. Although the design idea and objective behind the two phases are the same, different architects
were in charge of each phase and thus the philosophy in choice of building materials is distinct
from each other. Phase 1 was designed by C-Arch Studios whereas Phase 2 was designed by
Juteras Sdn Bhd.

Figure 1 The architects of Phase 1 predominantly uses

Figure 2 The main building materials in Phase 2 are

organic materials such as timber and bamboo.

more industrial such as concrete and steel.

Several issues relating to sustainability will need to be considered due to the case study
site. As it is located in a tropical rainforest, the design must address the high humidity and heat
issues through the choice of building materials. Furthermore, its rural and somewhat remote
context means that transportation and construction costs may make it less sustainable.

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A comparative study of the sustainability of the materials used in Phase 1 and Phase 2 at Belum Rainforest Resort

4.0

Analysis of the major building materials used at Belum


Rainforest Resort

4.1 Timber
Timber is considered one of the most available materials in tropical regions. At Belum
Rainforest Resort, timber's low thermal conductivity allows it to act as an insulator preventing
hot air from entering the building and thus results in thermal comfort for the occupants.
Compared to other major building materials such as concrete, timber is much lighter in weight
but yet has an impressive strength-to-weight ratio. Generally, timber is considered a high
performance building material due to its high versatile properties and minimal maintenance
requirement.

Figure 3 The Sidai restaurant at Phase 1 uses timber


cladding and windows.

Figure 4 The Traditional Chalets of


Phase 2 uses timber which acts as an
insulator providing thermal comfort for
its occupants.

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A comparative study of the sustainability of the materials used in Phase 1 and Phase 2 at Belum Rainforest Resort

Originally, raw logs harvested in the forest weigh about 1 tonne/m3 and consumed a
significant amount of energy for transportation. However, a large part of water content in logs is
then removed in the production process and transported again as light weight processed timber
(between 400-800 kg/m3). In comparison to the approximate 2500 kg/m3 weight of concrete,
processed timber is much lighter. Due to the local production of timber, there is an economic
incentive in using timber as it reduces the transportation costs. This, combined with its light
weight, has upshot environmental advantage as it tends to minimize transport impacts
(Buchanan, n.d. pp. 3-4).
Typically, in the life cycle of a building product, the conversion of raw resources into a
usable product consumes the most energy and creates the most pollution. However, unlike the
other products such as metal or concrete, timber only requires minor processing, which results
in fewer emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2). The by-products produced in the manufacturing stage
can be used for other purposes such as energy generation in bio-mass power plants, which can
be used to generate power for the site or the grid.
The reusability of timber usually depends on how well the timber has been maintained.
Compared to other major building materials such as steel and glass, timber can often be reused
without breakdown and complete remanufacture. In general, all timber products in addition to
solid timber such as fibreboard, plywood, particleboard etc. have very low embodied energy with
low greenhouse gas emissions, are recyclable, reusable, and produce little to no waste.

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A comparative study of the sustainability of the materials used in Phase 1 and Phase 2 at Belum Rainforest Resort

4.2 Bamboo
Bamboo has greater resistance to expansion and contraction associated with temperature
and humidity changes. Therefore, in addition to its aesthetic value, it is mainly used as shading
device at Belum Rainforest Resort. As shown in table 1, the embodied energy of bamboo shading
device is much lower than that of concrete, aluminium and even recycled aluminium (Nuanwan
& Wanarat, n.d. p11).

Table 1 Embodied energy analysis of bamboo, concrete, aluminium and recycled aluminium shading
devices.
(Nuanwan & Wanarat, n.d.)

Figure 5, 6 Bamboo is used as a dominant shading device at Phase 1.

Bamboo is considered to be one of the most sustainable building materials, mainly due to
its extremely rapid growth and regeneration. It has been found that average hardwood trees take
over 30 years or more to re-grow while bamboo takes as little as sixty days to mature to the equal
height and width of a tree. Bamboo not only consumes carbon dioxide at rapid rates while

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A comparative study of the sustainability of the materials used in Phase 1 and Phase 2 at Belum Rainforest Resort

growing, which subsequently reduces the major contributor to global warming, but at the same
time promotes more oxygen than an equivalent stand of trees into the environment (United
Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative, 2007, p2).
Hot and wet countries such as Malaysia have high humidity which ranges between 75% 85% throughout the year. In this warm and humid climate, buildings are prone to insect attack
and material rust or decay. Unfortunately, untreated bamboo swells when water is absorbed from
the humid air and causing it to crack. With an average service life of only 1 to 3 years, bamboo has
very low natural durability against the intense attack by insects and mould growth caused by
condensation. Therefore, it is necessary for bamboo to be chemically treated to provide
protection against fungal growth and insect damage influenced by the humid condition in tropical
region, so as to prolong its useful life in order to achieve sustainability.
The high tensile strength and excellent weight to strength ratio make bamboo a potential
sustainable building material. In economic terms, use of bamboo helps achieve cost effective
construction. This together with its resource availability, easy workability and high strength-toweight ratio, has made bamboo a more viable option as a construction material.

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A comparative study of the sustainability of the materials used in Phase 1 and Phase 2 at Belum Rainforest Resort

4.3 Brick
Bricks, specifically clay fired bricks, are used in Belum Rainforest Resort for their warmth
and distinctive appearance. Brick possess natural and pleasant colours of burnt clays that will not
fade even under extreme weather conditions, which contributes to the everlasting aesthetic
results in a building.

Figure 7 Brick wall acts as an envelope to provide thermal mass to insulate the
building.

However, the key factor in contributing to the sustainability of Belum Rainforest Resort
is its long term life performance. Due to its durability, brick minimises the need for exterior
upkeep and avoids the energy usage for maintenance and replacement. Brick with its high heat
capacity properties also acts as an energy-efficient envelope that provides thermal mass
necessary to insulate a building. It allows minimal usage of air conditioning and subsequently
reduces the amount of energy required to cool the interior. The outstanding fire resistance quality
of clay brick wall contributes to its maximum fire ratings among the major building materials. As
a result, the overall building performance due to its versatile, high thermal mass, superior loadbearing properties, low maintenance and potentially low energy impact, not only cut down the

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A comparative study of the sustainability of the materials used in Phase 1 and Phase 2 at Belum Rainforest Resort

operation cost for the building, but also make brick a good choice of a sustainable building and
construction material.
Brick measures high on the sustainability index for being made from abundant and locally
available raw material such as sand, water and clay. Besides, the set standard work sizes of brick
ease the transportation and prevent waste.
Still, sustainability is often traced back into a consideration of energy use defined as the
emission of carbon dioxide (CO2). Brick manufacturing in many Asian countries employs
traditional kilns, which are energy-inefficient and polluting (Food and Agriculture Organization
of the United Nations, 1993, p 10). Large amount of fuels which are usually coal, wood, crop
residues, natural gas or oil is used to maintain a high temperature from 1600 F to 2400 F during
the firing process (International Energy Initiative, Inc, 2003).
Unfired waste clay is reused in the manufacturing process and less than perfect fired
bricks are crushed and used as aggregates in other parts of the building industry. Therefore, very
little clay is wasted during the manufacturing of bricks. (Fadli & Sibley, 2009, p. 5)

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A comparative study of the sustainability of the materials used in Phase 1 and Phase 2 at Belum Rainforest Resort

4.4 Concrete
Compared to other organic building materials used, concrete is more advantaged by its
pest resistant and corrosion resistant properties. It is important in this humid area where
biological pests such as termite and fungi are regarded as threats for a material and subsequently
affects the sustainable value of a building.

Figure 8 Concrete is used at the

Figure 9 Villa Tanjung Wan also

Deluxe Suites of Phase 2.

adopts concrete as a main building


material left unfinished as the interior.

Walls and floors made of concrete are highly energy efficient due to the inherent thermal
mass of concrete, to be able to absorb and retain heat. Light-coloured concrete walls and
pavements also reflect solar radiation due to its reflectivity which significantly reduces air
conditioning demands especially in a tropical climate. This contributes not only towards
reduction in cost due to reduced energy usage, but most importantly the subsequent reductions
in the production of carbon dioxide (CO2).

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A comparative study of the sustainability of the materials used in Phase 1 and Phase 2 at Belum Rainforest Resort

Portland cement, the most important ingredient of concrete, is not an environmentally


friendly material. Portland cement is manufacture by heating a mixture of limestone and shale in
a kiln to a high temperature (approximately 1500C). Thus it has rather high embodied energy.
The reaction between limestone and shale during the manufacturing of cement produces carbon
dioxide (CO2), the fuel used in the kiln also produces gaseous waste such as carbon monoxide
(CO) and, which are contribute to global warming (Struble & Godfrey, n.d., p. 205).
Nevertheless, the subsequent savings due to the less energy used and the reduction of
carbon dioxide (CO2) in its operational stage negates the initial amount of carbon dioxide
produces in its manufacturing stage.
Concrete is recyclable. The waste produced from demolition of concrete structures can be
recycled and is commonly used as aggregate or rock in pavement base. However, recycled
concrete as aggregate will typically have higher absorption and lower specific gravity than
natural aggregate and will produce concrete with slightly higher drying shrinkage and creep.
These differences become greater with increasing amounts of recycled fine aggregates (MPA
The Concrete Centre, n.d.). Therefore, this should be taken into consideration in terms of the
reusability of concrete.

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A comparative study of the sustainability of the materials used in Phase 1 and Phase 2 at Belum Rainforest Resort

4.5 Steel
In Belum Rainforest Resort, particularly Phase 2, steel is the main material used for the
staircases. High ductility of steel enables it to undergo plastic deformation before failure, thus
providing large reserve strength. In other words, sudden failure can be prevented as it usually
shows large visible deflections before collapsing due to its energy-absorbing capacity, which is an
important characteristic to be considered for safety reason to prevent sudden failure.

Figure 10 and 11 Steels impressive strength to weight ratio allows


the staircase to be minimally invasive but in rain it is excessively
slippery bringing possible danger to its users. Though it is stainless
steel, it still requires general maintenance due to excess humidity.

Steel is susceptible to corrosion when exposed to humid air. Staircases are placed in close
proximity to the lake as well as the swimming pool. Such high humidity atmosphere increases the
speed of corrosion. To achieve maximum corrosion resistance for good performance and long life,
steel requires more frequent maintenance compared to the other sustainable materials
mentioned in the previous topics. Regular cleaning schedule must be carried out as well to make
sure steel is always kept clean to maintain its attractive clean surface appearance.

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A comparative study of the sustainability of the materials used in Phase 1 and Phase 2 at Belum Rainforest Resort

However, what makes steel stand out from the list of green materials is its infinite
recyclability. As stated by the American Institute of Steel Construction, 98% of all structural steel
is recycled back into new steel products at the end of a buildings life, with no loss of its physical
properties. As such, structural steel isnt just recycled but multi-cycled, as it can be recycled
countless times without any degradation in quality making it truly an effective material cradleto-cradle. It becomes a permanent resource for society once it is produced, makes it an extremely
resource-efficient building material due to its potentially endless life cycle (Eames, 2012, p 15).
Generally, steel is fabricated in off-site facilities and erected on-site, which results in
minimal waste produced at construction sites. Even if there is any waste produced, it is fully
recyclable. Through research, it has been found that steels nowadays are 24% lighter than they
were 30 years ago, thus is important to reduce energy usage in transportation and, therefore,
provide sustainability.

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A comparative study of the sustainability of the materials used in Phase 1 and Phase 2 at Belum Rainforest Resort

4.6 SHERA plank


According to The Mahaphant Fibre Cement Public Company Limited, one of the ASEANs
leading manufacturers of fibre cement product, SHERA plank is a unique fibre cement composite

of natural fibres bonded tightly in a high-grade silicate structure. This autoclaved wood-grain
siding acquires impressive toughness, yet remains flexible and dimensionally stable. It is a
cellulose cement plank that contains absolutely no asbestos fibre, no glass fibers nor
formaldehyde.
SHERA planks are widely used as the flooring of boardwalks in Phase 2, Belum Rainforest
Resort. It is a perfect solution for boardwalks in a tropical rainforest with high humidity and face
a constant rain and sunlight damage as well as termite and insect attack. It possesses excellent
properties of water or moisture resistance, pest resistance, and impact strength.

Figure 12, 13 Boardwalk in phase 2 uses SHERA that has the similar texture of timber cladding.

Comes with the texture of wood-cladding material, SHERA plank is able to meet the needs
of Belum Rainforest Resort to reflect the quality of the surrounding in terms of materiality in
tropical architecture. Yet, it is easy to install and requires very little maintenance (Mahaphant,
n.d.).

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A comparative study of the sustainability of the materials used in Phase 1 and Phase 2 at Belum Rainforest Resort

5.0 Discussion
Timber is considered a sustainable building material in Belum Rainforest Resort as timber
is a locally sourced material, the energy consumption for transport is kept low, which leads to
consequent environmental benefits. Because less energy is required for transportation,
lightweight building materials such as timber, often have lower embodied energy than heavy
weight materials such as concrete. Other than that, timber not only consumes less fabrication
energy during the construction stage but it also saves operational and maintenance energy. In
short, timber saves energy and cost in most of the aspects, which make it a persistent and
functional building material.
However, bamboo offers more potential as an alternative to timber due to its superior
physical and mechanical properties compared to most timber species. But a major disadvantage
of bamboo if it is used in a tropical climate is that it tends to rot quickly due to its vulnerability to
insect and fungal attack. Yet, in this case, this fast-growing building material is easy to work with
and is extremely inexpensive compared to common building materials. The excellent
renewability which potentially minimises environmental impact versus other resources indicate
that bamboo is a very green building material.
There is much more than merely being rapidly renewable to be sustainable. Brick in this
case, has relatively high embodied energy due to the energy consumption and greenhouse gases
emission during its process stage, but it is important to take into account of its superior durability
and overall life cycles performance. Clay fired brick are particularly suitable in tropical zone, not
only because it offers good thermal insulation, but it is also resistant to attack by microbes and
parasite. However, brick clay architecture involves labour-intensive handmade methods, which
is only feasible in rural areas and can no longer be used to meet the demand for dwellings in the
megacities (Lauber, n.d., p 122).

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A comparative study of the sustainability of the materials used in Phase 1 and Phase 2 at Belum Rainforest Resort

Steels outstanding recyclability makes it a sustainable building material of all time. But,
the corrosion of steel due to the high humidity in tropical zone is a major problem. Regular
maintenance and protective measures such as coating and painting become significant in order
to make it more sustainable in tropical architecture.
Concrete is a highly durable building material which provides high compressive strength,
fire resistance, weather resistance, termite resistance and corrosion resistance with minimal
maintenance requirements. Despite the high energy requirements in manufacturing process, the
inherent properties of concrete lead to lower operational energy, and in turn results in greater
whole-of-life sustainable value.

Figure 14 and 15 The building materials at Belum Rainforest Resort are harmonious and work well together to
achieve optimum sustainability.

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A comparative study of the sustainability of the materials used in Phase 1 and Phase 2 at Belum Rainforest Resort

6.0 New materials as suggestions for improvement


SHERA planks used as the boardwalk flooring in Phase 2 is an example of how new
materials being developed can be used in architecture in order to make the project more
sustainable. The building materials industry is constantly and rapidly evolving and developing
new products which are then made available for use. These materials are either made from waste
or modified from the natural material such as timber and concrete, but aim to be an improved
version in terms of its inherent characteristics.
STRUXURE, for example, is a composite product produced from 100% recycled material for
commercial boardwalks. It is developed so that it will not rust, splinter, crumble, rot, absorb moisture
or leach toxic chemicals into the environment and thus simply outperforms traditional materials.
STRUXURE products are not only highly cost-effective, but also extremely strong, durable, with
low maintenance requirements and longer life cycles which makes them a better choice of building
material to achieve higher sustainability (AXION International, Inc., n.d.).

Figure 16, 17 STRUXTURE has long life cycle and superior wear-and-tear properties which make it suitable for
boardwalk pathways.
(Axion International, n.d.)

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A comparative study of the sustainability of the materials used in Phase 1 and Phase 2 at Belum Rainforest Resort

Another example is ENVIRO BOARD. It is a low-cost, durable and environmentally friendly


building panel converted from agricultural waste fibre such as rice and wheat straw, elephant
grass as well as sugar cane. According to Enviro Board Corporation, using ENVIRO BOARD reduces
the installation time by 50% which subsequently leads to reduced construction cost. Besides, the
production only takes up 1% of energy compared to the energy consumed in the Gypsum board
production (Enviro Board Corporation, n.d.).

Figure 18 ENVIRO BOARD is a relatively cheap yet durable building material which is made
from agricultural waste.
(Enviro board, n.d.)

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A comparative study of the sustainability of the materials used in Phase 1 and Phase 2 at Belum Rainforest Resort

7.0 Conclusion
Ultimately, the choice of building materials is a significant and integral part of the design
process and to achieve sustainability. Essentially, the choice of building material should be
influenced by local availability, cost, durability and suitability to the local climate. Its embodied
energy is also an important factor. An architect has a social responsibility to be wise in selecting
building materials to not only meet environmental concerns but ultimately to meet and cater
human needs. From the research on the materials used at Belum Rainforest Resort, it is evident
that all materials have their advantages and disadvantages in the realm of sustainable
development. It is a fine balance and an architect must carefully consider and weigh out the
advantages of specific materials against its detrimental qualities. They must be fluent and
understand how traditional building materials can and should be used in specific cases. In
addition to this, architects should be informed and updated with new trends and developments
in building materials in order to ensure that their designs can be optimal.

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A comparative study of the sustainability of the materials used in Phase 1 and Phase 2 at Belum Rainforest Resort

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