Evaluation of Concrete as a Sustainable Building Material

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Although concrete is one of the best building material in contemporary construction, the purpose of this study is to emphasize on the preference of concrete due to its tremendous sustainable effects and implication as a major building material among other materials in Belum Rain Forest Resort, Malaysia. As concrete plays a vital role in construction of important architecture components in Belum Rain Forest Resort, the unique sustainable features and benefits are being deliberated with its impression towards the surrounding natural context and by its viable characteristics. The environmental factors of concrete are also concentrated to identify its relationship towards sustainability. Literature review was accompanied to understand the sustainable potentiality of concrete and its role in green architecture industry. Moreover to emphasis on the wider aspects of this study, the major usage of concrete is identified in Modern modular suits and other neighbouring context in Belum Rain Forest resort that are conferred in explain the sustainability of concrete. It is very noticeable that concrete has very efficient thermal mass properties that reflects more solar radiation and also has the ability to sustain heat by supporting the local climate and to obtain its sustainability quality. In addition, the neighbouring buildings comprise of other materials, but have the evidence of concrete as a major construction material in important architectural components. Moreover usage of concrete drastically exhibits its sustainable properties by showing the structural stability, versatility, thermal comfort level etc. and environmentally being less contaminated towards the surrounding context. It is understood that by explaining the significance of concrete in these buildings, it leads to notify the enhanced sustainability of concrete with other building materials and by informing the role of its contribution in present and future sustainable buildings in Belum Rain forest resort. Thus, the concrete structures are prominently sustainable in Belum rain forest resort by expressing innumerable benefits to the user, surrounding and to the building itself.

1.0. Introduction

Sustainability is vital to the prosperity of our planet, proceeded development of a general public, and human advancement. By discussing sustainability in architecture, the materials used for the construction is a major contributor for the vitality of that building. However, concrete is considered as one of the best sustainable building material in present architecture. One of the great examples of using concrete as foremost building material to achieve sustainability is Belum rain forest resort. The modular suits/ rooms in Belum rainforest resort significantly adapt concrete as predominant material compared to other material. Of all the building in Belum rain forest resort the architecture components such as roof, floor slab, and walls of modular suits/room are completely built with concrete. This modular suits/ rooms are new addition to the resort which emphasizes deliberately in sustainability of the place by using concrete as a major material.

The sustainability of concrete is determined by analysing the properties of it which delivers redeeming sustainable benefits to the building and to the surrounding natural context. The properties and benefits of concrete is extensively visible in modular units thorough its versatility, strength and other unique features. The building is completely compatible with the user and to its environment.

This paper will focus on the influence of concrete as a sustainable material through its viable properties, paybacks and environmental impacts in Belum rain forest resort. More over the significance of concrete is also discussed as a sustainable building material with other building material by responding to the questions below:

  1. What are sustainable building materials? And why concrete is considered as one of the best sustainable building material for construction in relation to the surrounding context?
  2. Which properties of concrete make it a sustainable building material?
  3. What are the major benefits of concrete that affects the sustainability of the building?
  4. What are the environmental impacts that were taken under consideration in using concrete as a major material for sustainable architecture in Belum Rain forest Resort?
  5. How concrete can be compared to other building materials that could be useful in future for creating more sustainable architecture design in Belum rain forest resort?

2.0. Introduction to Sustainable Building material

The manuals of sustainable development network (2010) describes that Sustainable building materials by definition are materials that are by regionally created and sourced(which lessens transportation costs and Co2 emissions), they can incorporate recycled materials, they have a lower environmental effect, they are thermally effective, they require less energy than more cutting edge, conventional materials, they make utilization of renewable assets, they are lower in toxic outflows and they are financially viable. The sustainable materials such as Bamboo, timber and rammed earth are vastly used in the construction of Belum rain forest resort, but concrete acts as a flawless material for the new phase.

By using concrete it obtains its sustainable qualities by adapting the surrounding nature and gives compensations to the builders for its prominent users. The modular suits/ rooms (Figure 2.0.1) splendidly acquire these resourceful viable properties of concrete by exhibiting its benefits to the user. The cost and its adaptability would have impressed the architect to choose concrete to become the most important material in construction of Modular units/rooms in the new phase (figure 2.0.2). It’s very visible that the surrounding green eventually sneaks to the exterior concrete walls of Modular suits/ rooms by acclimating to the building. This sorts the building to be unified with nature and cares the surrounding environment. In addition, the immediate natural context to the concrete building would accompany to form a protective surrounding which enhances the sustainability of the dwelling.

Figure 2.0.1. Modular suits/rooms ( Source: K.Yashanth, Taylors University Lakeside campus, 2014)

Figure 2.0.2. Surrounding green adapting to the concrete(Source: K.Yashanth, Taylors University Lakeside campus, 2014)

3.0. Sustainable properties of concrete

The properties become the deciding factor of sustainability of concrete. The sustainable features of concrete enhance the building to become more energy efficient and durable. The strength and durability of concrete is indomitable by showing its structural stability in the slopes of Belum rain forest resort. Extreme crushing strength is a specific normal for concrete. In Concrete strength is picked as indicated and expected to utilize and could be shifted by changing the mix, especially the water-cement proportion (Graph 3.0.1). As knowledge and technology inflate, it is conceivable to expand the compressive quality of cement. There is no evidence of any moist, moulds or pest on the walls which weakens the building which enhances its durability towards the natural context.

Graph 3.0.1. Effect of water/cement on the compressive strength (Source: Paulo Monteiro, University of California)

According to wbcsd cement (2014) Concrete's excellent and demonstrated fire safety properties ensure human life, property and the earth in the event of fire. Regular illustrations and universal facts give sufficient confirmation of concrete's fire securing properties. This settles on concrete, the material of decision, progressively obliging its utilization over other development materials as concrete offers prevalent execution on all pertinent flame wellbeing criteria, effortlessly and monetarily.

The concrete is also extremely resistant to weather in which it’s well compatible with the Malaysian climate. Since Belum is considered as a rainforest resort this unique property of concrete was taken under consideration in using it as prominent material in the modular rain forest resort. As its ability to retain storm water becomes a rigid advantage that enhances concrete to become more suitable for the place. In Concrete surfaces have a tendency to be impenetrable and can square natural water penetration into the soil. This makes an imbalance in the characteristic biological system and prompts issues, for example, erosion, flash floods, water table depletion, and contamination (Concrete network, 2013). This can be avoiding by its sponge like network of voids that water passes through readily.

The low carbon emission of concrete which enhances the less carbon foot prints towards the surrounding nature and to the users. This less emission property of carbon intensifies concrete more energy efficient in exhibiting more green characteristics to the surrounding (figure 3.0.1). It plays a major role in green house reduction by using it more in modular suits/rooms.

Figure 3.0.1. Low Co2 emission Bar chart (Source: Environmental leader, 2013)

At Next the Thermal mass property of concrete is superlative compared to other building materials. Concrete centre (2012) states that Thermal mass is a term that portrays the capacity of a material to store heat; something numerous building materials can do to a more prominent or lesser degree. At the same time, to be valuable in the natural context, concrete in the modular suits/ rooms has the capacity to ingest and discharge heat at a rate harshly in venture with a building's every day heating and cooling cycle (figure 3.0.1) . The thermal mass, or heat limit, of concrete has paramount influence in the structure to the external context. Water has a hotness limit of 4.2 kj/kgc although numerous building materials are in the extent 0.8 to 1.3 kj/kgc (Concrete Society, 2009). This property in Belum is critical for overwhelming, where the heat capacity is computed from the volume and the particular high temperature of concrete. The proportion of the surface range laid open to the volume influences the rate at which the heat in modular rooms/suits are absorbed and discharged.

Figure .3.0.1. Thermal mass diagram of concrete

4.0. Benefits of concrete that affects sustainability of Modular rooms/suits

The drastic characteristics in use of concrete provide enormous benefits to the user as well as to the surrounding nature. The counteracting sustainable feature of concrete gives optimisms to the architect to use it in every way to exhibit viable effects to the neighbouring context. However, the wide-ranging usage of concrete in Modular rooms exhibits the best thermal comfort properties which are more concurrent to other sustainable properties.

According to Noguchi (2012, p.53) concrete is considered as one of the best choice for thermal comfort level. Concrete's thermal mass might be utilized to evade or decrease temperature swings in the building and to annihilate the requirement for vitality swallowing cooling frameworks. Concrete walls and floors are powerful storage heaters, engrossing free high temperature from the sun throughout the daytime and discharging hotness during the evening. Concrete stores heat in the low temperature and cools structures in the middle of the year, which is very suitable to the Malaysian Climate.