Use of Sustainable Materials in Construction

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  1. Introduction

Belum Eco Resort or better known as the Belum Rainforest Resort is one of the hundred islands located in the Tasik Belum, Perak. It is located very near to the famous Royal Belum National Park. Belum Rainforest is an island free from air and noise pollution. It is also the largest manmade lake in Perak and it is15, 200 hectares big. Belum-Temenggor Forest Reserve ( BTFR) is among the last remaining virgin forest in Malaysia where biodiversity is practically unharmed. The Belum Rainforest Resort is one of Malaysia's premier ecotourism holiday destinations until today. Set in the midst of a tropical paradise, Pulau Banding, the Belum Rainforest Resort, is everything nature-lovers and holiday-goers expect in a getaway destination. This island is a place with complete relaxation and serenity. It is surrounded by stunning views and surroundings. This adventurous island is definitely worth a visit for those who wants to get close to the nature.

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Belum Eco Resort’s (BER) design revolves around green eco concept. Until today, BER continues to proudly practice 'Responsible Tourism'. The development of the resort was completely manmade and hand-built, without using any technology.

  1. SUSTAINABLE MATERIAL

Sustainable materials are materials that can be used throughout our everyday lives and it is used in the present without compromising its availability for use by latter generations. It also means that sustainable materials are materials that can be produced in required volumes without depleting non-renewable resources and also without disrupting the equilibrium of the environment. A sustainable material used in a building usually benefits the humans and also the general environment. It is this sustainability that is keeping the environment ecosystem balanced and it is actually accommodating the earth. It is not easy to fully describe what a sustainable material is and the best way of explaining it is to look at it as the materials that are being used to achieve environmental benefits unlike any other conventional materials. Sustainable materials do share some general characteristics which are the natural abundance, the help to extract some amount of energy used and also the help of recycling.

3.0 THE SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS USED IN THE TWO BUILDINGS

Both the Villa and the modern house are built using reinforced concrete as their building structure. Reinforced concrete, in its many forms, is an important building material that can provide many sustainable advantages by virtue of its economic construction, thermal mass, durability, fire resistance, acoustic performance, adaptability and recyclability. Concrete is one of the sustainable building materials that is always being used in most buildings and when both the energy consumed during its manufacture and its inherent properties in-use are taken into account. Whereas, reinforced concrete, it is a composite material comprising concrete and steel. Concrete provides high compressive strength while steel on the other hand provides its tensile strength in the form of embedded reinforcing bars and mesh. Reinforced concrete is chosen to be used in both the Villa and the modern house because concrete is a friend of the environment in all stages of its life span, from raw material production to demolition, making it a natural choice for sustainable home construction. Besides that, reinforced concrete construction has also been developed for low-energy construction and thus it is very suitable to be used in both the Villa and the modern house.

Other than that, the similar sustainable materials used the in the villa and the modern house is steel. This is because steel is an excellent reusable material. Steel can also be recycled from time to time without any deprivation in the properties or even the quality of the steel performance. Steel construction in the industry nowadays has always been outstanding in the low waste credentials during all life cycle stages of the building. It is the fact where steel construction generates very little waste. Any waste generated during construction of steel is being recycled. This is therefore, not even any waste from steel products on the construction site can be found. Steel is chosen to be used as staircases in both the Villa and the modern house in the Belum Rainforest Resort because steel has one of the uppermost strength to weight ratio of any other construction material. Other than that, steel also provides a clean, effective and fast construction technique, which will not affect the building activities on the environment of the Belum Rainforest Resort. The entire steel used as the staircases there in the Villa and the modern house are 100% recyclable.

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Lastly, the similar sustainable material used in the villa and the modern house in Belum Rainforest Resort is glass. Glass produces very little environmental influence to the resort that will make it a good sustainable material of choice to be used in both the Villa and the modern house. In addition to that, glass is made out of many unpolluted materials that are not contaminated and its developing process is highly energy efficient that will only require low level of water. The making of glass and the construction of glass actually generates very little waste. Glass is used as windows, skylights and openings in the Villa and modern house. Glass is an ideal sustainable material to be used because even if the windows or the skylights in the Villa and the modern house in the Belum Rainforest Resort is broken, the broken pieces of the glass are recyclable. Thus, this will contributes to even lower environmental impact. Glass is also very essential in the Villa and the modern house because glass allows maximum sunlight to penetrate into the buildings and also allow maximum views outside the buildings. These transparency characteristic of glass very special among the sustainable building materials and it definitely provide many advantages to both the Villa and the modern house.

4.0 ADVANTAGES OF USING SUSTAINABLE MATERIAL

In a sustainable building, professional workers like the architects, the engineers and the contractors are required to work together on the sustainable materials used and also the material constructions. Sustainable design and its construction method used actually helps to reduce on emissions of polluted gasses released into the earth’s ozone layer. It also helps to decrease the water and energy costs. The advantages of using sustainable materials in the Villa and the modern house can be commonly be categorized in the subsequent methods which are the environmental advantages, economic advantages and social advantages.

The main reason of using sustainable materials in the Villa and the modern house is to preserve our mother nature and avoid the reduction of the earth’s natural resources.

The environmental benefits when sustainable changes are made throughout each stage of the project’s progress in the Belum Rainforest Resort allow us to protect the ecology of the famous Royal Belum National Park and to reduce emissions of polluted gases. It also helps to enhance the air and water value, preserve water, decrease waste streams, conserve and restore natural resource, helps to control and reduce waste and lastly, to control the temperature. Not only does a sustainable material help to improve the quality of the environment in the Royal Belum Rainforest Resort but it also has many commercial advantages as well. From the usage of sustainable materials, decreasing energy intake, and improving water efficiency will allow us to reduce the operating charges, helps to optimize the life cycle of the Building, increase property value in Belum and improve the number of visitors coming to the famous Royal Belum Rainforest Resort. Eventhough the environmental and economic advantages of the sustainable materials and sustainable buildings are acknowledged, the social advantages of the sustainable materials and the sustainable buildings are often not being taken into account. By refining the interior ecological value in the Villa and the modern house, and at the same time, we can also improve the visitors comfort and health. Besides that, we are able to create an aesthetically pleasing environment in the Royal Belum Rainforest Resort. It also helps to minimize the strain on local infrastructure, helps to increase the awareness of the workers working in the resort and to increase the workers’ productivity.

5.0 SUSTAINABLE MATERIAL LIFE TIME IN THE BUILDING

Basically, a sustainable building’s life time environmental effect embraces all working and exemplified components. Working impacts are those materials that consume energy when it is in use whereas the exemplified impacts are always because of the production and construction of the building materials. The durability of reinforced concrete structures in the Villa and the modern house in Belum Rainforest is mostly reliant on the worth of the concrete, least amount of contraction or cracking in the concrete, little to literally nothing amount of oxidization of the reinforced steel in the reinforced concrete, remedial of concrete, and excellence organization of reinforced concrete structure. If the concrete structure is properly designed and constructed it is going to be very long lasting and only little maintenance is required. The durability of the reinforced concrete in the Villa and the modern house is influenced by the exposure conditions or the area of exposure, the type of cement used and the quality of concrete used.

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Steel is used as the staircase in the Villa and also the modern house. One of the very good explanations for selecting steel staircases is their unbelievable strength and great durability. Steel staircases are very solid and are able of supporting huge quantities of mass. This is actually does not only benefits the people who use the stairs but it also means that we can actually create more rare stair plans. Steel itself is already very strong material and there is no need to even worry about the expanding or contracting of the steel in the weather disorders in Malaysia. Plus, steel staircases will not rot, warp or even succumb to termites.The steel staircases in the Villa and also the modern house are also being preserved so that it won’t corrode or oxidize even if they are in contact with water or air.

Yet another reason steel staircase chosen to be built in the Villa and the modern house is because it is very reasonable. Steel staircases, when it is properly bring about, will last for more than ten years and only very little maintenance or even no maintenance at all is needed. No replacement of structural component or painting is even needed at all because they last so long and they are very durable.

The durability of glass can be witnessed in our everyday lives especially in most cities with ancient churches.Glass in the Villa is used at the windows, skylights and openings. Whereas, Glass in the modern house is used as windows. Glass has extremely high durability and it will not break at all unless it is smashed by extreme masses. If not, the glass will continue to stay the same for an extended period of time. Actually, a normal glass can already resist masses applied at fast rates and it is better than the same weight being pressured over a slower period. The only thing is that glass actually agonizes from the pressure oxidization.

5.1 BUILDING CONCEPT USED IN THESE TWO BUILDINGS

Green building or sustainable building concept basically concentrates mainly on two points which is to improve the efficiency of the buildings which consume energy, water and materials and also to decrease the building footprint on the environment and also the impact to the human’s health. All these can be taken through a better site selection, the design of the building, construction method of the sustainable materials used in the Villa and the modern house, procedure taken, maintenance when the work is done, and removal throughout the complete life cycle. The concept of green building includes and incorporates a variation of approaches during the design, construction and operation of building projects. The consumption of green building materials and products represents one important strategy in the design of a building. By using green building materials or sustainable materials, it brings a lot of advantages to everyone. By using sustainable materials in the Villa and also the modern house in Belum, it helps to reduce the maintenance cost or the additional charges over the lifespan of the building because sustainable materials does not really need maintenance. Sustainable materials help to conserve energy in the Villa and also the modern house. Besides that, it will also help to improve occupant’s health and productivity. Sustainable construction materials are always being used by many developers and its used in all the buildings in Belum Rainforest because it brings a lot of benefit and it has numerous features like nothing or little harmfulness, great recyclability, nothing or little off gassing of polluted air discharges. Sustainable materials have very high durability, it can be reused and recycled, and it is sustainably harvested material.

6.0 THE SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS EFFECT ON THE POETIC QUALITY IN THE BUILDINGS

Both the Villa and the modern house are built using reinforced concrete as their building structure. However, both of these buildings have very different poetic quality. The usage of reinforced concrete in the Villa makes the building look huge and spacious and thus, it creates a very dramatic and welcoming feeling. In contrary to the former, the modern house itself has very limited area and the usage of reinforced concrete in the building makes the modern house looks clean and the fact that the house is actually very small is being concealed by the cleanliness and the simplicity of the reinforced concrete structure. The usage of steel in the Villa in Belum Rainforest is used at the staircase and also the windows framing. Steel staircase in the Villa creates a very open and light feeling as you are walking up and down the stairs. This is because the staircase itself is very light and and because of the gaps between the railings and the holes on the treads and risers, it gives the user a very open feeling and also it creates a floating feeling. The steel stairs in the modern house helps to soften the building because from far, the modern house basically looks like a square concrete box and with the stairs, the modern house looks balanced with volume and geometry.

Glass is used in the Villa in Belum Rainforest as the openings, skylights and windows. The glass in the Villa creates a very open area as if you’re standing or living outdoor next to the nature but you’re actually indoor in an enclosed space. The poetic quality of the glass in the Villa is that it creates an outdoor feeling even though you're actually indoor. Glass in the modern house is used as a frame. It frames the trees outside the modern house and it creates and extra space outside the modern house to give a feeling as if the modern house is actually bigger than it is. It’s basically helps to volumize the indoor and outdoor space of the modern house.

7.0 Conclusion

The sustainable materials used in the Villa and also the modern house in Belum has successfully made the building a green building and has successfully Increase the efficiency of the buildings which are using energy, water and materials. It has also successfully reduced the building effects of people’s health and also the atmosphere. The Villa is to hold any event and to accommodate friends and a few families while the modern is to only accommodate a couple or two friends. It is fascinating how these two buildings that were built using the same building materials but have different poetic qualities in their building. The sustainable materials used in the two buildings have successfully created different poetic quality with the use of the same materials. I feel that it is time for the government and the developers to be aware of the importance of using sustainable materials in a building to save the environment and also the earth.