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CIDB Conference: Green building materials are the future

The session titled “Green & Innovative Construction Materials and Methods” featured CRT Manufacturing Sdn Bhd deputy managing director Huang Mei Si, YTL Cement Bhd head of sustainability Clarisse Loh and Malaysian Timber Industries Board deputy director (R&D), Fibre and Biocomposite Centre Dr Loh Yueh Feng.

Can steel go green?

The key question in the construction industry today is whether steel can go green in the face of the increased demand for green building materials. According to CRT Manufacturing Sdn Bhd deputy managing director Huang Mei Si, Bloomberg data shows that it costs US$278 billion (RM1.3 trillion) to migrate to a green refinery plant. She was presenting her session titled “Starbars: Innovative concrete reinforcement”.

“So, there are two [issues] here. One is, you have to have deep pockets to change to green factories. Then, option two is to change to the alternative. So, the key question here is, can we? Steel has never been changed in the last 100 years.”

She added that three tonnes of steel is needed for a 2-storey house, and that is equivalent to three tonnes of carbon emissions. A tonne of carbon emissions can only be offset by 40 trees, depending on the tree species, and therefore three tonnes of carbon emissions will need a whopping 120 trees from the offset.

Green steel can reduce embodied carbon by 18%, she explained.

“An IEA (International Energy Agency) 2018 Global Status Report indicates that the building and construction sector accounts for 38% of global carbon emissions. Concrete manufacturing is responsible for 7% of the emissions, while steel accounts for 6.7%. Carbon emissions on this scale have a substantial impact on the environment and contribute to global warming, which makes finding alternatives a key consideration.

“Another threat to the construction industry is corrosion. Ineffective materials in certain environments can cause severe corrosion, leading to calls for frequent repairs and replacement, which consumes additional materials. The cost of corrosion of highway bridges in the US alone is estimated to be US$8.3 billion annually. In response to the industry’s need for new technologies and materials that have less of a negative impact on cost and the environment, NEx (an ACI Center of Excellence for Nonmetallic Building Materials) was established to develop and promote the use of cost-effective materials and solutions.”

Versatility of wood plastic composite

Wood plastic composites (WPC) have many advantages. They are sustainable and environment-friendly; have a long lifespan; cost saving; weatherproof; highly durable as well as termite- and insect-resistant, according to Malaysian Timber Industries Board deputy director (R&D), Fibre and Biocomposite Centre Dr Loh Yueh Feng during her session, “Wood plastic composite in construction”.

WPCs are made of wood flour or other biomass material and thermoplastic such as polyethene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). About 70% of the raw material comes from biomass, while the remaining is from thermoplastic and additive chemicals.

Loh said that WPC products are made using the knock-down and industrialised building systems. Thus, the products are easy to use and install, using the guidelines provided, while the pre-assembled profiles are easy to replace if they are damaged.

“WPC products have gone through several rounds of testing to ensure that they are non-toxic and do not contain many harmful chemicals. It is for the safety and health of humans. That’s why WPC products have received eco-friendly labelling from SIRIM,” she said, adding that the products are made with sustainable or renewable resources.

The products are also versatile and can be used as floor decking, sunscreens, railings, gazebos, doors and windows, roofing, outdoor furniture, planter boxes, wall panels and playgrounds.

“In Malaysia, we have an abundance of biomass resources that can be alternative raw materials for the timber industry, such as oil palm trunks, empty fruit bunches, wood residue, coconut stems, bamboo and rice husk. Biomass can be used to produce biomass-variated products such as WPC and timber panel products like plywood and particle board.”

Loh showed the example of the FAST (friendly, affordable, system and latest technology) house. “So we call it Rumah Banjir because this WPC is waterproof. That’s why we want to have this prototype and we try to promote this affordable house to the local authorities.”

Concrete can be the solution

Sustainable construction is the future and concrete can be the solution, said Clarisse Loh, YTL Cement Bhd head of sustainability, during her session, “Green concrete for sustainable construction”.

“The reason for that is simple … the inherent qualities of concrete itself, of being resilient, being low in embodied carbon, being available locally. All these qualities make concrete very suitable as a sustainable construction material. On top of that, with the advancement in technology in both cement production and concrete manufacturing, we think concrete is here to stay.”

In future, she noted, to have more sustainable cement, there is a need to avoid clinkers or partially replace them in the production process. For example, calcined clay has been tested and found to be capable of replacing up to 30% of clinkers.

“So that’s a good number, 30%. But, at the moment, the behaviour of some of these new clinkers is such that they need to be adjusted. Like in the case of calcined clay, it will have an impact on the water demand of concrete. So that’s where we need to work with admixture producers to formulate the right type of additives to complement this new clinker so that we can achieve the desired performance in the concrete that we produce,” she said.

“At the same time, we will continue to work on the formulation of our products so that we can increase the percentage of the recycled content in our products. In addition, we are also testing different kinds of materials and production processes for cement and concrete. There is already quite a lot of different research and development in this area. With that, we will be able to offer even more circular, low-carbon cement, concrete and drymix products.”

She foresees that other waste materials will be incorporated in cement production in the future. For example, recycled materials from construction and demolition waste. We have already seen this development in neighbouring countries.

The session titled “Green & Innovative Construction Materials and Methods” featured CRT Manufacturing Sdn Bhd deputy managing director Huang Mei Si, YTL Cement Bhd head of sustainability Clarisse Loh and Malaysian Timber Industries Board deputy director (R&D), Fibre and Biocomposite Centre Dr Loh Yueh Feng.

Can steel go green?

The key question in the construction industry today is whether steel can go green in the face of the increased demand for green building materials. According to CRT Manufacturing Sdn Bhd deputy managing director Huang Mei Si, Bloomberg data shows that it costs US$278 billion (RM1.3 trillion) to migrate to a green refinery plant. She was presenting her session titled “Starbars: Innovative concrete reinforcement”.

“So, there are two [issues] here. One is, you have to have deep pockets to change to green factories. Then, option two is to change to the alternative. So, the key question here is, can we? Steel has never been changed in the last 100 years.”

She added that three tonnes of steel is needed for a 2-storey house, and that is equivalent to three tonnes of carbon emissions. A tonne of carbon emissions can only be offset by 40 trees, depending on the tree species, and therefore three tonnes of carbon emissions will need a whopping 120 trees from the offset.

Green steel can reduce embodied carbon by 18%, she explained.

“An IEA (International Energy Agency) 2018 Global Status Report indicates that the building and construction sector accounts for 38% of global carbon emissions. Concrete manufacturing is responsible for 7% of the emissions, while steel accounts for 6.7%. Carbon emissions on this scale have a substantial impact on the environment and contribute to global warming, which makes finding alternatives a key consideration.

“Another threat to the construction industry is corrosion. Ineffective materials in certain environments can cause severe corrosion, leading to calls for frequent repairs and replacement, which consumes additional materials. The cost of corrosion of highway bridges in the US alone is estimated to be US$8.3 billion annually. In response to the industry’s need for new technologies and materials that have less of a negative impact on cost and the environment, NEx (an ACI Center of Excellence for Nonmetallic Building Materials) was established to develop and promote the use of cost-effective materials and solutions.”

Versatility of wood plastic composite

Wood plastic composites (WPC) have many advantages. They are sustainable and environment-friendly; have a long lifespan; cost saving; weatherproof; highly durable as well as termite- and insect-resistant, according to Malaysian Timber Industries Board deputy director (R&D), Fibre and Biocomposite Centre Dr Loh Yueh Feng during her session, “Wood plastic composite in construction”.

WPCs are made of wood flour or other biomass material and thermoplastic such as polyethene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). About 70% of the raw material comes from biomass, while the remaining is from thermoplastic and additive chemicals.

Loh said that WPC products are made using the knock-down and industrialised building systems. Thus, the products are easy to use and install, using the guidelines provided, while the pre-assembled profiles are easy to replace if they are damaged.

“WPC products have gone through several rounds of testing to ensure that they are non-toxic and do not contain many harmful chemicals. It is for the safety and health of humans. That’s why WPC products have received eco-friendly labelling from SIRIM,” she said, adding that the products are made with sustainable or renewable resources.

The products are also versatile and can be used as floor decking, sunscreens, railings, gazebos, doors and windows, roofing, outdoor furniture, planter boxes, wall panels and playgrounds.

“In Malaysia, we have an abundance of biomass resources that can be alternative raw materials for the timber industry, such as oil palm trunks, empty fruit bunches, wood residue, coconut stems, bamboo and rice husk. Biomass can be used to produce biomass-variated products such as WPC and timber panel products like plywood and particle board.”

Loh showed the example of the FAST (friendly, affordable, system and latest technology) house. “So we call it Rumah Banjir because this WPC is waterproof. That’s why we want to have this prototype and we try to promote this affordable house to the local authorities.”

Concrete can be the solution

Sustainable construction is the future and concrete can be the solution, said Clarisse Loh, YTL Cement Bhd head of sustainability, during her session, “Green concrete for sustainable construction”.

“The reason for that is simple … the inherent qualities of concrete itself, of being resilient, being low in embodied carbon, being available locally. All these qualities make concrete very suitable as a sustainable construction material. On top of that, with the advancement in technology in both cement production and concrete manufacturing, we think concrete is here to stay.”

In future, she noted, to have more sustainable cement, there is a need to avoid clinkers or partially replace them in the production process. For example, calcined clay has been tested and found to be capable of replacing up to 30% of clinkers.

“So that’s a good number, 30%. But, at the moment, the behaviour of some of these new clinkers is such that they need to be adjusted. Like in the case of calcined clay, it will have an impact on the water demand of concrete. So that’s where we need to work with admixture producers to formulate the right type of additives to complement this new clinker so that we can achieve the desired performance in the concrete that we produce,” she said.

“At the same time, we will continue to work on the formulation of our products so that we can increase the percentage of the recycled content in our products. In addition, we are also testing different kinds of materials and production processes for cement and concrete. There is already quite a lot of different research and development in this area. With that, we will be able to offer even more circular, low-carbon cement, concrete and drymix products.”

She foresees that other waste materials will be incorporated in cement production in the future. For example, recycled materials from construction and demolition waste. We have already seen this development in neighbouring countries.

Source: The Edge Malaysia

Image: Freepik

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