Linking the Industrialised Building System (IBS) with Sustainable and Green Construction

(Article for Business & Investment (B&I) Magazine) - April - May 2010

By Kamarul Anuar Mohamad Kamar, Ir. Elias Ismail, Emasria Ismail, Ir. Dr. Zuhairi Abd. Hamid, Professor Charles Egbu, Dr. Mohamad Arif, Maria Zura Mohd Zin, Mohd. Khairolden Ghani and Ahmad Hazim Rahim

Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) Malaysia

Sustainable and Green Construction

Society recognises the need to move towards sustainable development. Construction has an important role to play within the sustainable development agenda, not only because of its contribution to the national economy, but also because the built environment has a major impact on the quality of all of our lives, our comfort and security, our health and wellbeing and our productivity. Constructing, maintaining and upgrading our built environment have a potentially significant environmental impact. Construction is a major consumer of non-renewable resources and a massive producer of waste, and the operation of buildings is responsible for around half of the total CO2 emissions. The challenge for the construction industry, therefore, is to deliver economic buildings that maintain or enhance our quality of life, while at the same time reducing the impact of the social, economic and environmental burdens which it places on us.

However, 30- 40% of the total natural resources used in developed and developing countries are exploited by the building industry. Almost 50% of this energy flow is used for weather conditioning (heating and cooling) in buildings. Almost 40% of the world’s consumption of materials converts to the built environment, and about 30% of energy use is due to housing.

Therefore, the issues of sustainability and green construction have been duly highlighted in the Construction Industry Master Plan (2005 – 2015) as being of significant importance for the Malaysian Construction Industry. The Malaysian government is also committed to addressing sustainability issues and meeting its target and obligations in this regard.

The Potential Roles of IBS in Green Construction and Sustainability

Industrialised Building System (IBS) is defined as a construction technique in which components are manufactured in a controlled environment (on or off site), transported, positioned and assembled into a structure with minimal additional site work. Those parts of building that are repetitive but difficult, time consuming, labour intense to cost at site are design and detailed as standardised components at factory. IBS also involve onsite casting using innovative and clean mould technologies (steel, aluminum and plastic). IBS offers benefits in term of cost and time certainty, attaining better construction quality and productivity, reducing risks related to occupational safety and health, alleviating issue on skilled workers and dependency on manual foreign labour and achieving ultimate goal of reducing overall cost of construction. There are several aspects of IBS that has the potential of contributing to different aspects of sustainability and green construction. Some of the major aspects are explained below:

• Sustainability from Controlled Production Environment: IBS offers a controlled manufacturing environment with the ability to reach difficult nooks and corners, which are often inaccessible in regular in-situ construction. With the availability of production tools, and permanent jigs and fixtures, it is easier to control the workmanship of construction, ensuring a tighter construction resulting in lot lesser energy losses due to leakages (thermal leakage)

• IBS and Waste: IBS traditionally has been known to minimize waste, with the ability to reuse material from one module or product into another, the sustainability agenda is supported through its use. However, several aspects of planning both in terms of materials management and production management have to be monitored in order to achieve the waste minimization benefits promised by IBS.

• IBS and Building Materials: Several pre-fabricated technologies such as Structural Insulated Panels (SIPS) and composite panels offer great potential in terms of fabrication of more energy efficient buildings. However, if appropriate process control and planning are not implemented these potential benefits could be lost due to expensive on-site assembly processes. Therefore, it is important that the advent of new technologies should be accompanied by proper process design for on-site assembly.

• IBS and Logistics: Some estimates recently have put the amount of environmental impact from material transportation activities to be one-third of total environmental impact on the entire construction process. IBS offers another benefit, and that is the ability to order in large quantities thus reducing the number of trips to be taken. Despite this potential benefit, it is important that a detailed material transportation and logistics plan be put in place.

• IBS and Economic Sustainability: With Malaysian government’s emphasis on reduction of reliance on foreign labour, and the ability of IBS to deliver to this goal is well documented. However, for this to succeed there is the need to develop a detailed training and dissemination strategy for promoting IBS and preparing the workforce for that.

The Green Building Index (GBI)

One of the efforts towards encouraging sustainable and green construction is to promote green building initiative. Green building, also known as green construction or sustainable building is the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building's life-cycle. The Green Building Index (GBI) is an environmental rating system for buildings developed by PAM (Pertubuhan Arkitek Malaysia / Malaysian Institute of Architects) and ACEM (the Association of Consulting Engineers Malaysia). The Green Building Index is Malaysia’s first comprehensive rating system for evaluating the environmental design and performance of Malaysian buildings based on the six (6) main criteria of Energy Efficiency, Indoor Environment Quality, Sustainable Site Planning & Management, Materials & Resources, Water Efficiency, and Innovation.

The Potential Roles of IBS under GBI Assessment

IBS has potential roles under the GBI rating especially under the Residential New Construction (RNC) classification. Based on assessment, IBS can assists building owners to score points under the assessment criteria on the following items:

• SM 3: Sustainable Site Planning and Management - Encourage IBS and reduce on-site construction. Reduce material wastage and construction wastage to landfill sites. Reduce the polluting effects of construction and from workers during construction (IBS > 50 = 1 points, IBS > 70 = 2 points)

• EQ 4: Good Quality Construction - Encourage and recognise good quality construction – first time right – that does not require re-work that wastes materials and labour (> 70% CIDB’s QLASSIC points) (1 point)

• MR 2: Material Reuse and Selection - Reuse building materials and products in order to reduce demand for virgin materials and to reduce waste, thereby reducing impacts associated with the extraction and processing of virgin resources. Integrate building design and its buildability, with careful selection of building materials in relation with embodied energy and durability of the materials to lower carbon content and better building life cycle (2 points)

• MR 3: Construction Waste Management - If project uses high level of prefabrication with IBS score > 70, (1 point for every 10% increase in prefabrication up to a maximum of 2 points)

• IN 1: Innovation in Design and Environmental Design Initiative –Innovative use of building features to passively cool the building (not an exclusive item) (up to 5 points)

In a nutshell, GBI provides a fresh challenge for the construction industry to practice sustainable development and at the same time providing highest quality of affordable building. IBS can be a potential solution to this. IBS promoters should see this as an ample opportunity to promote a greater use of IBS. Most importantly, more research should be conducted in this area to create new innovation in IBS and link IBS with other aspect green and sustainability issue (energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality and water efficiency) which could possible helping the industry to successfully addressing GBI.

The way forward

With the growth in construction activities, it has become imperative that design tools be provided which can give insights into the sustainability of a building at an early design stage itself, and helps the design team incorporate the sustainable solutions in a building very early in the design process. IBS is proposed as one of the many ways to embrace sustainable and green construction. In fact, IBS has potential roles under the GBI especially on Residential New Construction (RNC). Although, the use of IBS is not mentioned directly under GBI’s Non Residential New Construction (NRNC), the use of IBS offers the same benefits of sustainable and green construction to building owners on top of quality and the speed of construction. With the growing prominence of IBS, we are starting to have the luxury of manufacturing buildings in a controlled environment in the future, where issues of sustainability can be addressed faster, and more efficient. IBS can be a potential solution to achieve greatness in the area of green construction and sustainability


Mr Lonely said...

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Kamarul Anuar Mohamad Kamar said...

Thanks.. will visit the blog

one skywalker said...

Can i cite this article?

Kamarul Anuar Mohamad Kamar said...

ok kot.. not published yet.. but will published in B&I magazine this month..

migdad said...

nice one ,, may i ask a question is it the same way to link green building concept to IBS , plz i need this answer , email it to me u can , migdad@77hotmail.my

Adii Dee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adii Dee said...

good information..can i ask more regarding IBS bcoz currently im doing a dissertation bout it?

Dr. Kamarul Anuar Mohamad Kamar said...

salam boleh email saya di kamarul2411@gmail.com

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