Investigating Key Factors Influencing Malaysian Architects' Use of Glue-Laminated Timber: Insights Into the Adoption of an Innovative Building Material

Investigating Key Factors Influencing Malaysian Architects' Use of Glue-Laminated Timber: Insights Into the Adoption of an Innovative Building Material

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-8253-7.ch010
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Glue-laminated timber (GLT) and closely related cross-laminated timber (CLT) represent a technological shift that has brought about new possibilities for architects to employ as part of their design toolkits. In temperate climate zones and industrial countries, GLT and CLT have seen a recent surge in their application. Its popularity has increased in response to favourable changes in building regulations and due to the increasing importance of certifiable sustainability in the built environment. In Malaysia, the adoption of GLT has been very limited to date. This study examines which factors influence Malaysian architects with regard to the use of GLT/CLT as a building material. From the Malaysian architects surveyed for this research, it is evident that there is a significant interest in using GLT and CLT in future projects. Most respondents stated that they had previously considered using GLT and/or CLT but abandoned the idea due to the absence of local supply and the resulting high cost of importing GLT/CLT.
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While timber construction has been used for centuries, advancements in technology have led to the development of a broader range of timber products known as engineered timber (Basaglia et al., 2015) noted that. These products include sawn timber that has been further processed, such as finger joint-timber profiles and plywood, as well as wood product composites bonded with adhesives. Engineered timber products are increasingly used for non-structural applications such as cladding, decking, and interior design, but also include load-bearing elements such as glue-laminated timber (GLT) beams and columns and cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels that can be used for walls, floors, and roofs.

Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) explained that GLT and CLT are produced by combining smaller timber elements using adhesives, high pressure, and heat in a lamination process. This creates a final product with nearly uniform structural integrity. A case study was conducted that demonstrated the use of GLT and CLT as structural building elements and for the building envelope. The study revealed that the structure and building envelope could make up a significant portion (60-90%) of a building's embodied environmental impacts, highlighting the potential for GLT to serve as an alternative to traditional building methods like reinforced concrete structures and building envelopes made from brick in-fill walls or glass facades.

The use of CLT and GLT for structural purposes is gaining popularity due to their high strength-to-weight ratios, which allow for efficient and sustainable construction. CLT panels, for instance, have been used for walls, floors, roofs, and even bridges. The strength and stability of CLT panels make them ideal for use in tall buildings, providing structural stability and resistance to wind and seismic forces (Ehlbeck et al., 2019). Similarly, due to their high strength and durability, GLT beams and columns are increasingly used as load-bearing elements in buildings, mainly commercial and industrial (Basaglia et al., 2015).

In addition to their structural benefits, CLT and GLT are also being used for finishing purposes, including cladding, decking, and interior design works. The natural aesthetic appeal of wood makes it a desirable material for finishing, and the availability of engineered wood products such as CLT and GLT allows for more efficient and sustainable use of wood in construction. For instance, using CLT for building facades can help reduce the energy required for heating and cooling, as wood is a natural insulator (Brenčič et al., 2017). Using CLT and GLT for structural and finishing purposes represents a significant shift towards more sustainable and efficient building practices. As more research is conducted and more innovative applications are discovered, CLT and GLT will likely continue to gain popularity in the construction industry.

Problem Statement

The urgency for the construction industry to address global challenges, as expressed in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), is becoming increasingly important. The goals of Sustainable Cities and Communities and Responsible Consumption and Production are directly linked to the construction industry, and the adoption of sustainable building materials is a crucial factor in achieving these goals. GLT can potentially be one such material which can address concerns related to the impact, performance, and sustainability of architecture and the construction industry. Despite being a country with a long history of timber construction and a significant forestry and timber production industry, Malaysia has limited adoption of GLT products. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that there has been some recent adoption of GLT in Southeast Asia.

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