Timber, its role as an eco-material in Asia’s green building market | Malaysian Timber Industry Board | Dr. Jalaluddin Harun

jalalaludin harun 2Today, building materials have tremendous impact on the environment. Both in construction and operation sectors raise growing concerns regarding construction industry in a local and global scale. Green construction, however, is considered as eco-friendly by using sustainable building materials and employs building techniques that reduce waste and energy consumption. With global concerns on the environment and sustaining the world resources for future generation towards the construction material, Malaysia Timber Industry Board has embarked the development of a competitive timber industry to enhance the sustainable growth of the Malaysian timber industry through the provision of a conducive environment and continuous extension of company quality.

Dr. Jalaluddin Harun, The Director General, Malaysian Timber Industry Board, expresses his insights exclusively with AsiaGreenBuildings by which he had to answer a series of tough questions on how to advise material industries on the use of industrial waste, MTIB’s role in Asia’s green building material market, timber’s utilization for green building practices and how to prevent over-exploitation as well as the use of timber in green building practices across the Asian markets.


How does Malaysian Timber Industry Board play role in the green building material market in Asia ?

The importance of the timber industry cannot be denied as one of the materials and products that contribute to the Malaysian economy.  The timber industry is an important contributor to the market with the annual export value of approximately RM 20 billion and RM 13 billion for the domestic market.

Malaysian Timber Industry Board (MTIB) is a Government Agency responsible in the development of timber industry in Malaysia including the promotion of timber to be used as green material in the construction industry domestically as well as internationally. The National Timber Industry Policy (NATIP) has targeted to achieve an export value of RM 53 billion in 2020. One of the potential areas to achieve this target is through the use of innovative engineered timber products which is part of Industrialized Building System (IBS).

How do you advise the industry with regards to the use of industrial wastes in construction materials? What are the challenges you have observed ?

The industry in Malaysia is encouraged to optimise the utilisation of timber as industrial wastes in construction materials is currently being practised by several developed countries such as Japan.

However, in order for the timber industry in Malaysia to re-process and re-cycle the use of the waste, sufficient volume is required for economic scale and investment of equipment and machineries .

The challenge is that the use of recycled material in the Malaysian market for timber is still considered  a minor priority. At present, the industry is concentrating more on the export market whereby high quality timber products such as sawn timber, plywood and furniture  as well as other value-added products are being exported to more than 160 countries in the world.

How do you ensure that timber is being utilized to the extent it is supposed to for green building practices and prevent over-exploitation ?

Malaysia is practising a sustainable forest management as per requirement in the Malaysian Timber Certification System (MTCS) by complying to either FSC or PEFC Criteria and Indicators.  The cutting of logs is based on selective cutting.

In addition to ensuring the sustainability of wood supply, MTIB has introduced a forest plantation program. The government had allocated RM 1.045 billion to be given out as a soft loan to eligible companies applying to participate in the forest plantation programme.  Total area of 375,000 hectares has been ear-marked for the programme with an annual planting target of 25,000 hectares for the next 15 years.

Can you share some of the most innovative practices of the use of timber in green building practices across Asian markets?

The timber industry has introduced a variety of engineered wood products that have been proven to be competitive materials in developed countries such as glue-laminated timber (glulam).

Glulam is a very strong material and has been used for prestigious projects in developed countries including Europe, North America, Japan, and Australia. Glulam has vast potential to be used due to various advantages compared to other materials such as design flexibility, strong and fire resistant, visually attractive and ecologically sustainable. Glulam timber is the only 100% renewable raw material. It stores carbon rather than emitting it.

In relations to the application of glulam as load bearing structure, MTIB has taken initiatives to establish the construction of Malaysia’s first completed commercial glulam portal frames using Keruing and Resak timber.

What can other Asian countries learn from Malaysia in terms of using timber for green building practices?

Programs and initiatives which have been taken by Malaysia / MTIB can be emulated and explored by other Asian countries in promoting the use of wood in the construction industry in line with Green Building practice.

MTIB continuously promotes the advantages of wood as a construction material through the seminars, technical visits and dialogue with the industry as well as exhibitions. MTIB also undertakes R & D programme together with higher education institutions in conducting research related to use of timber specifically in acquiring of technical data to convince the relevance authorities as well as for standard development process.

The Malaysian government has also introduced Green Procurement Policy (GGP) as one of the Entry Point Projects (EPPs) under the Economic Transformation Program (ETP) to enhance the sector of green technology. Timber is one of many green materials suitable to be used as an IBS component in load bearing construction industries including roof trusses, beams, as well as timber framing.


This exclusive interview is facilitated under a Media Partnership with the Green Buildings & Parks world 2015, at which Dr. Jalaluddin Harun  is a speaker.



About The Malaysian Timber Industry Board (MTIB)

The Malaysian Timber Industry Board (MTIB) is a statutory body accredited to the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities. MTIB was established in 1973 by an Act of Parliament. The main objective is to promote and coordinate the overall development of the timber industry.MTIB is responsible for initiating development of the various sectors of the timber industry and providing technical, marketing and other forms of assistance to ensure their continued growth within a rapidly industrialising Malaysian economy.







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