Malaysia’s Net Zero ‘Twelfth Plan’ to boost modular construction; Australia’s Net Zero Plan modular construction plan exists in the ether

Australia’s Net Zero Plan modular construction plan is unclear while the Malaysian Government’s net zero plan highlights and commits to modular construction.

Malaysia’s twelfth ‘Malaysia Plan’ (12MP) aims to accelerate modular construction as part of its broader strategy to achieve net zero by 2050. This initiative comes at a time when Australia’s Climate Change Authority (CCA) is also providing independent advice to its government on 2035 targets (due October 2024), encompassing sectors like electricity, energy, transport, industry, agriculture, resources, and the built environment. Unlike Australia, where the inclusion of modular construction in the Net Zero Plan remains uncertain, Malaysia is actively embracing modular construction as part of their commitment to net zero.

Australia’s built environment net zero plan will take a holistic approach to emissions reduction in the built environment. This includes reducing:

  • emissions associated with operating buildings (for example, heating, cooling and lighting)
  • embodied emissions in the construction material used in buildings.

As Malaysia’s construction industry continues to grow, the government has introduced the 12MP to amplify sustainable development. This plan encourages industry stakeholders to leverage green building design and focus on enhancing energy efficiency, resource management, and resilience against extreme weather conditions and natural disasters.

The Malaysian government is looking to adopt more innovative construction methods under the 12MP to meet its sustainability goals. These methods include:

  • Industrialised Building Systems (IBS): By manufacturing building components in a controlled environment, IBS reduces material waste and improves energy efficiency, leading to a lower embodied carbon output in construction processes.
  • Prefabricated Prefinished Volumetric Construction (PPVC): PPVC involves constructing building modules off-site before transporting them for assembly, which reduces on-site construction times, minimises disruptions, and ensures higher precision and quality control. This translates to energy savings and reduced emissions.
  • Building Information Modelling (BIM): BIM is a digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a facility, facilitating better planning, design, and management of buildings. This method allows for more efficient use of materials and energy, helps identify potential issues early in the design phase, and reduces errors and rework, contributing to lower carbon emissions.
  • Modular Techniques: Modular construction involves assembling sections of a building in a factory setting before transporting them for installation. This enhances efficiency and sustainability by reducing construction time, material waste, and on-site energy use. Modular techniques also enable easier implementation of energy-efficient technologies and designs.

Malaysia’s approach is also supported by incentives to encourage the adoption of technologies such as IBS, BIM, and modular construction. These incentives aim to promote mechanisation and automation in the construction sector, expedite project completion, ensure resource and cost efficiency, and reduce dependency on low-skilled workers.

The Malaysian Government’s objective in the implementation of the circular economy concept under 12MP will further promote the use of sustainable, durable, biodegradable, and recycled construction materials. Their intention is that it will contribute to lower costs and higher product value through the application of IBS, BIM, PPVC, and modular methods. The green procurement initiative in the construction sector aims to promote sustainable resource sourcing and increase demand for high-value-added green construction materials.

Additionally, developers in Malaysia are being urged to adopt sustainable certification and performance tools, including the Sustainable Infrastructure Rating Tool (Sustainable INFRASTAR), Green Building Index (GBI), and GreenRE. These tools ensure that environmental sustainability features are incorporated from the beginning of the design and construction phases through to the operation phase.

The utilisation of technology in the construction sector, such as IBS, BIM, and modular construction, is expected to accelerate project completion. Akademi Binaan Malaysia in Sabah and Sarawak will conduct reskilling, upskilling, and accreditation programmes to produce qualified local talent. This wider adoption of mechanisation and automation will reduce dependency on low-skilled foreign workers.

As Malaysia moves forward with embedding modular construction in their construction landscape, Australia’s position remains unclear.

Find Malaysia’s Net Zero ‘Twelfth Plan’ HERE

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