Application of Thermal Insulation in Buildings in Malaysia

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1.2 - Problem Statement

Energy saving in buildings has become a question of crucial importance in many countries. At the same time, the requirements for satisfactory indoor climate with low electricity consumption have increased which prompt the supply and demand for energy efficient homes. The battle against global warming shall start from home insulation to reduce green house gas emission. In developed countries, government has even allowed tax credit to house owners for costs incurred in carrying out home insulation works which meets the urgent need in the fight against global warming. In Malaysia, the common answer from the public in general to make a house or office cool is probably by switching on the air conditioning. The roof of most houses is constructed using timber roof trusses and concrete roof tiles in Malaysia. The heat gained through the roof which convents through the ceiling has increased the indoor heat to a level that most house owners will not feel comfortable without the use of air conditioners. The impact that roofs have on energy is often overlooked, the impact of which can be significant. In homes, air conditioners make up 23% of energy consumption. Alternatively we can achieve the dream cool and comfort living or working environment despite in a very hot sunny day with the help of install the thermal insulation then will reduce the dependence on air conditioners to cool the home or office. This means insulating a home could potentially save thousands of ringgit in electricity bills. Install the thermal insulation in the wall or roof will increasing the cost of the building but the price tag on insulation is considered small when compared with the benefits including monthly savings in electricity bills throughout the lifespan of the house, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improved comfort and living standards and a huge contribution to the local economic growth, as the insulation material is manufactured locally.

1.3 - Aim

The researcher's aim for conducting this research is to review the uses and identify the importance of thermal insulation. Besides that, to find out whether application of thermal insulation to the buildings is suitable to be adopted into construction industry in Malaysia.

1.4 - Objectives

To review the concepts and uses of thermal insulation.

To assess the importance or advantages of thermal insulation in Malaysia.

To investigate the applicability of thermal insulation amongst the buildings in Malaysia.

1.5 - Hypothesis

Application of thermal insulation into the buildings would increase the energy saving in buildings and decrease in emission to environmental.

1.6 - Background

Governments all over the world are beginning to realize the importance of reducing dependence on energy imports as fuel reserves becomes scarcer and supplies are concentrated on a few politically unstable countries. The building sector is probably the most effective and easiest way to start reducing energy consumption. Reduction in energy demand can be most effective due to applying thermal insulation to the buildings. Thermal insulation is the method of preventing heat from escaping a container or from entering the container. In other words, thermal insulation can keep an enclosed area such as a building warm, or it can keep the inside of a container cold.

Depending on the climate, we spend more or less energy on heating or cooling, but we will spend more energy on cooling the room by switch on the air conditioning in Malaysia. There have a main reason for using thermal insulation for reduction of heat coming in, without too much loss of light due to the hot climate in Malaysia. So, the demand of energy can be significantly reduced by install a thermal insulation into the wall or roof of those buildings. Thermal insulation has been introduced to reduce the demand of energy result in electric consumption costs up to 40% and the country's energy resources. This allows savings on the cost of the air-conditioning, because a smaller unit is needed, and on the running cost of the air conditioning. It also indeed creates a more comfortable living and working atmosphere.

Besides that, most of the people will switch on the air conditioning to keep the comfort in the room or working place in Malaysia. But, the air conditioners will release a haloalkanes which are a group of chemical compounds, consisting of chlorine, fluorine and carbon, called Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC). The CFC will among the "greenhouse gases" in the atmosphere that contribute to future global warming. So, apply thermal insulation to the buildings will reduce using the air conditioning naturally will reduce the emission to the environmental also.

1.7 - Scope of Study

The research project has provided the idea and functions of thermal insulation to the buildings make a preliminary of understanding to it. Besides that, the advantages or importances that apply the thermal insulation to the buildings in Malaysia also fall within the scopes of this research project. In this study, I have studied into few buildings in Malaysia which have installed the thermal insulation such as Pusat Tenaga Malaysia Zero Energy Office (ZEO) building at Bandar Baru Bangi and Low Energy Office (LEO) Ministry of Energy, Water and Communications Malaysia at Putrajaya. Based on these buildings, I will study the benefits that obtain from the buildings which have applied thermal insulation to the wall and roof in this research project. In addition, I will inquire into the applicability of thermal insulation in the buildings in Malaysia.

1.8 - Research Methodology

For the primary source, questionnaires were prepared as a ground for the main survey which relates to the reason of construction firms attempt to apply thermal insulation to the buildings in Malaysia. The questionnaires were then distributed to the construction firms which are be responsible for ‘Pusat Tenaga Malaysia Zero Energy Office (ZEO) building' project and ‘Low Energy Office (LEO) Ministry of Energy, Water and Communications Malaysia' through e-mail.

For this purpose of survey, mailing list was obtained for website which has listing the name, address and the title of principal officer for each firm listed. That company was chosen and sent a set of questionnaire while those company which have not related into the projects will be randomly chosen for obtain the opinion on the applicability of apply thermal insulation in the buildings in Malaysia.

For secondary sources, a comprehensive review of the relevant literature including a computer assisted search, textbook, journals, articles and so on, will be taken to develop an understanding of concept and uses of thermal insulation. Besides that, the importance or advantages of thermal insulation in Malaysia also will be assessed by computer assisted search.

1.9 - Proposed structure of the dissertation

Chapter 1: Introduction.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

2.1 - Review concept and uses of thermal insulation.

2.2 - Review importance to apply thermal insulation into a building.

2.3 - Investigation of applicability of thermal insulation into the buildings in Malaysia.

Chapter 3: Research design and methodology.

Chapter 4: Analysis of the result and discussion.

Chapter 5: Conclusion.


1.10 – References

Chin Teck, Soh. September 30, 2009. Lack Of Insulation In Malaysian Buildings Key Cause Of High Energy Bills. Viewed on: December 23, 2009. Available on: www.HYPERLINK ""highHYPERLINK ""

Chin Teck, Soh. September 30, 2009. Save Energy Fight Global Warming. Viewed on: December 23, 2009. Available on:

Allergy.J, February 19, 1999. ChlorofluorocarbonHYPERLINK "" HYPERLINK ""To Hhydrofluoroalkane formulations. Viewed on: December 24, 2009. Available on:

Chin Teck, Soh. September 30, 2009. Why Insulate?. Viewed on: December 25, 2009. Available on:

2.0 Literature Review

2.1 - Review the concepts and uses of thermal insulation

2.1.1 – Concept of thermal insulation

Thermal insulation has been defined as a material or combination of materials which slow down the flow of heat, reduce some sound transmission or slow down the spread of fire when buildings are in fire.(Anish, 2003) The thermal insulation materials can be suited to any size, shape or surface and the variety of finishes to be used in order to protect the thermal insulation from mechanical and environmental damage as well as to enhance appearance of buildings.(Anish, 2003)

Thermal insulation can be mentioned either to materials used to lower the rate of heat transfer, or the means and processes used to lower heat transfer. Thermal insulation will transfer heat energy and the hHYPERLINK ""eat energy would be transferred by three methods, which are convection, conduction and radiation. - Convection

When the heat is flow whether by forced or natural, within a fluid and the fluid is a substance that may be either a gas or a liquid, this process is called convection.(Zhang, et al. 2005) Convection will then gravitationally-induced heat transport, driven by the expansion of a fluid on heating then hot expanded fluid has lower density, so will rise to the top of colder, and therefore denser, fluid.(Fowler, 2008) For example, when air to be heated, then it will expands and rise. However, if the air movement is established mechanically by a floor register, fan, or wind, then it will be called as a forced convection. - Conduction

Conduction is direct heat flow or conducted from a material especially a solid.(Zhang, et al. 2005) When different parts of an isolated solid are at different temperatures, the heat will flow from the hot places to the cold places until eventually all is at the same temperature.(Fowler, 2008) Conduction and convection have same uses which are functions of the roughness of surfaces, air movement and the temperature difference between the air and surface. The increasing of heat energy can flow through materials and from one material to another.(Kurtus, 2006) - Radiation

Radiation is the transmission of energy through space by means of electromagnetic waves.(Zhang, et al. 2005) This is clearly in the way the sun warms the surface of the earth, which involves the heat transfer through electromagnetic waves and absorption of the heat energy by a surface. Heat from the sun is reaches human skin as radiation, much of it can clearly be seen or evident light, the rest similar electromagnetic waves but at wavelengths human eyes are not sensitive to it. All bodies not at sheer zero temperature radiate, at room temperature the radiation is in the infrared, wavelengths longer than those of the visible spectrum. (Fowler, 2008)

Source: isover

Then, the types of thermal insulation are indicates the composition and internal structure of a building and the types of thermal insulation are normally been subdivided into three groups, which are fibrous insulation, cellular insulation and granular insulation.(Muhammad Anis-ur-Rehman, et al. 1999) - Fibrous Insulation

Fibrous insulation is composing of air finely divided into interstices by small diameter fibers. The fibers may be parallel or perpendicular to the surface being insulated and they may separate or bonded together. That is usually chemically or mechanically bonded and formed into boards, blanket or hollow cylinders. (Muhammad Anis-ur-Rehman, et al. 1999) - Cellular Insulation

Cellular insulation is composed of air or some other gas contained within foam of stable small bubbles and formed into boards, blankets, or hollow cylinders. The cellular material may be glass or foamed plastic such as polystyrene, polyurethane and elastomeric. (Muhammad Anis-ur-Rehman, et al. 1999) - Granular Insulation

Granular insulation is composed of air or some other gas in the interstices between small granules and formed into blocks, boards, or hollow cylinders. This type may be produce as loose pourable material or combined with a binder and fibers to make a rigid insulation. (Muhammad Anis-ur-Rehman, et al. 1999)

Furthermore, thermal insulation is available in a variety of forms and it is usually rated in terms of thermal resistance which is R-value, which indicates the resistance of material to heat flow. The higher its resistance is, the greater the insulating effectiveness is. Of course, the thermal insulation property depends on the type of material, its thickness, and its density. The combined form and type of insulation will determine the proper method of insulation.

There are many forms of thermal insulation are designed to deliver a sustained level of thermal resistance, such as Traditional Batt Insulation or Alternatives, Blown-In Cellulose Insulation, Rigid Board Insulation, Spray Foam Insulation and SIPs/ICFs. - Traditional Batt Insulation or Alternatives

Batt or Blanket Insulation is the most common and least effective insulation used in the states nowadays. It has an approximate rating of R-3 per inch. Technically the R rating is even lower because typical batts are so loose that they allow air to penetrate them and cool them down. It is possible to use batts effectively in energy efficient buildings but the installation is labor intensive. One slightly greener alternative to batts would be to use batts or rolls made of natural fibers such as Bonded Logic's insulation made from recycled denim jeans.[8] These types of insulation typically have a slightly higher R rating and do not harm the indoor air quality since they are made of natural materials. The trade off is that they are pricey and still do not effectively seal air gaps without extra labor and supervision. (Ludeman, 2008) - Blown-In Cellulose Insulation

Loose-Fill Insulation is an option that can be economic friendly because the Cellulose is a type of blown-in or loose-fill insulation that is made from recycled newspapers. There pros and cons but the bottom line is that it will not provide much better R- value than batt insulation and typically it will cost more to have installed. The best applications seem to be for attics that are not well insulated because cellulose can be quickly and efficiently blow over an attic floor to dramatically and safely increase the insulation between the home and the hot attic space. (Ludeman, 2008) - Rigid Board Insulation

Rigid Board Insulation can contain some of the highest R-values with some Polyurethane sheets reaching R-8 per inch. Since the insulation comes in the form of rigid boards it is popular as roof and wall coverings attached to the exterior of the framing of a new building. Attaching to the exterior of the framing will improve the strength of the structure while also creating an insulated break or thermal barrier between the wood studs and the exterior sheathing or siding. This can greatly reduce the heat loss transferred from the inside of the building though the wood studs and to the exterior. There are also green versions of rigid board that are normally classified as polystyrene rigid insulation. This type may contain some recycled materials and will not off-gas like some of the other sheet products might. Besides that, rigid board insulation is also can find boards that are laminated or strengthened to act as both the buildings sheathing and insulation. Since sheathing of some type is necessary, this does not eliminate a step but can greatly improve the building envelope without additional labor. (Ludeman, 2008) - Spray Foam Insulation

Spray-Foam Insulation is probably the most effective type of insulation for traditional, stick-framed buildings available nowadays. The product is in the form of a liquid that is sprayed on and quickly expands to 100 times its size. It can achieve R-values of R-9 per inch but most importantly, it automatically creates an almost perfect air seal upon expanding. While the product is costly, it is effective and reduces a lot of manual caulking and sealing that would be necessary with other types of insulations. The most popular forms are petroleum based but there are also green options such as BioBased Insulation that is composed of 96% bio-content (soy-beans). (Ludeman, 2008) - Structurally Insulated Panels (SIPs) / ICFs

Structurally Insulated Panels are arguably the best way to achieve a tightly sealed and well insulated building. They are basically two sheets of OSB with spray foam insulation sandwiched between them. They are both structural as well as insulating so they eliminate the need for traditional framing and can streamline the construction of a building is assembled properly. All seams are sealed and there is no thermal bridge from studs. The only downfall is many contractors are unfamiliar with them and they can be quite pricey. Many of the green builders are using Structurally Insulated Panels because there are vehemently opposed to stick building as they view it an obsolete building practice. (Ludeman, 2008)

Therefore, apply the thermal insulation for buildings will prevents or reduces heat from escaping a building or from entering a building. Thermal insulation can keep an enclosed area such as a building or a room warm for the cold climate countries like United Kingdom, Poland, New Zealand and so on; or it can keep the inside of a building or a room cold for the tropical climate countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and so on. So, the thermal insulators are applied and functions to minimize that heat energy transfer from the buildings. In thermal insulation, the R-value is an indication of how well for a material insulates for the buildings. - R-value

The R-value is the total thermal resistance (RT) for any building elements, including the surface thermal resistances of the air on either side of the building elements. The conductivity of bulk insulation materials will change with the temperature of the material. (Williamson, 2007) It is significant to realize that the boundary conditions and other factors used in the calculation of the R-values, which will cause the R-value different.

The total thermal resistance of a flat for building element consisting of layers perpendicular to the heat flow is calculated using the expression:

RT = Rsi + R1 + R2 + . . . . . + Rn + Rse

Rsi is the internal surface resistance;

R1, R2, ....Rn are the thermal resistances of each layer, including bridged layers;

Rse is the external surface resistance [Source: Dr Terry Williamson (2007)]

An air space for the thermal resistance within a building element is depends on the valid emissivity of the space as well as the mean temperature and the difference in temperatures either side of the space.(Williamson, 2007) It follows therefore that the calculation of the R-value of a building element containing air spaces depends on the conditions assumed externally and internally.(Williamson, 2007) Thus, the flow of heat can be reduced by applying thermal insulation materials to the buildings and The rate of heat transfer is dependent on the physical properties of the material employed to do this.

Insulation for the home has R-values usually in the range of R-10 up to R-30. The following is a listing of different materials with the English measurement of R-value:



Hardwood siding (1 in. thick)


Wood shingles (lapped)


Brick (4 in. thick)


Concrete block (filled cores)


Fiberglass batting (3.5 in. thick)


Fiberglass batting (6 in. thick)


Fiberglass board (1 in. thick)


Cellulose fiber (1 in. thick)


Flat glass (0.125 in thick)


Insulating glass (0.25 in space)


Air space (3.5 in. thick)


Free stagnant air layer


Drywall (0.5 in. thick)


Sheathing (0.5 in. thick)


[Source:A Hyperphysics Georgia State University]

Another mathematical expression used in thermal quantification, and the most common reference used by the insulation industry, is U-value, or flow rate of heat through a building elements. - U-value

U-value is to be used for describe the amount of heat loss or also called as thermal transmittance, that occurs through an element of construction such as a wall or window. (Raynham, 1975) If an element of construction has a lower the U-value the less energy is lost and the better is its insulating characteristics.(Zimmermann & Bertschinger, 2001) It has the same unit as thermal conductivity, except that since a U-value refers to a given construction, the thickness of which is taken into account, it has the unit W m-2 K-1. U-value is computed according to the formula:

U=(Ri s+ Re s,+Rc a v+k1-l+k2-1+…)-l

Ri s and, Re s are the thermal resistances of internal and external surfaces respectively;

Rc a v is the sum of thermal resistances of any cavities;

k1-l+k2-1+… are the thermal resistances of each material used.

[Source: Mark Zimmerman & Hans Bertschinger (2001)]

Since the U-value is a measurement of heat flow, the lower the U-value, the more slowly does the material transfer heat in and out of the home. The U-value typically is used in expressing overall thermal conductance, since it is a measurement of the rate of heat flow through the complete heat barrier, from room air to outside air.(Anderson, 2006) The lower the U-value, the better is the insulating value.

The U-value of a constructional element of buildings would decreases rapidly as the first few centimeters of thermal insulation are added.(Rouni, 2005) An even more increase in thermal insulation thickness does not always lead to an equally fast decrease in the U-value. The thicker the thermal insulation layer already is, the less the decrease in the U-value is by more adding thermal insulation.(Rouni, 2005) The following diagram shows the decrease in the U-value as the thickness of the insulation layer increases.

[Source: GK Rouni (2005)]

Temperature and temperature variations govern much of our daily lives, the environmental factors such as temperature, radiation, air motion, and humidity, as well as on personal factors such as activity levels, clothing selection and expectation, all of those factors are contribute to the state of thermal comfort.(Bynum, 2000) Thermal comfort is a term given the varying nature of the human condition, has been described as a feeling of well-being, an absence of discomfort, or a state of mind that is satisfied with the thermal environment. (McDowall, 2007)

2.1.2 – Uses of thermal insulation

The human beings have demonstrated that we are need for the protection from the elements of construction and although many of these factors are continuously in flux, but the proper use of thermal insulation, placement of vapor barriers, and understanding of heat transfer will contribute to providing an environment conducive to thermal comfort within the buildings to the human.(Bynum, 2000) Thermal insulation is the better way to protect anything against the heat because the material use for this is really heat absorbing material.

Thermal insulation is to be used to perform many of the functions and the primary purpose of thermal insulation is to reduce heat loss or heat gain through the exterior assemblies of a building in order to achieve energy conservation.(Stettler, 2009) Basically thermal insulations reduce the rate of heat transfer because there are special type of thermal insulation material which converts the heat energy to some other form by conduction, convention and radiation as mentioned as foresaid.

[Source: exergia]

As the drawing shows that the houses lose heat through walls, windows, doors, floors, roofs and ventilation.A Thermal insulation, quality double-glazed windows and controlled ventilation can reduce the heat losses by as much as 50%, thus reducing the heating costs in the cold climate.(Weber, 2006)

However, an energy efficient home featuring thermal insulation, shading, brightly colored external surfaces and controlled ventilation also greatly enhance the thermal comfort by offering protection from the heat and radiation of the sun. (Weber, 2006)A This also helps to drastically reduce the electrical bills that pay to run air conditioners in tropical climate.

Besides that, apply thermal insulation for buildings will protect the environment through the reduction of Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC), Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) and greenhouse gases. (Stettler, 2009) The greenhouse effect to a great level decides the climate on earth. Growth in emissions of greenhouse gases related with human activities menaces the climate balance. Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) are the main greenhouse gas which are emitted due to air-conditioners are function to provide cool or hot air and increasing thermal comfort of buildings, there have led to rapid growth in the amount of Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in the a atmosphere.

Heating, air conditioning and refrigeration are the causes that result in this growth. If no action is taken at all, the EU Member States said that greenhouse gas emissions could be expected to further increase by 17% between 1990 and 2010, while the target set by the Kyoto Protocol for the period is to reduce the emissions by 8%. The reasonable level of expenditure on insulation is directly related to the amount of the heat loss or heat gain, and to the electricity of air-conditioning required to produce an appreciable return in terms of electricity saving. Fortunately, it is possible to reduce energy consumption and the associated Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions in heating and air conditioning by one third by using more or better insulation for the buildings.(Roberts, et al. 1981)

Furthermore, the thermal insulation also can be used in buildings in order to prevent or reduce condensation on surfaces.(Raynham 1973) If wants to prevent condensation on the surface of walls, it is necessary to have adequate ventilation and sufficient insulation and heat input. It is also necessary to consider the question of whether condensation is likely to occur within a structure.

Since most structures experience a falling dew point especially where insulating internal linings are provided, as well as temperature gradient from inside to out, it is possible for the temperature on the cold side of the insulation to fall below the dew point, causing interstitial condensation.(Raynham 1973) This can be controlled by providing water vapour barriers on the warm side of the insulation. This may take the form of polythene film or certain types of paint treatment, such as chlorinated rubber on the insulated lining. In some situations such as factory roofs and some timber flat roofs, ventilation is provided above the insulation to remove any water vapour that has penetrated that far.(Raynham 1973)

Thermal insulation also can use to prevent or reduce damage to buildings when occur fire in the buildings or near the buildings.(Raynham 1973) When fire breaks out in a compartment the contents of the whole room are heated up, leading to accumulation of flammable gas. Eventually a point is reached when these gases, together with the materials evolving them, suddenly kindle and thus involve the whole room in fire.

Tests done many years ago at the Fire Research Station (Raynham 1973) investigated the factors leading to a short, and therefore dangerous, flashover time. Tests involving fires in domestic sized rooms with insulating board and hardboard wall linings showed that flashover occurred at between 8.5 and 12min. Two further tests made with a noncombustible sprayed insulating lining gave flashover times of 8 and 4.5 min, thus suggesting that the thermal insulating characteristics of a lining are probably more significant from a fire development point of view than its combustibility. If this is true to any extent, significantly improved standards of thermal insulation, such as we are about to adopt in this country, are almost certain to accentuate the fire risk, especially in dwellings.

The thermal insulation also can be installed in the mechanical system in commercial buildings and industrial processes.(Avtivity, 2008) In buildings such as shopping centers, schools, hospitals, and hotels, mechanical insulations are installed to improve the energy consumption of the cooling and heating systems for buildings, domestic hot and cold water supply, and refrigerated systems including ducts and housings. However, for industrial facilities such as power plants, refineries, and paper mills, mechanical thermal insulations are installed to control heat gain or heat loss on process piping and equipment, steam and condensate distribution systems, boilers, smoke stacks, bag houses and precipitators, and storage tanks.(Avtivity, 2008)

Thermal insulation for mechanical system is to dominate the temperatures of the surface for personnel and equipment protection. That is one of the most effective mediums of protecting workers from second and third degree burns resulting from skin contact for more than 5 seconds with surfaces of hot piping and equipment operating at temperatures above 136.4A°F.(Avtivity, 2008) Thermal insulation will function to reduces the surface temperature of piping or equipment into a safer level as required by OSHA, resulting in increased worker safety and the avoidance of worker downtime due to injury.(Avtivity, 2008)

Besides, thermal insulation also will control the temperature of commercial and industrial processes when installed in the mechanical system.(Avtivity, 2008) Thermal insulation can help maintain process temperature to a pre-determined value or within a predetermined range by reducing heat loss or gain. The insulation thickness must be sufficient to limit the heat transfer in a dynamic system or limit the temperature change, with time, in a static system.(Avtivity, 2008) The need to provide time for owners to take remedial action in emergency situations in the event of loss of electrical power, or heat sources is a major reason for this action in a static system.

At last but not least, installed the thermal insulation in the mechanical system will reduce noise from mechanical systems.(Avtivity, 2008) Insulation materials can be used in the design of an assembly having a high sound attenuation or sound resistance. The sound transmission loss when the thermal insulation to be installed between the source and the surrounding area.(Avtivity, 2008) So, thermal insulation not only can be used for building but also for the mechanical system in commercial buildings and industrial processes in order to achieve different effects.

2.2 – The importance or advantages of thermal insulation in Malaysia

2.2.1 – Advantages of thermal insulation in Malaysia

Governments all over the world are beginning to recognize the significance of reducing dependence on energy imports as fuel reserves becomes scarcer and supplies are focused on a few politically unstable countries. In the Malaysian context, the energy imports are expected to equal exports by 2014 as energy demand is expected to triple by 2020, as predicted by NIRAS in their Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Component, Energy Outlook report.[MIMG – Why Insulate (2007)] Therefore, Malaysia Government has started to think over the methods on order to resolve that problem.

Firstly, the energy efficiency measures are tops the agenda which need to be emphasize by government because it will directly responsible for energy conservation efforts in Malaysia. It will no longer be enough to talk about energy saving plans but is the immediate steps must be taken to make energy efficiency requirements as part of the country's by-law implementation.[MIMG – Why Insulate (2007)]

The latent for profitable energy savings is immense and remains largely untapped. The readily suitable, affordable and well proven technologies for energy efficiency solutions for now are application of thermal insulation in building envelopes.[MIMG – Why Insulate (2007)] This is because the thermal insulation will provides the occasion for the energy savings that is sustainable in the long term.

2.2.1 - Energy Saving

The most effective and easiest way to start reducing energy consumption probably is the construction sector. The following chart show that the electricity consumption by each sector.

Reduction in energy demand can be most effective when big consumption of energy users such as commercial buildings and factories are dealt with.[MIMG – Why Insulate (2007)] Malaysia is a tropical climate country so that the general public to make a building such as house, shop or office cool is probably by switching on the air conditioners.

Almost every people who are living in the tropical climate counties and all of them rely on air conditioners to cool the buildings during a hot day and most of the offices are switch on the air conditioners once the offices are in use. So, if want to achieve a cool and comfort living or working environment despite in a very hot sunny day can with the help of apply thermal insulation in buildings in order to reduce the dependence on use of electricity to run the air conditioners to the homes or offices.

Some of the commercial buildings in Malaysia such as GEO building, LEO building, ZEO building and so on, have certified that use of thermal insulation will reduce the energy consumption. The following chart shows that the energy savings for LEO building after use of thermal insulation.

The roof of the LEO building is insulated with 100 mm of thermal insulation and the roof surface is protected by a second canopy roof, which avoids direct solar radiation onto the roof.(Tang, et al. 2006) Along the perimeter of the roof, green landscaping will provides shading and improves the aesthetics of the roof areas, which can be used for various functions.(Tang, et al. 2006) Therefore, the LEO building can achieve a cool and comfort working environment despite in sunny days but consume less electricity to run the air conditioners to the office.

[Source: Aniza Abdul Aziz et al. (2007)]

In the year 2006 report done by the Ministry it was found that LEO building has the energy index of 110 compared to a typical building of the same floor area which is 275, a savings of RM0.6 million per year. LEO building is expected to achieve the payback of the construction cost in 8 years period with the savings made from less electricity consumption. (Mohamed, 2008)

However, the ZEO building adopted high insulation in facade and roof and installing spectrally selective glazing or double-glazing on all of the windows so that the building can reduce the heat gain from outside of the building. (Aziz, et al. 2007) Optimal orientation of building, composite walls and roofs with thermal insulation, advanced fenestration systems with spectrally selective glazing, innovative design of shading systems, design of building for maximum use of daylight, modification of the external environment, computer modeling of building and Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) are the characteristics taken into consideration to save energy consumption of the building. (Aziz, et al. 2007)

The LEO building and ZEO building have verified that apply the thermal insulation in the walls and roofs of buildings will reduce energy consumption. The thermal insulation will maintain the temperature in the buildings and save a large amount of energy consumption in order save the money due to less use of electricity, as buildings are more energy efficient.

2.2.2 - Money saving

The provision of higher standards of thermal insulation is frequently a matter of economics by spending money on installation of thermal insulation to save money by reduced heat loss or heat gain thereafter. The financial return for a given expenditure is clearly greater if the building such as a house is occupied and the house is cooling by air-condition continuously, than if the building such as an office or shop is only occupied for eight hours a day, five days a week.(Raynham, 1975)

Around 60% to 70% of heat will gained in a house or office comes through the ceiling so that only the space under the roof of a house or office would need to be insulated as in Malaysia. The Insulation Council of Australia and New Zealand Director Ray Thompson, also explained that insulation does this by stopping the heat from coming through the roof or ceiling space and going into the area which has ocupied.(Barakat & Chamberlin, Inc. et al. 2005)

According to Mr. Soh Chin Teck, the Malaysian Insulation Manufacturers Group (MIMG) Chairman, said that air conditioners make up 23% of energy consumption in most of the homes and 57% of energy consumption in most of the offices in Malaysia.(Barakat & Chamberlin, Inc. et al. 2005) This means that installation of thermal insulation a Malaysian buildings could potentially save thousands of ringgit in electricity bills and that all sounds fine and well for the owners.

Thus, the installation of thermal insulation will reduce the use of electricity to run the air-conditioners in order to save electricity fees and the house or office can always accepting that adequate comfort levels have be achieved throughout the period of occupancy.

According to McKinsey / Vattenhall Climate Map, usage of air conditioners in the world's largest economies such as the United State, China and India willA triple before 2030 result in increasing the use of electricity and the electricity fees. Thus, if want to control and reduceA the use of air conditioning in the countries which are tropical and hot climate, it is crucial to insulate the buildings better. This is especially important for some fast developing countries such as Malaysia, India, China and other Asian regions. This is because there are many new buildings being built.

Although installation of thermal insulation will increase the cost of construction but the price of installation of thermal insulation is considered small when that is compared with the benefits after install the thermal insulation.(Barakat & Chamberlin, Inc. et al. 2005) Those are monthly savings in electricity bills throughout the lifespan of the house and improved the comfort and living standards for the people.

An energy analysis reveals that the total energy consumption of the LEO Building amounts to 2.218 MWh/year, compared to 5.290 MWh/year if it had been designed and built without the thermal insulation. The following table shows that the calculation of cost saving, this results in an annual energy cost saving of RM 605,000.

Cost Saving Calculation Energy Cost [RM/ year]


Cooling Energy

Electrical Energy


Conventional design

BEI=275 kWh/m2




LEO Building

BEI=114 kWh/m2

(actual energy bills)








Saving [%]




[Source: Energy Performance of LEO Building]

Besides that, thermal insulating material is much cost effective because once there installed there demand very less maintenance and there are not ongoing expenses of these materials. For example, if the temperature of a building rises to certain level, then the owner needs to use various temperatures lowering things such as air-conditioners which will use more energy and hence increasing the expense of the owner on the ongoing bases.A So, thermal insulation will help the owners save the ongoing expenses to lower down the temperature of the buildings.

In addition, installation of thermal insulation will save energy and resources led to minimize the emission of toxic substances throughout its life cycle.(Fong, 2005) This in turn will have a positive and good impact in reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and air pollution for the world.

2.2.3 - Pollution reduction

Although global warming is a worldwide effect which is caused by carbon dioxide emissions but Malaysia cannot ignore its responsibility to help save the environment. Thus, the energy savings from installation of thermal insulation is good news for the environment.(Anish, 2003) Thermal insulation to the buildings will reducing the energy needed to cool homes and commercial buildings result in the thermal insulation prevents carbon dioxide emissions which have contribute to global climate change.

According to CT Soh (2008), installation of thermal insulation will bring down energy consumption by over 3,300 gigawatts per hour (GWh) and reduce carbon dioxide emission of over 2.5 million pounds.(Anish, 2003) Besides, Malaysia currently produces 3.7 pounds per capita of carbon dioxide every year, beating even the largest and most populous nation of world, China, which emits 2.2 pounds a year.(Anish, 2003) Therefore, it is importance to take immediate steps to inculcate consciousness on the benefits for installation of thermal insulation among Malaysians.

Other air pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, are also avoided. Energy use by the insulation industry emits 4.74 billion pounds of carbon dioxide during insulation production of one year. However, the installation of thermal insulation has produced in that same year avoids twelve times that amount, which is about 57 billion pounds. (Anish, 2003)

These energy savings would prevent substantial amounts of carbon dioxide emissions and air pollution as well. Evidently, installation of thermal insulation has been great benefits in terms of energy savings, money savings, and pollution reduction for the Malaysia and for individual consumers. Thus, installation of thermal insulation should be considered a key resource for buildings regardless for residential buildings, commercial buildings and factories, in the cause to increase the energy efficiency of buildings and improve the environment.

2.3 – Summary

Thermal insulation is a materials or combination materials which can be used as many functions for buildings, however thermal insulation most to be used to reduce heat transfer from come out a building or from go in a building through convection, conduction and radiation. The thermal insulation is divided into fibrous insulation, cellular insulation and granular insulation. Besides, there are many forms of thermal insulation such as Traditional Batt Insulation or Alternatives, Blown-In Cellulose Insulation, Rigid Board Insulation and etc. and each form of thermal insulation have their own properties. Then, the R-value and U-value are use to indicate how well for a thermal insulation material insulates for the buildings. Thermal insulation not only can use for to reduce heat loss or heat gain through the exterior assemblies of a building in order to achieve energy conservation, but also to reduce the emissions of environment. Besides that, prevent or reduce condensation on surfaces and slow down the spread of fire also are the functions of thermal insulation for buildings. However, thermal insulation also can be installed in the mechanical system in commercial buildings and industrial processes in order to improve the energy consumption of buildings, dominate the temperatures of the surface for personnel and equipment protection, control the temperature of commercial and industrial processes and reduce sound and noise transmission from mechanical system. In Malaysia, thermal insulation is seldom to apply for buildings but also found that some commercial buildings such as LEO buildings, ZEO buildings, GEO buildings and etc, which have install thermal insulation for these buildings to achieve energy saving, money saving and pollution reduction for individual and also the environment.

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Application Of Thermal Insulation In Buildings In Malaysia. (2017, Jun 26). Retrieved September 24, 2023 , from

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