Property developers have to adopt energy-saving technology and products for heating, cooling and lighting in new buildings from this year.
Approval for launch will not be given unless real estate projects meet mandatory energy-efficiency standards, Vice-Minister of Construction Qiu Baoxing told a press conference hosted by the State Council Information Office.
For example, compared with old buildings, new structures must be able to cut energy consumption by at least half.
The benchmark varies from region to region based on their natural conditions. In Beijing, it is now 25 kilograms of coal equivalent, a unit of energy consumption.
Qiu also said that a more stringent standard, to cut energy consumption by two-thirds, will be used this year on an experimental basis in big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai.
The experimental standard is scheduled to become effective nationwide by 2010.
China develops two billion square meters of floor area each year, almost half the global total. The country has 40 billion square meters in existing buildings.
"Whether the new and old buildings can be made energy efficient will partly decide whether the country's energy shortage can be alleviated. It will also have an impact on the global climate," Qiu said.
He said existing buildings would also be renovated to accommodate energy efficiency technology, noting that the introduction of new technology and products would create a big market.
For new buildings, it would mean 100 to 200 yuan (US$12.5 to US$25) per square meter in added expenditure, or 200-400 billion yuan (US$25 billion to US$50 billion) annually.
The upgrading of old buildings is estimated to cost 2.6 trillion yuan (US$325 billion).
Since China is a latecomer in energy conservation in the construction sector, it "welcomes international players to share their technology with domestic counterparts, and benefit from the promising market", Qiu said.
He added that, to further the cause of saving energy in the construction sector, other measures will be taken by related ministries such as the finance ministry including tax incentives and subsidies for companies that develop and apply related technology.
Qiu also announced that the 2nd International Conference on Intelligent Green and Energy Efficient Building & New Technologies and Products Expo (IGEBC) would be held in Beijing between March 28 and 30.
(China Daily February 17, 2006)