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Challenges to Greener Construction

On Wednesday, the Vice Minister of Construction said at a press conference in Beijing that it is imperative for China to develop energy efficient and green buildings to pursue sustainable development.


Qiu Baoxing said growth of industry and consumption, and rapid urbanization in particular, put enormous pressure on energy and economic resources. 


“We must be reminded that energy, land, water and material resources face serious shortages, yet are used wastefully and carelessly, leading to increasingly severe environmental pollution,” Qiu added. 


Ninety percent of verified deposits of fossil energy sources in China comprise coal mines, yet their per capita volume is only half of the world’s average.

Per capita deposit volumes of oil and natural gas are only 11 and 4.5 percent of the world averages respectively. In contrast, the energy consumed per unit of construction area is more than two to three times that in developed countries. 


The per capita amounts of arable land and water resources are only one-third and one-fourth the world averages. However, production of solid clay bricks damages 120,000 mu (8,000 hectares) of productive agricultural land every year.


Compared with developed countries, steel consumption level is 10-25 percent higher, and 80 kilograms more of cement is needed for mixing one cubic meter of concrete. The amount of water needed for flushing toilets is more than 30 percent higher, and the waste water reuse rate only 25 percent that of developed countries. 


Energy efficient buildings meet standards during their design and building processes. Green buildings are highly efficient in utilizing resources throughout their life cycle and minimizing their impact on the environment. They are also called “eco-buildings” or “sustainable buildings.”


“Developing energy efficient and green buildings is an important measure to promote new industrialization featuring extensive use of state-of-the-art technologies, low levels of consumption, less environmental pollution, and dynamic and productive human resources,” Qiu said.


The Design Standards for Energy Efficient Residential Buildings in the Northern Area enforced in 1986 marked the beginning of work promoting energy efficiency in buildings.

Nearly 20 years of efforts have resulted in remarkable progress and achievement. In the meantime, with the spread of sustainable development concepts across the globe, green building has also been gradually accepted in China. 


Qiu introduced efforts such as conducting research into key technologies, setting up the “National Green Building Innovation Award,” and piloting technologies in public buildings, library buildings in higher learning institutions, urban residential areas and rural houses.


Nevertheless, there still exist a great deal of challenges in pushing the development of energy efficient and green buildings forward. 


Society as a whole has not fully understood the importance of promoting the development of energy efficient and green buildings, and lacks awareness of them.


There are also no: policy incentives to guide and support the development of energy efficient and green buildings; workable regulations that could make all stakeholders save resources and protect the environment; comprehensive criteria for resource efficiency and environmental protection in buildings; or effective administrative supervision and regulation systems.


Qiu listed objectives compiled by his ministry in collaboration with other relevant departments to tackle current problems:


l         Setting up and improving the policy and regulatory framework for the development of energy efficient and green buildings;


l         Developing technical standards for energy efficient and green buildings;


l         Developing effective administrative supervision and regulation systems for the development of energy efficient and green buildings;


l         Promoting international exchange and cooperation; and


l         Intensifying training and publicity campaigns.


China.org.cn February 24, 2005

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