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Energy-Saving Spotlight Falls on Building Sector
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The Ministry of Construction's draft energy-saving regulation to rein in energy consumption in the sector is expected to get State Council approval soon, a senior official told China Daily.


"The draft of the new regulation has passed through first-round evaluation by the State Council. The legislation office of the State Council has responded positively to the draft, saying 'there is no fundamental divergence involved'," said Wu Yong, head of the ministry's science and technology division.


The "Architecture Energy-Saving Administrative Rule" is now subject to second-round evaluation by the legislation authority.


"The rule has been categorized as one of the legislation priorities of the State Council this year and we expect it to be passed pretty soon," Wu said.


Statistics from the National Development and Reform Commission's energy research project centre demonstrate that per unit energy consumption of Chinese buildings is much higher than those in foreign countries. For example, the energy consumption of an external wall is four to five times that in foreign countries, while a roof is two and a half times the consumption and air-conditioners and heating devices are two to three times.


"That is why we have to issue a regulation to better address the problem," Wu said.


The new regulation includes energy-saving rules and guidance governing new buildings, renovation of existing buildings, energy efficiency administration, energy efficiency evaluation and a penalty system.


The ministry's energy-saving push aims to reduce building and architectural energy consumption by 50 percent in less-developed areas and 65 percent in four economically developed municipalities.


"For Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Chongqing, the standard is higher. Of course, as other provinces' economy and energy consumption increases, we will adjust the current criteria for them," said Wu.


As the Chinese economy drives further forward, energy efficiency has become a priority.


The country's 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010) demands a 20 percent reduction in energy consumption for one unit of gross domestic product by 2010. That's equivalent to an annual 4 percent decrease in energy use.


However, China fell short of the target, with the index rising by 0.8 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2006.


"It is not an easy job to curb energy consumption, especially when the country is focusing on fast economic development. However, we must figure out approaches to solve the problem to maintain sustainable development," Wu said.


But solving the problem demands both policy endorsement and technological support, Wu said.


"That is why we are drafting the new regulation to safeguard architectural energy efficiency," Wu added.


As for how to enhance technological capability to make energy efficiency possible, Wu said international cooperation was a necessary approach including partnering global companies to learn the latest technologies.


Wu raised the example of Trane, a global provider of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) products and solutions.


Trane hammered out a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Construction last year to help it benchmark technologies and standards concerning environmental protection and energy efficiency.


The company organized an energy-saving seminar with the Ministry of Construction in Chongqing recently, promoting energy efficiency in building and construction.


According to Trane's research released at the seminar, energy consumption caused by the use of HVAC equipment accounts for 30 to 50 percent of the total architectural energy cost. If the latest technology is adopted, the cost can be reduced by 20 to 50 percent.


(China Daily November 8, 2006)

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