Lei Jufang, a newly-elected member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), was impressed by a proposal even prior to the first meeting in Beijing: Before any formal issues were raised, colleagues in her group suggested turning off the heating system in the conference room.
"We decided to go green through our action," Lei, from Gansu province, said. "March in Beijing is not that cold, anyway."
Energy saving has been embraced by members and deputies attending the annual sessions of the CPPCC and the National People's Congress - and helping them along are the 20-odd hotels where they are staying.
At Jingfeng Hotel, which accommodates 400 members and deputies, it is difficult to miss bulletins on energy saving pasted on the walls. One reads: "The whole nation should take action to save energy and protect the environment."
Others offer basic advice on being green in daily life: Climb the stairs rather than using the elevator; it saves energy and is good for your health.
In China Resources Hotel, a note on the bed asks guests if they want their linen changed.
An official at the National Development and Reform Commission said the top economic planner has asked participants at the two sessions to take public transport more frequently and use less disposable stuff in hotels.
On the way from the hotels to the Great Hall of the People, the venue of the two sessions, representatives are encouraged to take buses instead of private cars. And in the washrooms of many hotels, large bottles of shampoo and toothpaste have replaced one-time-use items.
In Jingfeng Hotel, all bulbs are energy saving, and lights in the corridors are motion sensitive. "We want to make sure that lights go off when people leave," said Liu Shuqin, a manager.
Liu said the hotel has been trying various methods to save energy. For instance, the air-conditioning system in the conference room is switched on only half an hour before a meeting. Earlier, it often stayed on the whole day.
The hotel has even changed the lawn outside. Before, the grass had to be watered frequently to make it look lush. Now, it has planted a species of grass more resistant to drought. "It looks as green as before, but consumes less water," Liu said.
(China Daily March 4, 2008)