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Govt promotes energy-efficient buildings
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Five ministries yesterday vowed to join hands to enhance the building energy efficiency (BEE) of new structures this year in a bid to save energy and reduce pollution.

"The government will create a stricter supervision system and play a greater role in guiding the construction market," Qiu Baoxing, deputy minister of housing and urban construction, told a press conference in Beijing.

To counter a trend of ingenuously dubbing buildings as "energy-saving", the authority will form six to 10 expert groups to enhance supervision work among 30 provinces at the end of this year, Qiu said.

The government has worked to improve legislation in this respect, and the country's first energy-saving law detailing BEE criteria takes effect today.

According to the law, the authority will name and shame cities that fail to meet standards and will revoke licenses of any firms that violate the regulation.

The government also urged those who are responsible for the development of energy-saving construction projects that receive central financial support to report the illegal behavior of other developers, Qiu said.

"This mechanism will effectively promote awareness in the private sector, and at least 200 enterprises that were involved this year," he said.

The central government plans to spend 1 billion yuan ($140 million) to promote BEE nationwide this year, Zhang Shaochun, vice-minister of finance, said.

He was speaking at the 4th International Conference on Intelligent, Green and Energy-Efficient Building yesterday in Beijing.

China's green construction industry, with an estimated value of 1.5 trillion yuan, is growing through energy-efficient projects, according to Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Construction data.

Official figures show about 2 billion sq m are constructed every year - nearly half of the world's total.

"My biggest concern right now is figuring out how to improve energy-saving awareness among residents, who care only about price and location when they buy apartments," Qiu said.

Realtors don't push energy-conservation as a selling point, because buyers seldom consider it, he said.

"If buyers paid about 100-150 yuan more per square meter, they would benefit from saving money on water, electricity and heating over the long term," he said.

Launching pilot BEE programs is a good way to educate the public, Qiu said.

Research by the ministry found 68 percent of Beijing residents said after visiting the site of an energy-saving pilot program in Tangshan, Hebei province, that they would pay more for BEE spaces. Before visiting, just 30 percent said they would pay extra.

(China Daily April 1, 2008)

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