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Green building companies help country save energy
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More than 90 percent of the plants used in the landscaping at the Beijing Olympic Village are drought-resistant and, throughout the community, water-efficient systems collect rainwater for irrigation.

The 160-acre village also uses solar photovoltaic power and solar thermal energy to illuminate the community and heat its water.

Environmental Market Solutions Inc (EMSI), a green building consulting company and a subsidiary of Carrier Company under the US industrial conglomerate United Technologies Corp (UTC), helped design the village. The project has achieved significant energy savings by reducing energy consumption in all the communities' buildings by at least 20 percent compared with US industry standards, said Ross Shuster, Carrier Asia president for Building Systems and Services.

It will serve as a model and blueprint for China's future green building projects, said Shuster.

China aims to reduce its energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20 percent during the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) period and one focus of its green campaigns is the construction industry.

"There is a great opportunity to make energy more efficient in buildings and it is important to raise public awareness and to establish laws and regulations," said Qiu Baoxing, vice-minister of housing and urban-rural development.

The country has already constructed a total of 2.85 billion sq m of energy-saving buildings, accounting for 16.1 percent of existing construction space, said Qiu. By 2010, urban and township buildings will meet the design criteria for reducing energy use by 50 percent. Urban areas will take the lead in implementing the design criteria for reducing energy use by 65 percent.

"China has long been an important partner for us and we look forward to strengthening this as we work to reduce the environmental impact of buildings," said Sandy Diehl, vice president, integrated building systems, UTC. The company, one of the largest suppliers to the building industry worldwide, has introduced many green technologies to the Chinese market in the recent years.

The company's Carrier evergreen chiller, for instance, is the world's most efficient water-cooled chiller. Its Otis Gen2 elevator is 50 percent more energy efficient than conventional systems, and can be up to 75 percent more efficient when combined with Otis ReGen drives, which feed energy generated by descending elevators back into the building, lowering overall building costs.

In 2007 UTC established a five-year program with Tsinghua University for integrated building energy, safety and control systems. Some $5 million has been spent on the project.

"We believe environmental responsibility cannot be constrained by the current economic challenges. UTC has great confidence in the future," said Diehl.

Like UTC, an increasing number of global companies are making great strides in China's green building industry. "We regard China as our second home market," said Humphrey Lau, China CEO of the world's leading pump maker Grundfos.

The Danish company is now working with several real estate companies in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen to develop some green building projects. Grundfos supplies its energy-efficient pumps to, and conducts research and development (R&D) with, property developers to make buildings more eco-friendly, said Lau.

Grundfos is one of the first foreign pump makers to enter China and it has supplied products to many prominent buildings in the country, such as the Great Hall of the People, the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube.

In order to play a stronger role in the Chinese market Lau is leading Grundfos operations in China in a more integrated way. "In the past we had several independent companies in China, but now we are managing them all under a new big umbrella."

The Danish pump manufacturer is also working to enhance its R&D capacities in the country. It now has one R&D center with 70 people in Suzhou in the eastern Jiangsu province. It plans to increase the number of engineers in Suzhou to 350 over the next three years.

"We will do more tailor-made R&D work for the Chinese market, which means that we will develop more green technologies specifically suitable for China," said Lau.

"Our business in China will benefit a lot from the country's economic stimulus package, as a lot of investment will go to energy-efficient and environmental-friendly projects," he said.

The Chinese market currently accounts for 5 or 6 percent of Grundfos' global turnover but Lau said he expects the proportion to increase to 25 to 30 percent by the year 2020.

(China Daily April 13, 2009)

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