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Developers given green warning
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Heavy punishments will be meted out to property developers and designers who fail to follow energy conservation rules, a senior construction official said yesterday.

"Once we find violators, we will disclose their names to the public and punish them," Qiu Baoxing, vice-minister of construction, said.

Naming violators will deprive them of business opportunities and let their clients in on their bad conduct, Qiu told a press conference by the State Council Information Office.

He also said a Construction Energy Efficiency Rule adopted by the State Council recently will soon be implemented nationwide.

He did not reveal details of the rule, but earlier reports said it offers tax incentives to developers and property owners who follow energy efficiency rules.

Latest figures from the ministry showed that as of October, 97 percent of new building projects under design conformed to energy conservation standards adopted in July 2006, but only 71 percent of those under construction did so.

The 2006 rule set detailed, energy-saving requirements for new buildings on heating and air-conditioning systems.

Wang Tiehong, chief engineer with the ministry, said the gap between the two figures is because some buildings under construction were designed before July 2006 and still adhere to the old energy standards.

However, Song Chunhua, president of the China Real Estate Association, told a forum last month that some developers that had pledged to meet the national standards at the design stage changed their minds because of increasing costs at the construction stage.

Qiu said implementing the energy-saving standards increases property costs by 5-10 percent, but it is estimated energy consumption will be reduced 40 percent nationwide on average if the standards are fully put in place.

New energy-saving buildings constructed during the first 10 months of last year can contribute to energy conservation efforts to the tune of about 5 million tons of carbon emissions, Qiu said.

He said the construction ministry will also try to promote the use of a special logo to identify buildings that have passed energy efficiency assessments, and only those with the logo will be allowed to go on sale.

The logo will be adopted in some cities in a pilot phase this year, and will be expanded to include all new buildings within two years.

He said the new energy efficiency requirements will not drive up property prices, as the 100 yuan ($14) increase per meter makes up only a small part of the cost.

At the press conference, Lai Ming, director of the science and technology division under the ministry, said closing down dirty construction sites may be an option for the Beijing municipal government to ensure a clean environment during the Olympics.

"I think the government should be thinking about it," Lai, who has been working with the Games' organizing committee, said.

"The decision will not be surprising," Lai said. "Many previous hosts took steps to control their transportation and construction industries for the sake of a clean environment."

(China Daily February 27, 2008)

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