Friday, 25 May 2007

Green building in China

Since it was granted the right to host Olympics in 2001 China has been developing green policies. While this was at first largely a response to the fact that the Sydney Olympics had established environmental sustainability as a ‘third tenet’ of the international Olympics movement, the momentum towards more responsible attitudes to the environment has been building recently.

Green building has been given importance in both China’s 11th Five-Year-Plan and its medium and long-term plan for science and technology development. As noted by Austrade, the Australian agency charged with developing exports in goods and services, some outcomes of this elevated emphasis include:

  • The government will invest approximately US$400 billion on energy efficiency projects before 2010.
  • The government has launched an ambitious plan to renovate existing buildings to make them more energy-efficient. Twenty-five per cent of the buildings in medium-sized cities and 10 per cent of those in small cities will be refurbished by 2020.
  • The government has also indicated it will announce tax rebates and other financial incentives for the construction and purchase of energy efficient buildings in the future.
  • There are 11 'Green Cities' and 140 'Green Building' projects under construction. Australian consultants are scrambling to be involved, and their ability to compete with other international consultants is in no small part due to Australia’s relatively long commitment to developing the tools and regulations for energy efficiency and other sustainability measures in buildings.

How ironic therefore to contrast the scope of China’s initiatives, with the miniscule spending by the Australian government on its much trumpeted Solar Cities program (see my last post), and how disturbing that Prime Minister Howard has again suggested that Australians will have to choose at the next elections between more stringent green policies put forward by the opposition parties, and economic viability.

China is more usually seen as the dirty bogey man willing to endure environmental degradation. Given that even the Chinese government has realised that environmental degradation and energy waste are obstacles to China’s economic growth, I can only wonder how long it will take our blinkered government to come to the same conclusion.

Read the Austrade briefing here:

1 comment:

Zhiyuan Sun said...

No one is more excited than Chinese themselves hearing the news that Chinese government trying to promote green buildings. Nevertheless, no one is more painful than Chinese people facing the truth. By no means would I speak ill of my mother country, however, the perquisites of improvement is to know where the problem lies. Obviously, China enjoys the merit of the fastest growing economy in the world, however, the seemingly prosperous, or the flatulent GDP depends highly on the putting up of concrete and low-cost labor force which seems to be a copy of early Japan. To my knowledge, a responsible government should care more about livelihoods, especially the living environment. Put how the environment is being polluted aside,let’s just take a look at the current house property in China: It is a tragedy of people working for a whole life without being able to purchase a house. It is another shock that even they finally afford it, the lifespan of the house is too short to hold up their entire life. It is quite amazing that a house with good quality are torn down because the ironic “requirement of development”. Nowadays, there are too many news about the jerry-built projects, too much waste created by the shoddy construction. Too many condemn on the cold blood of the developer and government’s weak supervision. Too much doubt about the fast growing GDP. It is an open secret of developer’s sweet relationship with officials. It is the cost control and marketing hype that lead China’s property going too far away.
Yes, we want green buildings, yes, we are looking forward to the bright future that green buildings brings, yes, there are amazing achievements of this area that make any Chinese proud of. However, before the implement of the ambitious plan, shouldn’t more effort be put on the basic sustainability of buildings? Shouldn’t a more comprehensive evaluation system be carried out thus in the future we don’t have to reconstruct the building again and again? Is there any chance for a building labeled with “Green Building” not being taken down by the government?
Proudly stand the green buildings, what forms a sharp contrast are the short-lived projects. Perhaps the current economic slowdown of China will finally help people to understand that, it is not the economic profit that worth pursuing, but sunlight coming from south windows in a green building and a responsible government that put the interest of people in the first place.


The development of Green Buildings in China

Short-lived buildings create huge waste

China: Proudly Demolishing Buildings Before Completed In Pursuit Of The Glorious Housing Bubble Perpetual Engine