China's new building construction statute enforced this year sets clauses for the first time on mandatory energy efficiency standard for buildings.
If it works well, by 2020, the country's resources saving in the construction sector will approach the level in a moderately developed nation, said a senior expert with the China Association of Construction.
The Designing Standard for Energy Conservation in Civil Building went into effect on Jan. 1, requiring construction contractors to use energy efficient building materials and adopt energy saving technology in heating, air conditioning, ventilation and lighting systems in civil buildings.
"Given the statute is resolutely enforced, from now on to 2020, the building construction industry will save energy equivalent to 335 million standard units of coal. Meanwhile, the saving of electricity will reach 80 million kilowatts," said Tu Fengxiang, head of the Energy Efficiency Committee with the organization affiliated to the Ministry of Construction.
Approximately 2 billion square meters of floor space is being built annually, or half of the world's total, said Qiu Baoxing, vice-minister of Construction at a recent press conference in Beijing.
Based on the growing pace, China will see another 20 to 30 billion sq km of floor space built from now to 2020.
"It is a great opportunity to make energy more efficient within construction and it is imperative to raise public awareness and to enact laws and regulations," Qiu said, echoing the remarks made by Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan earlier this year.
The building construction industry is rated as one of China's biggest energy consuming industries, which is accountable for 37 percent of the country's total energy consumption.
So far, among the existing 40 billion sq m of buildings in China, only four percent is related to its energy strategies, mainly by adopting energy-efficient heating systems.
Whether the future construction of buildings can comply with the requirements in the new statute is of significance to the country's tackling of the overall energy shortage, the vice minister noted.
China's call for energy efficiency in the construction sector started as early as 1980s but impeded due to the lack of feasible technology and funding.
Boosted by a nationwide real estate boom, huge investment has flown into the building construction sector in recent years. The spread of the energy-efficient concept, however, is still tumbling.
"Construction undertakers will pay an additional 100 yuan (12.5 U.S. dollars) per sq m on average in construction cost in order to meet the energy-saving requirements," said a manager of a real estate firm based in east China's Jiangxi Province.
Another real estate agent in Beijing said that some 70 percent of the company's customers would not take buildings' energy efficiency into account when buying an apartment. The priority concerns usually go to the location, the apartment design layout, neighborhood environment and community greenery.
"Except in the big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, you seldom see designers and construction workers follow energy-efficient technology guidance in their work in other cities across China," said Song Dongsheng, deputy dean of the Building Material Research and Designing Institute.
Accepted or not, the statute has been in effect, and energy efficiency in building construction has been written into China's new five-year national development program (2006-2010), which entails 50 percent less of energy use than the current level, and 65 percent for municipalities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing as well as other major cities in northern parts of the country.
China will host the second International Conference on Intelligent, Green and Energy Efficient Building, New Technologies and products Expo. in Beijing from March 28 to 30. The conference, sponsored by the Chinese Ministry of Construction, will draw industry representatives in Britain, America and France to discuss the new building trend and rosy market prospects in China. endite