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China Promoting Energy-Saving Building Materials in Rural Areas

Thursday, July 14th, 2011
chinese building materials

For several years now, construction has been booming in China, which is in fact the geographical location of at least half the latest building constructions around the world. What is amazing is not only the sheer volume of construction projects going on but also the incredible growth rate of almost 2 billion square meters of building floor space each year.

This construction boom is taking its toll however as the nation needs to support all the energy needs of this industrialization with up to 45 percent of its power capacity. With its current growth rate, China can double the number of existing buildings now up to the year 2020. The problem is whether China will be able to provide all the energy requirements to support this growth.

A concrete step to address this issue is to make extensive use of energy-efficient building materials and technologies to create a new generation of green buildings for the country. The nationwide move is so aggressive that the Chinese government is calling for a 50 percent energy savings target for new buildings. This target was even made higher at 65 percent for new building construction in the four major urban areas of Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai and Tianjin.

Now they are taking this a step further by initiating plans of bringing and promoting energy-saving materials and technologies to rural areas under the auspices of the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development’s (MOHURD) Department of Village and Township Construction, along with five other ministries. Pilot programs are currently being initiated in the Shandong Province and Ningxia Hui autonomous regions, and soon other provincial regions will follow suit.

Energy Efficiency Push in China

As early as the 1980’s China had already been looking into green building technologies to ease the energy problems the nation was already facing. However, the resources and technologies available to the nation then were not yet sufficient to pursue any concrete programs in these areas. By 2006, an energy conservation design standard was finally released by the government, which will be used as a guideline for contractors to follow in adopting green building technologies.

Building for energy efficiency involves energy-saving cooling, lighting, heating and ventilation systems as well as making use of energy-efficient materials. However, the construction cost for green buildings is 100 to 150 yuan more per square meter that standard building materials and procedures. But according to the Worldwatch Institute and other proponents of green building, the monetary benefits derived from energy-efficient building will be ten times the original investment in a matter of 20 years or less.

Even China’s Ministry of Construction agrees that using energy-efficient technologies for new buildings or retrofitting existing ones can reduce consumption of standard coal by 150 million tons annually, saving the nation over 600 billion yuan in costs each year. Now, there are 140 green buildings undergoing construction in China which will be located in 11 green cities. Soon, they will be taking this green movement to the countryside.

Bringing Energy Efficiency to the Countryside

With the growing success of green building construction in China’s urban areas, the government is advancing the market for energy-saving building materials into the countryside, which will be the nation’s future economic arena. Instead of the traditional building methods of the past, rural urbanization will embrace the use of building materials specifically intended for energy conservation.

These materials are lightweight but with good thermal capabilities, making life for the rural folks more comfortable even during the harsh winter periods these regions face. There will be extensive use of solar power and solar heating technologies that will provide an alternative source of electricity, while making rural homes and buildings very comfortable and energy-efficient.

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