January 3, 2000
Plans have been launched to make both residential and office buildings more energy efficient. In the first five months of the year, industrial policymakers announced three sets of new national standards. They are regulations on energy saving for civil buildings, standards for residential buildings and technical evaluations of residential constructions. Another new guideline regarding the assessment of green buildings will take effect on June 1. Though not compulsory, it asks for even higher standards to be followed on energy consumption and other environment-related indices. According to Wang Guangtao, the Minister of Construction, these standards have formed a basic framework regarding energy efficiency. Legislators are also actively involved in the process. Both the Law on Energy Saving and the Law on Architecture are being revised to accommodate the new standards. A new decree is also high on the agenda of the State Council, Wang said. He said efforts to improve energy efficiency are important for not only the country’s environment, but also the world. China is the world’s fourth-largest economy and the second-biggest energy consumer. More than 30 percent of the world’s coal, steel and cement are now consumed in China. Energy consumption in buildings accounts for 30 percent of the country’s total energy use. According to Jiang Yi, an architecture professor at Tsinghua University, if nothing is done, the figure will double by 2020. To meet the projected demand would require building more than 10 power stations the size of the Three Gorges power station, he said. Vice premier Zeng Peiyan and other senior government officials have repeatedly said reducing energy use in buildings should be given top priority in the drive to turn China into a resource saving and environmentally friendly society. The subject is already among the priorities in both the 11th Five-Year-Plan period (2006-2010) and its medium and long-term blueprint for science and technology development. The application of new materials and renewable energy is a major part of the government’s strategy to save energy. A good example is the government’s effort to phase out the use of bricks made of soil that have been used for thousands of years. Making such bricks is not only energy-intensive, but also destroys tens of thousands of hectares of farmland every year.