Monday, February 25, 2008

Can sustainable construction help China meet its environmental goals?

China's historic migration may prove to be the ultimate test for advocates ans practitioners of sustainable development. Time has run out for theories and debates. According to Josh Adams in the following article from Asian Times, as many as 10 million people are expected to relocate from China’s countryside to urban areas every year for the next 20 years!

China's explosive growth -- and the way that the U.S. and the rest of the world respond to it -- could very well be the story of the 21st century. Consequently, a lot of attention is being focused on Dongtan, China's highly touted "eco-city of the future". If it's for real it could spark a revolution in urban design. On the other hand, if it turns out to be mostly hype, it may not be too soon to be thinking about building that ark. (GW)

China's green race against urban surge

By Josh Adams
Asian Times
February 23, 2008

BEIJING - Every year for the next 20 years, up to 10 million people will move from China’s countryside to urban areas. This unprecedented migration will place huge demands on existing cities, and on the environment. On average, Chinese city dwellers use three times more energy than their rural counterparts, and by 2020 China will account for 16% of the world’s total energy consumption. This is a prospect that is causing serious concern, both inside and outside China.

If China follows the historic trends of the West as it develops, residential and commercial building energy consumption could soon skyrocket to account for a third of the nation’s total energy use. If coal, China’s most abundant fossil fuel, continues to supply most of the country’s energy needs, and China’s buildings continue to multiply and consume energy as they do now, the resultant increase in the country’s carbon dioxide emissions will dwarf any reductions achieved elsewhere.

Many individuals, organizations and the Chinese government feel that a committed drive toward sustainability is the only way that China can reduce the size of its ever-expanding environmental footprint. For years, the most widely bandied piece of eco-jargon in the field of corporate social responsibility, "sustainability", has been all about preserving the world’s natural resources and environment for future generations.

Since China won the bid to hold the 2008 Olympics, renewed vigor in learning about sustainability has abounded in Chinese circles, not least because Beijing has vowed to make the August Games the most technologically advanced and environmentally sustainable to date. In China’s current Five Year Plan (2006-2010), the government has tried to turn away from growth-driven policies toward sustainable development, demonstrating the desire of the country’s leaders to address the country’s dire environmental problems.

One of the key objectives of the plan is to reduce the amount of energy required to produce a unit gross domestic product (GDP) by 20%, and China’s total discharge of carbon dioxide by 10%. As the country urgently needs to erect 100 million more homes, and huge numbers of office blocks are in the urban pipeline, it’s obvious that new construction will have to go green in a big way if these targets are going to be realized. With over 2 billion square meters of new Chinese floorspace added last year alone, the challenge is daunting.

Sustainable construction in China, as in many other countries, is still in its infancy and faces many obstacles. To most real estate developers caught in the construction gold rush, the game is about erecting second-rate buildings as quickly and profitably as possible. Although China has 11 "eco-city" projects under construction and 140 building projects, few foreign experts feel these projects would pass a genuine international green test - involving low energy use, low cost, recycling water systems and "intelligent" integrated design and materials.

One of China’s most vaunted sustainable building projects is the eco-city of Dongtan, being built on the Manhattan-sized island of Chongming in the mouth of the Yangtze River, just north of Shanghai. According to Arup, the UK firm that designed Dongtan, and which is also working on a range of other high-profile China-based projects, the city’s population will swell from a few farmers and fishermen today to 80,000 by 2020, and up to 400,000 by 2050.

The delicate nature of Dongtan’s virtually pristine ecosystem has been one of the driving factors behind the city’s design. Arup plans to enhance the existing environment by returning agricultural land to its former wetland state, thereby creating a "buffer zone" between humans and nature and increasing biodiversity. By implementing the latest green building technology, Dongtan’s buildings will run entirely on renewable energy, and the city is expected to recover, recycle and reuse 90% of all its waste.

Opinion is still divided over whether Dongtan really will be as green as it claims. Dan Ilett, editor of London-based Greenbang magazine, comments, "Anyone who claims to be able to build a sustainable city had better be sure they know what they’re talking about, and there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered. Everyone knows the Chinese government doesn’t have such a great track record when it comes to the environment, and it’s entirely possible Dongtan is just another case of 'greenwashing' on a mammoth scale."

Other critics claim that local planners are more concerned with raising Dongtan’s profitability than ensuring sustainable development, and that the expensive eco-housing due to be built will force locals out and bring China’s wealthy elite in. Peter Head, the Arup director overseeing Dongtan, counters, "In order to be sustainable socially and economically, the city will need to be populated by a wide range of demographics. We don’t yet know how the residents will be selected as this is under the jurisdiction of the Shanghai and Chongming Island Governments. However, 30% of accommodation in the city will certainly be affordable housing."

Head continues, "The sustainable development model developed by the Shanghai Industrial Investment Corporation (SIIC) and Arup for Dongtan is directly relevant to cities, both new and old, around the world. Our intention is to create a sustainable, resource-efficient and culturally rich environment, a blueprint for sustainable urban development across China." Arup, SIIC, HSBC Bank and Sustainable Development Capital LLP (SDCL) have just formed a consortium to develop a funding model for Chinese eco-cities, and have helped found the Dongtan Institute for Sustainability at Shanghai’s Tongji University.

Despite the latent skepticism over large-scale projects like Dongtan, the trend toward sustainable buildings in China is nevertheless gaining momentum. In November 2005, the US Green Building Council (USGBC), an American NGO, presented awards to 10 Chinese real estate developers and government leaders for their "pioneering work in transforming the world’s largest building industry". The developers, representing some of China’s largest construction companies, had one thing in common: they were the first private sector companies to pursue the USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

The LEED Green Building Rating System is the internationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. It promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health - sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

In 2003, the Century Prosper Center, a 150,000 square meter twin office tower in Beijing’s CBD, was the first large commercial project in China to be registered for LEED. Another milestone was reached in 2005 when the Coastal Greenland Group took the decision to seek LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED ND) registration for a large mixed-use development, also in Beijing. In total there are now 50 construction projects across China that have applied for LEED certification.

There are plenty of people on hand to give China advice and financial help in the sustainability arena. Starting in 2002, and supported by the US Department of Energy, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), another American NGO, began work with the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) on constructing the Agenda 21 Energy-Efficient Office Building in Beijing. This "living building", which uses 70% less energy than similar government buildings and saves 10,000 tons of water a year through rainwater collection, is now finished, and was the first building in China to receive an LEED Gold rating in 2006.

George Bialecki, founder of the American NGO Alternative Energy Builders (AEB), feels energy efficiency is the area where green homes and offices can bring the biggest benefits in China. He comments, "Now there is a debate over which causes more pollution - a home or a car. Even applying conservative estimates and using a ratio of 1:1, we can see that if China’s next 100 million homes are green, with drastically reduced energy requirements, then we are preventing a pollution increase equivalent to that caused by 100 million new cars. This, in itself, would be an incredible achievement."

As part of a project authorized by China’s Ministry of Construction in 2003, the AEB is involved in construction of Future House USA, a showcase sustainable house being built on a site outside Beijing, along with eco-houses from seven other countries.

Changing ingrained behavior is always slow, and it’s too early to say whether sustainable construction can really help China meet its environmental goals. Eyes will remain focused on high-profile projects like Dongtan to see how the government’s green rhetoric fits in with the nation’s concern with economic development. Despite the many problems to be faced, however, it’s hoped that Chinese developers will gradually come to appreciate that sustainable construction is a true win-win proposition, and that making money and saving the planet don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Josh Adams is a freelance writer and photographer who has lived in Beijing for the last two years.


Anonymous Bygningsentreprise said...

Maybe? If we are looking for it, then we can see the answer if the sustainable construction help China meet its environmental goals.

2:55 AM  
Blogger Coach Factory said...

chanel handbags, true religion, coach outlet store online, polo ralph lauren, oakley sunglasses, tory burch outlet, michael kors outlet, christian louboutin outlet, louis vuitton outlet, gucci handbags, burberry outlet online, cheap oakley sunglasses, louboutin shoes, kate spade handbags, prada outlet, nike air max, nike free, michael kors outlet store, kate spade outlet online, louis vuitton outlet online, longchamp outlet, burberry outlet online, michael kors outlet online, nike shoes, michael kors outlet online, ray ban sunglasses, oakley vault, louis vuitton outlet, louis vuitton, christian louboutin shoes, michael kors outlet online, michael kors outlet online, coach outlet, jordan shoes, prada handbags, louis vuitton handbags, red bottom shoes, longchamp outlet online, tiffany and co jewelry, coach outlet, nike air max, ray ban outlet, polo ralph lauren outlet, coach purses, longchamp handbags

10:00 PM  
Blogger Coach Factory said...

longchamp, nike roshe run, barbour, scarpe hogan, oakley pas cher, north face pas cher, ray ban uk, longchamp, nike air max, hollister, hermes pas cher, michael kors uk, guess pas cher, air max, burberry pas cher, ray ban pas cher, louis vuitton uk, tn pas cher, sac michael kors, nike blazer pas cher, nike air max, ralph lauren, converse pas cher, timberland, abercrombie and fitch, true religion outlet, michael kors canada, lululemon, sac louis vuitton, hollister, mulberry, louis vuitton pas cher, new balance pas cher, nike air force, vans pas cher, lacoste pas cher, longchamp pas cher, north face, sac vanessa bruno, nike huarache, nike free, chaussure louboutin, air jordan, air max pas cher, ralph lauren pas cher, nike trainers, nike roshe, nike free pas cher, louis vuitton, true religion outlet

10:01 PM  
Blogger Coach Factory said...

uggs outlet, giuseppe zanotti, mcm handbags, canada goose outlet, marc jacobs outlet, soccer jerseys, rolex watches, ugg soldes, mont blanc pens, ferragamo shoes, birkin bag, ugg outlet, babyliss pro, north face outlet, north face jackets, p90x workout, moncler, moncler outlet, herve leger, reebok outlet, canada goose, wedding dresses, moncler, abercrombie and fitch, lululemon outlet, celine handbags, valentino shoes, ghd, jimmy choo shoes, insanity workout, new balance outlet, roshe run, uggs on sale, asics shoes, moncler, beats headphones, canada goose outlet, nfl jerseys, canada goose outlet, instyler ionic styler, mac cosmetics, ugg, canada goose pas cher, vans outlet, bottega veneta, soccer shoes, chi flat iron, ugg boots, canada goose uk, hollister

10:02 PM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

ninest123 09.29
louis vuitton outlet, cheap jordans, tory burch outlet, chanel handbags, prada outlet, michael kors outlet, michael kors outlet online, cheap oakley sunglasses, tiffany jewelry, nike outlet, ralph lauren outlet, uggs on sale, nike air max, christian louboutin, louboutin uk, nike free, uggs outlet, kate spade, oakley sunglasses, ray ban sunglasses, ralph lauren polo, oakley sunglasses, michael kors, replica watches, longchamp outlet, gucci handbags, prada handbags, replica watches, burberry factory outlet, uggs on sale, longchamp bags, uggs on sale, christian louboutin, ray ban sunglasses, louis vuitton, oakley sunglasses, louboutin shoes, ray ban sunglasses, louis vuitton outlet online, michael kors outlet store, nike air max, uggs outlet, michael kors outlet online, louis vuitton outlet, longchamp outlet, tiffany jewelry, burberry outlet, oakley sunglasses

3:48 AM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

sac guess pas cher, michael kors outlet online, coach purses, coach outlet, true religion outlet, north face pas cher, north face uk, hermes pas cher, michael kors, louboutin pas cher, jordan pas cher, nike free, vans pas cher, kate spade outlet, longchamp pas cher, nike air max uk, nike roshe uk, michael kors uk, nike air max, nike tn pas cher, nike roshe run pas cher, burberry pas cher, ralph lauren pas cher, true religion outlet, timberland pas cher, michael kors, lululemon outlet, new balance, coach outlet store online, longchamp soldes, nike free pas cher, vanessa bruno pas cher, nike air max uk, nike air force, hogan sito ufficiale, lunette oakley pas cher, polo ralph lauren uk, polo lacoste pas cher, true religion outlet, abercrombie and fitch, mulberry uk, nike blazer pas cher, abercrombie and fitch UK, nike air max pas cher, true religion jeans, hollister uk, converse, coach outlet, lunette ray ban pas cher

3:51 AM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

new balance shoes, insanity workout, softball bats, north face outlet, vans scarpe, abercrombie, nike air huarache, valentino shoes, hermes handbags, beats by dre, iphone cases, mont blanc, p90x workout, north face outlet, nike air max, hollister, mcm handbags, converse shoes outlet, polo ralph lauren, celine handbags, nike trainers uk, ghd hair, reebok outlet, gucci, salvatore ferragamo, nike roshe run, nfl jerseys, babyliss pro, ray ban, soccer shoes, jimmy choo outlet, converse, instyler ionic styler, lululemon outlet, bottega veneta, wedding dresses, mac cosmetics, vans outlet, nike air max, timberland boots, oakley, chi flat iron, asics running shoes, soccer jerseys, hollister clothing, herve leger, giuseppe zanotti, longchamp uk, abercrombie and fitch, louboutin, michael kors handbags

3:56 AM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

lancel, moncler outlet, louis vuitton, moncler, montre pas cher, moncler, louis vuitton, sac louis vuitton, toms shoes, moncler, canada goose jackets, thomas sabo uk, louis vuitton uk, michael kors handbags, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, bottes ugg pas cher, michael kors outlet, barbour, moncler, ugg uk, ugg pas cher, sac louis vuitton, marc jacobs, pandora jewelry, wedding dresses uk, supra shoes, canada goose uk, doke & gabbana, canada goose outlet, canada goose pas cher, swarovski uk, barbour jackets uk, swarovski jewelry, moncler pas cher, juicy couture outlet, coach outlet, moncler uk, replica watches, michael kors outlet online, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, pandora uk, links of london uk, moncler jackets, canada goose outlet, hollister, pandora charms, juicy couture outlet, canada goose, canada goose, pandora jewelry, canada goose jackets
ninest123 09.29

3:59 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home