China green building and sustainable building

China sees the need for a sustainable building. For the country, it’s not just an interesting idea, but a way to control energy usage in crowded and constantly expanding urban areas.

China is the world’s largest construction market, with half of the new buildings constructed annually worldwide are located in China. However, only 4 per cent of these buildings were constructed according to energy efficiency standards.

Green building in China: government policy

A national 3-star China National Green Building rating system has been launched in 2006 to implement sustainable building urgently. The Chinese green building revolution is relatively young. There are challenges that the country is dealing with, including low level of regulations and standards, problematic implementations at local level, lack of awareness and transparency in related public and private sector, lack of expertise of integrated sustainable building design and construction among engineers, designers and constructors, among others.

China also consumes one third of the world’s increasingly endangered water supplied for its building constructions. Recent study also showed that constructions eat up half of the country’s national energy. Moreover, a huge amount of these buildings need a sustainable redesign and retrofitting technologies.

Investment opportunities in sustainable building in China

The promotion of green construction will be one of China’s main priorities, in view of its 12th five-year plan. The country is placing greater emphasis on aggressive energy saving and environmental protection. Under this framework are the following areas of investment opportunities, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

  • Application of new energies and energy conservation solutions in architectural design;
  • Eco-friendly and energy efficient urban planning designs;
  • High quality and high technology green building materials;
  • Environmental protection technologies and products;
  • Engineering consultancy provides total energy conservation solutions;

China government investment and development plans

According to the Chief Executive China magazine, the following cities are the top 10 as the most potential future 2nd tier cities: Suzhou, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Qingdao, Ningbo, Xiamen, Dalian, Tianjin and Wuhan.


On a government-to-government level, Sino-Singapore Eco-city is the first eco-city cooperation. It requires its buildings to conform to stringent energy efficiency standards. It also planned to allow for up to 90 per cent public transport, cycling, and walking. It also ensures that there will be advanced water saving and waste management systems, and, to enhance biodiversity, the remaining wetlands around the city will be protected.


Dongtan project which served as a flagship of the Chinese government was launched in 2005. The city is located outside Shanghai at the mouth of the Yangtze River. The design of the city consists of zero-energy buildings (ZEBs); a greenhouse gas neutral transport system; a self-sufficient water system; and a fully renewable energy system. Shanghai Industrial Investment Corporation (SIIC) and British engineering frm Arup has developed the project.


Back in 1997, the National Environment Protection Bureau (EPB) recommended Wuhan to joining the global Sustainable Cities Program. The Sustainable Wuhan Project (SWP) aims to promote an environmentally sustainable development in the municipality of Wuhan. The project will accomplish this by enhancing the efficiency of use and re-use of environmental resources and by reducing environmental degradation. The plan was to work out an ecological construction and environmental protection of an eco-city cluster. The construction involved 459 environment programs and a total investment of RMB 512.8 billion.

Future of green and ecological building in China

Green building has grown in popularity in China since its recognition, with gold rating, by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Still, sustainable buildings make up a small percentage in China’s construction market that is more interested in maximizing profits and lowering building costs, compromising sustainable design and energy efficiency considerations.

With increasing environmental awareness and central government policies, China is on the way to adopting more green building practices in the coming years—and reduce its overall energy use.

According to the PRC National Bureau of Statistics, developers in China have constructed 1.9 billion square meters of floor space and invested $983 billion in property development. Regulators in the country have focused on implementing green and energy efficient practices in both new and established buildings.

Current challenges of sustainable building

Despite the LEED certification system used, the green building concept does not always make it to the Chinese market. Lack of understanding of green building and misaligned incentives are the prime reasons why the adoption of green building has slowed down.

Builders often base their construction decisions on short-term costs, such as material and labor cost, instead on energy efficiency or green building techniques which offer long term savings.

“A green building can pay for itself,” says Yingchu Qian, head of sustainability business in Asia for Faithful+Gould, a construction consulting firm.

Qian has worked on around 120 green building projects in China, and he says that the savings from energy efficient practices and the premium developers can charge for green buildings helps investors make back any additional money spent on construction.

Impact of urbanisation on infrastructure in China

The growing urbanization of the country has forced the market to cope with new business styles, spurring the Chinese government into prioritizing infrastructure development. China’s government believes that a modern economy lives on reliable transportation, electricity and enhanced communications. Towards China’s economic growth, goals have been set in tune with this ideology which is predicted to manifest completely by the year 2020.

Presently state-owned companies dominate the Chinese infrastructure industry. The government controls these companies while they receive support from the various state banks: China Communication Construction Co., Ltd, China National Building Material Company, China Railway Engineering Corporation, China State Construction International Holdings Ltd, etc.

New development trends in the Chinese infrastructure industry have been triggered by active players from the international scene.

Here are a couple of the promising development trends in the reformation of the Chinese market:

  • China is increasing its investments worldwide, participating in outbound enterprises and offering high concentration to the construction businesses, while improving transportation infrastructure.
  • In 2002, the Regulations on Administration of Foreign–Invested Construction Enterprises allowed foreign investors to establish companies in the country. This continues till date and has become a major contributor towards the country’s economical growth.

China key infrastructure construction projects

China’s central and local government, state-owned enterprises and private sectors have joint forces to support key projects in infrastructure development. This development has the potential to push China’s economy into the global business spotlight:

Here are a few of the projects set for infrastructural development:

  • The Yantai-Dalian undersea tunnel that runs under the Bohai Sea. This 5-year plan (2016-2020) will connect Dalian in Liaoning Province to Yantai in Shandong.
  • The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge consists of set of tunnels and bridges aimed at connecting the prominent cities of Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai. This is an ongoing connectivity project.
  • The South-North Water Transfer project will make use of China’s three largest rivers as water suppliers for the Northern Area.
  • The High-speed Rail project I covering 33 regions in China. The continuous growth of daily commuting could imply an addition/improvement to this project.
  • Transportation infrastructure development has encouraged the realization of the Civil Aviation Airport project. This new airport is expected to serve Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei.

China’s infrastructural development plans can provide huge opportunities for businesses around the world. The entrepreneurial spirit of the Chinese and their global competence also serves as an opening for potential joint ventures with foreign businesses. Alliance experts can offer you assistance in finding the right agent or distributor and in handling and establishing an enterprise in the Chinese infrastructure industry.

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