Economic Development and Environmental Sustainability
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China Needs to Change Ideas to Push Forward Green Building

Building energy consumption, one third of the global energy consumption in total, has become one of the focal points in the low-carbon era. Experts and insiders from the 4th World Economic and Environmental Conference (the 4th WEC) in Qingdao made a common appeal: China needed to change its ideas to push forward green building.

Founded in 2008, the 4th WEC was co-organized by United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and International Ecological Economy Promotion Association(IEEPA). With the title of ¡°Low Carbon Mission during Economic Development Transition¡±, the conference attracted numerous representatives of economic and environmental protection organizations from home and abroad, government officials, experts, scholars and entrepreneurs and so on. He Keng, Vice Chairman of Financial and Economic Committee, NPC, and Che Shujian, Counselor of the State Council, delivered keynote speeches respectively.

Chen Yin, vice president, chief engineer of Modern Green Development Co., Ltd., made a speech in the Forum on Sustainable Development of Green Building and Property: ¡°there is no technical difficulties for China's green buildings, relevant technologies have been possessed by either building design institutes, building material manufacturers or construction enterprises. No market for China¡¯s green buildings, to a great extent, is due to its idea.¡±

In 2010, China's newly-added buildings covered an area of 2 billion square meters, of which residential housing covered 980 million square meters, and buildings which have passed green building inspection or certification represented less than 1/1000.

Most real estate developers acknowledged the role of green buildings, which have not yet been accepted by ordinary consumers and markets. As a result, real estate developers pushed green building into high-end market, and put up its price by publicizing the coziness and convenience, thus, it occupied a small proportion.

The combination of green buildings and high-end property also caused misunderstanding for general public. Tian Yuan, president of Switzerland Keller Technology Co., Ltd. Asia Area, made following view: ordinary consumers argued that the price of green building materials were 3-5% higher than general materials, as a matter of fact, the cost of green buildings may even drop by 30-40% if we equip buildings with sound circular system via scientific design".

He Keng, Vice Chairman of Financial and Economic Committee, NPC, insisted that idea change for China's green buildings shall be also applicable to architects and designers. The development core of green building and green economy shall be placed on economy rather than "green vanity". For example, if we intend to achieve energy conservation by solar energy, it is necessary to appraise whether such attempt can bring lower overall operating cost and higher long-term benefits, if not, blind support from local governments will be just the opposite to what one wishes.

At present, the comprehensive coordination capability of architects and designers were relatively low, who often paid less attention to the economic benefit and users' practical needs, and only emphasized expected results without considering investment amount and operating cost, as a result, massive building materials and energy were wasted, added Tian Yuan.

Building energy consumption occupied major proportion in the whole energy sources. A climate report released by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) showed that: 8.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide are generated from worldwide buildings each year, one third of that from global energy use and greenhouse gas emission. The figure is even expected to reach 15.6 tons by 2030.

There is an implicit consensus for experts that building construction belongs to traditional industry, and it will take some time to let ordinary consumers recognize and accept green building, and should not be accomplished in an action. At the same time, we need public opinion to lead the public to accept green, sustainable development concept, and need policy support like green building subsidy, with a view to let consumer feel the advantages of green building.

Recalculation of energy price may manifest the advantages of green buildings. Currently, the calculation of China's coal cost only consider the factors of exploration and transport costs, disregarding its resource tax and environmental tax. If such taxes were imposed, the lower operating cost of green buildings will be possible and attractive for ordinary consumers, and further change their traditional awareness upon green building, said Chen Yin.

I have paid a visit to several cities in China, and found that some technologies there like power generation by solar and photovoltaic energy were fairly excellent. However, we should attach equal importance to the management and scientific development in the course of boosting green building, and local organizations should adjust measures to local conditions, establish overall sustainable building development solutions rather than focus on single green technology, said Walter Meyer, Development Counsellor of Switzerland Embassy in China.

We shall change the objective of green building solutions, and shall not set higher uniform standard for all local urban planning and building design solutions. We shall adhere to low-carbon as principle, and reduce energy consumption according to local conditions, said Tu Jianjun, director of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace China Energy and Climate Project.

High-tech star building may truly bring developers and architects with gains of both honor and riches, however, they are far from the expectation of consumers. In the course of changing green building ideas, the government shall make great efforts starting from industry access standard and legislations, on the basis of market£¬establish stimulus policy, let green building enterprises take the lead during industrial development, said Chen Yin.

For instance, there were bank loans for major real estate enterprises. However, the government shall offer more policy and financial support on small-sized property enterprises to develop gr

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