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China Daily Website

A lot to bring to the table

Updated: 2013-06-22 09:00
By Cecily Liu and Yang Yang ( China Daily)

Pilot projects like Jinshan are becoming popular in China because the country's new leadership is emphasizing sustainable urbanization as a key government aim.

In January, the State Council issued a Green Building Action Plan with ambitious targets, including adding more than 1 billion square meters of green building floor area by 2015, 14 times the area at the end of last year.

But Jaya Skandamoorthy, director of market development and innovation at the Building Research Establishment in the UK, said awareness of the benefits of green building is still lacking in China, even within the construction industry.

To help China raise awareness and understanding of sustainable construction, Skandamoorthy's team is now working with China's largest developer, Vanke, to build Green Building Park in Beijing, a public space that displays leading building technology for both practitioners and the general public to see.

Skandamoorthy said the park's visitor center is designed to comply with Europe's green building standard, the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method, and China's Three Star Green Building Standard.

"We don't want to just take our standards to China," Skandamoorthy said.

"Instead, we want to take good industry practice to China but adapt them to China's existing standards."

The UK's building standards are performance-based, he said, meaning a building's performance in its specific environment will be assessed. In comparison, Chinese building standards are prescriptive, meaning regulations exist for specific material or methods that must be used.

Encouragingly, many European companies are already taking best industry practices to China, one example being Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects of Denmark.

Chris Hardie, associate partner and head of SHL Shanghai office, said his team is now working on a project in Shanghai in which the materials proposed for a facade have an advanced coating that cleans the air around the building.

If the proposal gets the go ahead, Hardie's team believes the environmental benefit of the facade alone would be the equivalent of planting almost 3,000 trees on site.

Another example is the architecture firm Kazia Li Design Collaborative in the United States, which has developed a planning framework for its architects called DEEP, which stands for four factors needed to achieve sustainability - design, environment, economics and planning.

Founder and principal designer Clay Vogel said it is important to design sustainable buildings in China because he expects China's energy consumption habits to become more wasteful as Chinese citizens increasingly realize what living comfortably means.

A lot to bring to the table

Clay Vogel, founder of Kazia Li Design

"In China when you enter a building in the winter, the heating is not usually on and everybody tends to be wearing their outer jacket, which is green," Vogel said.

"However, it won't be long before the Chinese understand (the idea of comfort) and begin to push building owners to switch the heating on, so buildings will need to be designed with better quality weather stripping and other features to keep the heat indoors."

Challenges China faces in building a sustainable urban environment have gained attention from European academic institutions, one example being Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment at University College London.

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