Building design for Low Income and Middle Income Economies
Annual Review of Energy and the Environment
L. Glicksman, L. Greden and L. Norford October
Trends in the Chinese residential sector
Current Problems in China
Role of the consumer - do we want
Codes and Standards
Recent Efforts toward Sustainable Buildings
Current Policy in China Relevant to Residential
Building Energy Efficiency
Energy Conservation Law of 1997
Reform of the price for heating
Coal price deregulation
Experience with appliances
Suggested Policies to Drive Adoption of Sustainable
As environmental concerns become more important at
the local, regional, and global level, more attention must be paid
to the development of sustainable buildings. Sustainability encompasses
a wide range of attributes: building, site and urban design, energy
consumption, environmental pollution, material use, interior environmental
conditions, human comfort and productivity. The introduction of
sustainable considerations in new buildings should go beyond measures
for energy efficiency of individual buildings. The planning should
include issues such as access for elderly and handicapped and urban
design that fosters a sense of community.
Buildings consume a large fraction of resources and energy, and
produce a substantial amount of environmental pollutants. For example,
in the United States buildings consume over one-third of the total
energy and well over one half of the electricity in the country.
In regions of America that do not have substantial heavy industry,
such as New England, buildings consume one half of the total energy.
As rapidly developing countries continue to grow, they will consume
a larger share of global resources and produce substantial levels
of emissions that can possibly lead to environmental damage. In
many countries, these problems are compounded by the movement of
population to large megacities. In concentrated population areas,
depletion of land and local resources are coupled with high levels
of congestion, pollutants, and need for rapid construction of housing
for the burgeoning population. Figure 1 shows the estimated current
world consumption of energy and the projected consumption one century
hence (1). In the current situation, a large portion of the world's
energy is consumed by the relatively modest population in Western
Europe, North America, and Pacific Rim. Projecting future growth
with business as usual to the end of this century, the rapidly developing
countries such as China and India will be consuming a preponderance
of the world's energy resources. Based on this scenario the total
energy consumption of the world will increase from approximately
350 EJ (350 x1018 J) in 1990 to 1300 EJ in 2095. China (China, N.
Korea, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos and Kampuchea) alone is projected
to consume approximately 500 EJ by 2095, more than the entire current
world energy consumption. Given the major role that China will play
in future world's energy consumption and carbon emissions, the focus
of this paper will be on that country. In the buildings sector substantial
growth is currently taken place in China's urban regions. Means
to insure that the new residential buildings are built in a sustainable
fashion has a high priority.
Given China's heavy reliance on coal, as shown in the current and
projected levels by the US EIA, fig2, the large growth in the energy
consumption will lead to substantial increases in world carbon (2).
To insure a sustainable future for the world, it is important that
these developing countries follow a more environmentally conscious
path than the earlier developments in the Western world. These measures
should not and need not impede the attainment of comparable standards
of living. Although, at present, a majority of energy in developing
countries is devoted to industry, it can only be assumed that as
the standard of living improves a larger proportion of energy will
shift to buildings, as it has in the Western world. In 1990, China's
residential and commercial buildings accounted for 18 percent of
China's total energy consumption. As the per capita income and standard
of living improves, it can be expected that the fraction of energy
consumed by buildings in China will approach that of the developed
world, where it is roughly one third; ranging from twenty five percent
in Japan to the high thirties in Western Europe.
In 1990, only about 7 percent of China's energy consumption was
in the transportation sector. This is due to the concentration on
heavy industry in China. In addition, housing has traditionally
been supplied by the work unit and has been located close to the
work place. As new residential projects are developed in urban areas
far removed from the places of employment, this new urban development
will contribute to increased energy consumption for transportation
( ). Proper planning of the building sector must be at an urban
scale as well as for individual buildings.
1 Projections of the World Energy Use with "Business as Usual"
Figure 2 China's Carbon Emissions by Fuel
Figure 3 Fossil Fuel Carbon Emissions
Trends in the Chinese
There has been a rapid increase in the construction
of residential space especially in the urban areas of China, fig4
(5). Real estate companies have been formed to develop commercial
housing. In 1996 the total investment in commercial housing reached
175 billion yuan (USD 21.9 billion) and there were 21,000 real estate
companies with 700,000 employees (6). The real estate companies
appear to range from government arms to quasi private enterprises.
The combined urban and rural residential space newly built in 1996
exceeded 1 billion square meters. Assuming an average new residence
has a floor area approaching 100 square meters, we estimate the
yearly residential construction exceeds 10 million units. That rate
of construction is an order of magnitude greater than the current
US rate. The per capita living space has also increased, figure
5, although the urban per capita average is still less than 10 square
meters. Just as in developed countries, location is a prime consideration.
Some of the residents of new subsidized residences outside of Shanghai
encountered by the authors expressed a preference to return to their
previous housing located in the center of the city even though the
units were smaller. On the other hand, some of the more affluent
population preferred to live in more spacious garden developments
further from the city center.
The ownership of durable goods has increased rapidly in the urban
areas of China. A large proportion of urban households now have
fans, refrigerators, washing machines and color televisions, fig
6. By 1996, eighty percent of the TV's were color models. Even urban
households in the low-income levels have a large proportion of the
above appliances. The surge in durable goods ownership has led to
a rapid increase of electricity consumption, from 13 kWh per capita
In 1996 there were 11.6 air conditioners per 100 urban households
( ). China is now the world's largest producer of air conditioners.
Given the climate for many parts of China, the demand for improved
interior comfort during the summer is understandable. The summer
climate of Shanghai is similar to that of southeastern US. Hong
Kong has a tropical climate.
The ownership of air conditioners in urban areas is still predominately
in the middle and upper income households. However, in Guangdong,
the number of air conditioners was about 50 per 100 households.
In Shanghai there are approximately 80 air conditioners per 100
households in 1998, fig 8 (8). In the summer of 2000 the electricity
consumption for air conditioning in Shanghai is estimated to account
for approximately one quarter of the peak demand in that city, the
latter is estimated to reach 10,000 MW (9).
Although the size of new residential units has increased, the average
total residential energy use per capita has not increased appreciably
in the last ten years. This is, in part, due to the modest increase
in per capita living space, only about 25 percent in the last ten
years. The yearly construction of new residential units, which we
estimate of the order of 10 million units per year, represents only
roughly about 3 percent of the existing building units. Additionally,
the increased use of energy consuming appliances, especially electrical
appliances such as televisions, refrigerators, and air conditioners,
has been offset by a substitution of efficient fuels (LPG, kerosene,
or electricity of lighting) for inefficient fuels (wood, charcoal,
and coal). Therefore, the amount of energy actually used by the
people has increased but the final energy, as measured from calorific
values, has remained stable (10).
Space heating is estimated to consume more that 80 percent of the
total building energy use in China (11). In many urban areas, space
heating is supplied by district heating systems. Individual units
are not metered for space heating use and in many cases the residents
of large apartment complexes cannot adjust the heat supply since
turning off the supply to one unit also turns off the supply to
units above it. The cost of the heating is included in the rent
for the unit; sometimes the heating cost is billed on the basis
of the floor area of the unit. Both the rent and heating cost are
heavily subsidized by the work unit. The combination of these factors
presents a strong disincentive for conserving energy.
Previously, the Chinese government would not supply funds for space
heating installations in residential buildings located in regions
in the middle and downstream area of the Yantze River basin or regions
further south. In some of these regions the temperature is less
than or equal to 5 oC for two or three months of the year (12).
With increased income, Chinese consumers are demanding larger residential
units with greater personal comfort in winter and summer. As the
use of air conditioners, better lighting and other appliances increases,
electricity use for non-space heating will consume a larger fraction
of the total energy.
Currently, the energy consumption in a Chinese residential unit
is an order of magnitude lower than a US residential unit. As more
of the older housing stock is replaced with much larger units and
there is more use of air conditioners and higher winter temperature
settings, it is to be expected that the residential energy use will
increase. For example, in Chongqing, China's most populous municipality,
average household energy use increased by about seventy percent
between 1990 and 1994 (13). The new construction in China should
increase the average energy consumption toward the US figure. If
incentives are not put in place to encourage more energy efficient
designs, the newer Chinese residential units might well exceed the
US energy use per unit.
Figure 4 Urban Floor Space Built per Year
Figure 6 Major Durable Consumer Goods
Role of the consumer - do we want
Recently constructed residential buildings suffer from poor construction
quality. This manifests itself in little if any insulation in the
exterior envelopes, loose single glazed windows, shortened lifetimes
of materials, and little regard for buildings siting in large scale
developments to promote ventilation. In many ways, traditional buildings
in China were more environmentally friendly. They used building
mass and wide roof overhangs to shade windows and walls to limit
summer overheating. Proper site planning of buildings limited exposure
to severe winter winds and promoted more community interaction.
Typical new units the authors visited in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen
had floor areas approaching 90 to 100 square meters. The units have
marginally better construction than older units. Many new units
had poorly fitting windows and little, if any, insulation even in
Beijing where the winter climate is similar to the upper mid west
of the US.
The residents of many new buildings install air conditioners. The
energy use in summer is compounded by the lack of designs to minimize
interior heating, such as shading of windows from direct sunlight.
Most units have outdoor balconies that would serve as sun screens
in the summer. However, most residents close in the balconies with
permanent windows to create larger living spaces for the heating
season. In the summer, this creates a greenhouse space that substantially
increases air conditioning requirements, figs 9,10. (show photos)
Role of the consumer - do we want this here?
In China, new apartments are sold as "boxes," that is, the interior
is completely unfinished. This situation presents a dichotomy. On
one hand, the consumer has the opportunity to decrease personal
energy consumption by installing insulation before finishing the
walls or by buying energy efficient appliances. Incentive exists
to make such investments because the consumer is also the one paying
for energy consumption.
However, a common problem throughout the world is that consumers
must weigh the upfront investment costs with their perceived long
term savings and benefits. For example, in Beijing, where average
maximum temperature exceeds 30oC for approximately 40 days out of
the year, yearly operating costs of a single unit air conditioner
are an estimated 1280 RMB ($160) (electricity price of 0.8 RMB/kWh
($0.10/kWh), eight hours per day, consuming 5 kW of energy). This
is approximately equal to a single month's mortgage payment of approximately
1500 RMB ($181) (typical fifteen year mortgage) (Choi, 1998). Additionally,
the initial investment in an air conditioner is approximately 5000
RMB ($625). Any means to reduce air conditioning needs would have
a noticeable affect on a Chinese consumer's pocketbook.
There is a wide array of technical opportunities that could potentially
be of great benefit to the Chinese residential sector. They need
to be considered in an overall program that includes building design
and technology in the context of community needs. For example, as
buildings are made tighter to achieve higher energy efficiency,
a potential problem that is indoor air quality. Buildings with loose
fitting windows allow considerable flow of outside air. The airflow
helps to dilute any pollutants generated inside by traditional Chinese
cooking. In high efficiency, tight buildings this ventilation flow
is limited. Care must be taken to vent pollutants directly from
cooking areas and other sources to the outside. Alternatively, regenerative
heat exchangers must be used to achieve adequate ventilation while
maintaining good energy efficiency.
In many cases Western solutions and technology are not the right
answer in developing countries such as China. These technologies,
optimized for countries with high labor costs, a skilled workforce,
and mechanized production methods, are a mismatch in areas of the
world with plentiful unskilled labor and less-developed industries.
New designs and solutions must use locally available materials and
products. Construction methods must be easy to learn by relatively
inexperienced labor. Local tastes and life style have to be considered
in the design of individual buildings as well as large new communities.
Simple steps to improve buildings will yield substantial rewards.
These should be considered before more capital intensive advanced
technology. Some simple design goals such as natural ventilation
may require substantial background analysis. The resultant design
can then be made straightforward to execute.
China's building codes are categorized in two manners: 1) by
three zones based on heating needs and 2) into urban and rural areas.
The heating zone is the northern section of the country, including
Beijing, where heating of buildings is permitted during the winter
( ). The transition zone is approximately the middle third of the
country, including Shanghai, where there is significant demand for
space heating in the winter and space cooling in the summer. South
of the transition zone, including Guangdong, is characterized by
a hot climate where demand for cooling is significant.
The Ministry of Construction has authority over building energy
efficiency standards. No new national standards have been released
over the past two years. However, work has proceeded on local standards
and on developing new national standards. Currently, codes do not
exist for the southern zone or for rural areas. In the heating zone,
residential building energy codes are already in existence. In the
transition zone, provincial governments have begun developing standards,
under encouragement from the MOC. However, these standards are based
primarily on the heating zone standards and do not represent any
In the seventh five-year plan, 1986 to 1990, energy conservation
in buildings was initiated. Conservation goals and time horizons
were specified in the 1987 Energy savings design Standards for residential
Buildings (15). An energy conservation design standard was developed
that specified a fixed reduction in heat loss in newer building.
As Wirshafter points out, passage of a standard does not extend
beyond a ministry's own jurisdiction unless the standard is adopted
by the broader central government (16). The Ministry of Construction
had developed a fve percent tax incentive for energy efficient constuction.
However energy efficiency was not well defined; nearly all building
managers found some way to qualify. The end result was a negligible
increase in energy efficiency. The tax incentive was dropped two
Present building construction is also handicapped by prescriptive
building codes. For example, wall and windows standards are specified.
The design institutes who produce the construction documents for
buildings are assumed to be familiar with and to comply with the
building codes. Visits by the authors of several new housing developments
revealed serious construction flaws and inferior products. There
is little evidence that any post-construction inspections or tests
are carried out to ensure compliance. Two government agency engineers
responsible for energy efficiency policy promulgation as well as
building inspections admitted that they only have done a few inspections
of new buildings each year.
The present codes need to be supplanted by more enlightened codes
that are performance based, requiring builders to achieve an overall
performance while allowing latitude in the individual building systems
and designs used. However, development of enlightened building codes
will be fruitless unless they are enforced. At present, the issue
of enforcement is much more pressing than the development of new
codes. Equally important is a consumer education program with emphasis
on key attributes of sustainable buildings. Independent agencies
or companies who can aid the consumers are required for this to
succeed. Architects and builders also need more education about
proper designs and technical means to achieve energy efficiency,
comfort and good indoor air quality.
One national code is the requirement that each residential unit
have at least one window that receives one hour of direct sunlight
at the winter solstice. This can lead to reduction in overcrowding
of buildings and possibly have a positive influence on indoor air
quality. However, the rule for winter sunlight must be coupled with
many other equally important requirements for the overall building
and site design to achieve the most beneficial results. In some
residential developments the winter sunlight rule has led to a wide
spaced collection of individual tall towers; a plan not unlike some
of the failed low income housing developed in the US fig 11,12.
Enforcement is of primary concern for building energy efficiency.
Some codes exist, but it is left up to the Design Institutes (i.e.
architectural firms) to be aware of the codes and design accordingly.
No real enforcement mechanism is in place. What are the reasons
for this lack of enforcement? First, vertical structural tensions
in the organization of the Chinese government allow for great disparity
between how the central governments expect firms and local government
bodies to behave and how they actually do behave. Local officials
theoretically must follow the central government, however funding
and career support is typically controlled locally, so much more
influence is held at the people's level. Second, local authorities
are typically responsible for enforcement of the national and sub
national regulations; however, local authorities and governments
often have financial stakes in companies that might be affected
by environmental regulations (17). This suggests that when environmental
regulations are seen as in conflict with economic development, enforcement
and implementation are difficult.
Efforts toward Sustainable Buildings
The building sectors in developing countries share several characteristics
important to policy design. Rapid growth or transition to a market
economy creates a dynamic economic environment with little history
to learn from. The disproportionate distribution of wealth must
be addressed when balancing who will pay for investments. Furthermore,
financial markets must be developed to provide for such investments.
Along with the development of a financial market, the ability and
desire to hold debt must transform. Finally, energy prices in developing
countries often do not reflect true costs, thereby creating an inefficiency
in the operation of a market.
Take China for example. Housing in China is transforming from its
Soviet style, public good personality to a market system in which
developers are encouraged to sell for a profit and residents are
encouraged to own their homes. This transition creates a first generation
of home buyers. Although the present state of the market is far
from maturity, the move to a market system means that each consumer
will have economic incentive to consider the relevant aspects for
However, China's macro economy is riddled with incentives to ignore
or undervalue investments in energy efficiency or to view such investments
as too risky (18). Examples include underdeveloped capital markets
and chronic inflation or deflation. Furthermore, for some enterprises,
simple survival compels nonstop output. This is especially a problem
in highly decentralized industries such as building materials. A
great deal of obsolete and deteriorating equipment remains in operation
in such industries (19). A large, deteriorating housing stock presents
Barriers to widespread adoption of sustainable buildings evidenced
in China and common to many developing countries include limited
product availability, lack of information and training, split pricing
incentives, dynamic economies, disproportionate incomes, and uncertainties
in technical claims and future energy prices. The key to implementing
residential energy efficiency in the long term is to demonstrate
to people that energy efficient investments perform as promised:
providing increased comfort while simultaneously reducing costs.
Although people claim to value environmental quality, it is often
the case that they will not sacrifice their own comfort, income,
or perceived quality of life to otherwise make the necessary investment.
Energy efficient investments must prove themselves, especially since
they often require a larger initial capital outlay than the alternative.
Effective policy must be designed for the needs the stakeholders.
Stakeholders in the relevant housing market include occupants, potential
occupants, developers, design teams, energy suppliers, and policy
makers. A critical analysis of each stakeholder's needs and frames
yields valuable information for policy design.
Occupants and potential occupants comprise the demand side of the
market. In China, two primary ideology barriers are encountered
in the transformation to a market system.. First, Chinese households
are adverse to debt, quite the opposite of most Americans. The idea
of obtaining a mortgage to buy a house opposes the traditional Chinese
norm. Perhaps as the notion of holding assets is learned, aversion
to debt will fade. Second, Chinese people are accustomed to housing
and related services, such as heating, as a welfare privilege. The
idea of paying for such essentials is not looked favorably upon.
One piece of evidence supporting this is the low rate of collection
for heating fees, only sixty percent in 1999 (20). Additionally,
if occupants are not able to control the amount of heat provided,
aversion to paying for heat is likely to continue.
There are studies underway at present to gauge the Chinese consumer's
receptivity to sustainable design features. As the number of privately
owned units increase and residents become responsible for the operating
and maintenance costs the homebuyer should become more concerned
with such design features. The importance of energy efficiency should
increase if space-heating costs can be made to reflect actual costs
to individual units. This requires the solution of technical issues
such as means to meter district heating supplies to individual units
in urban areas. Equally important is the need for a plan to introduce
real market levels to heating costs without major economic dislocation
for lower income families.
Developers and designers comprise the supply side of the residential
market. Arguably, the most important factors to energy consumption
are decided in the design and construction phases of the building
and entire site. Investments in design and construction offer many
benefits - decreased load on utilities, increased comfort and decreased
expenditures for occupants, and less air pollution emissions resulting
from decreased energy consumption. The underlying problem is how
to get those responsible for the decisions in design and construction
investment to care.
In a market system, one important factor is the firm's perception
of the customer's marginal valuation of additional energy saving
features. A developer is most likely to only make an investment
that will be visible to the consumer and warrant asking for a higher
price. Firms may not have knowledge or understanding of energy efficient
technologies and construction methods. On the positive side, developers
may be able to use energy efficiency as a competitive advantage.
Overall, lack of information on all fronts hinders the market to
act as a driving force for energy conservation. This is where policy
Residential building developers in China are receptive to the inclusion
of sustainable features in their new projects. However, it is difficult
for the developers and their designers to define what this entails.
Designers are not well versed in means to achieve energy efficiency.
Proper building materials such as insulation systems are not well
developed for traditional wall construction systems used in China.
On the other hand, some developers we have encountered are eager
to learn and are willing to try new products. That said, the bottom
line is similar to the Western world, the need to minimize first
costs. More enlightened developers would allow at most a five to
ten percent premium on building costs for energy efficient features.
Policy in China Relevant to Residential Building Energy Efficiency
Policy must play a role in driving the exploitation of residential
energy conservation measures. To date, the most significant achievements
in residential energy conservation have been achieved through standards
and labeling programs for energy efficient appliances. The most
significant impediments to realization of residential energy conservation
results are slow adoption of reformed energy prices, lack of enforcement
of building codes, and few educational initiatives.
Law of 1997
The intentions of China's Energy Conservation Law (ECL), approved
on 1 November 1997, are as follows (21):
promote energy conservation activities throughout society,
improve energy efficiency and increase economic benefits thereof,
protect the environment,
ensure economic and social development, and
meet the needs of people's livelihood. Relevant to building energy
efficiency, the law states that the government should develop polices
and plans that ensure rational energy utilization and strengthen
educational activities to increase public awareness of energy conservation.
Although the ECL does not give clear guidance on the extent of regulations
or the specific goals that are to be achieved, it can be viewed
as a tool for pushing energy efficiency as something that is looked
at favorably from the national government.
Typical to federal law, the ECL gives little guidance for implementation,
a necessary characteristic for the law to have been passed. Development
of specific measures is left to agencies of the central and local
governments. Putting the responsibility for implementation into
these hands allows local economic and environmental conditions to
be better accounted for. The Ministry of Construction (MOC) is the
responsible central agency for building construction and codes.
Provisions that affect the energy users relating to residential
energy consumption include keeping and submitting statistics on
energy consumption, displaying energy conservation product specification
labels, developing energy conservation plans, implementation of
energy efficiency measures in institutions and schools, and complying
with building design, construction, and decoration standards. The
State Bureau of Statistics is responsible for statistical gathering
and reporting at the national level.
Provisions for technical innovation relating to residential energy
consumption include the development of improved thermal and insulating
performance in buildings (heating, cooling, and lighting), promotion
of energy efficient lighting, and encouraging research institutions,
universities, enterprises, and individuals to promote energy efficiency
projects. The ECL and all three provinces studied included provisions
for the improved building performance; a promising sign only if
some enforcement mechanism is in place. The Zhejiang regulations
for technical innovation specifically state that the Departments
of Construction (above county level) shall adopt measures to encourage
new technologies, processes, equipment and materials and promote
energy efficient buildings and organize demonstration projects for
this purpose (22).
the price for heating
In pre-reform China, prices of all energy products were under unified
state control and the products were allocated according to plans.
Multi-track pricing and partial liberalization was introduced in
the 1980's. Energy prices, beginning with coal, were to a great
extent freed up, in parallel with important new reforms in taxation,
finance and other areas, in the early 1990's (23).
Pricing and billing of centralized space heating in China are both
in need of reform if market incentives are to drive energy conservation.
Currently, consumers either receive heat as a welfare commodity
or are billed for heat based on occupied floor space. They do not
pay for the amount of heating energy actually used; therefore incentives
do not exist to reduce heat energy consumption. Other disadvantages
of the current system include low comfort level due to over or under
heating, increased pollution due to unneeded burning of fuel (primarily
coal), and low fee collection rate. Building-area-based billing
for heat is a bottleneck for energy savings.
The primary barrier to pricing reform is lack of experience. Pricing
for heat under the current mode is a black box based on building
area. A pricing system based on amount of heat consumed must be
developed. This also requires methods to measure and monitor heat
delivery. The primary barrier to billing reform is ideology change.
Without having to directly pay for heating fees in the past, consumers
tend to think of space heating as a kind of welfare rather than
merchandise. The Institute of Building Environment and Service Tsinghua
University and the World Bank are currently working on a three-phase
program to use a combination of market, technology, and institution
to promote the pricing and billing reform of centralized space heating
in China (24).
One reason for high unit energy consumption is that energy prices
are too low and do not accurately reflect production costs (25).
When fuel prices are lower than production costs, subsidies are
needed to maintain production levels. However, subsidization is
costly for governments and tax payers, leads to inefficiencies,
and discourages innovation. Lack of capital hinders the ability
to expand energy production, which then constrains economic and
technological development. This scenario describes China's coal
based energy system. Energy is wasted when low energy costs discourage
conservation. China has begun to address this problem by reducing
subsidies to the coal industry to the tune of 50% over the past
decade (26). To increase the effectiveness of the market, the decrease
in subsidy must be passed on to the consumer in the form of increased
prices that better reflect the production cost of the energy.
Encouraging the use of energy efficient appliances requires that
standards be introduced and that consumers are aware of energy efficiency.
Minimum efficiency standards either leave consumers with more efficient
options to choose from or require that all options meet a certain
efficiency level. Energy efficiency standards for refrigerators
and ballasts for fluorescent lamps are scheduled to go into effect
this year (2000) ( ). Energy efficiency standards for air conditioners
are currently in progress.
Several energy efficiency programs have been introduced in China
with mixed success to date. In the China Green Lights program, two
major barriers are the high initial cost of more efficient technologies
and poor quality of some of the products manufactured in China.
Screw-in compact florescent lights have been observed to fail very
prematurely, negating the life cycle savings and losing consumer
acceptance (28). The recently initiated CFC-Free Energy Efficient
Refrigerator project aims to improve the energy efficiency of Chinese
refrigerators through a series of market-oriented measures for manufacturers
and consumers (29). Quality assurance is of primary importance for
energy efficiency incentive programs to be successful, an important
lesson for designing similar programs for buildings.
Policies to Drive Adoption of Sustainable Buildings
Policy options are plentiful and will be most effective if implemented
as part of a portfolio of programs. Policy must serve to create
financial institutions, building codes and provisions for enforcement,
and pricing of energy that reflects costs and externalities. Perhaps
the most effective course of action is for demonstration projects
to be built, tested by a reputable source, and publicized. This
would serve to minimize perceived risk. Demand side management (DSM)
programs, in which utilities offer subsidies for such investments,
offer yet another way to leverage incentives for energy efficient
building design. DSM programs operate on the principle that the
benefits of investments in energy efficiency outweigh the costs
of expanding electricity supply under increased environmental pressure
and fluctuations in loads. Finally, education and awareness concerning
the comfort, health, and cost saving benefits of sustainable buildings
must be proliferated through public service announcements, workshops,
and media coverage.
The most important part of the policy package, because it serves
as the foundation for all other program aspects, is development
and enforcement of building codes for energy efficiency. They serve
to educate, provide a baseline for monitoring, and offer a standard
for quality. Commanding attention to codes through enforcement is
a way of forcing such considerations on developers and architects.
Additionally, with a solid, trusted code system for energy efficiency,
market signals can play an important role in the adoption of sustainable
practices. Developers who adopt the codes early can create a competitive
advantage and possibly ask for a premium price. In parallel, public
awareness for sustainable buildings and the associated quality aspects
must grow. Public service announcements and media attention to demonstration
projects will educate occupants about the environmental and quality
issues associated with their homes. By guiding consumer behavior
in a young market, demand for energy efficient investments can be
created and sustained.
The introduction of sustainable considerations in new buildings
should go beyond measures for energy efficiency of individual buildings.
The planning should include issues such as access for elderly and
handicapped and urban design that fosters a sense of community.
1. fig 4, Edmonds et al 1995
3. Edmunds et al 1995
4. Jones, D.W. (1991), 'How urbanization affects energy-use in developing
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5. China Statistical year Book 1997, p 324
6. Zhang, The Impact of housing Privatization in China, Environment
and Planning B: Planning and Design, 1999, vol. 26, pp. 593-604
7. China statistical yearbook
8. Impact on Urban Energy and Environment from High Rise Buildings
Air conditioning in Shanghai, Technical Report, Prof. Long Weiding,
Tongji U, Shanghai, March 2000
10. United Nations (1991), Sectoral Energy Demand Studies: Application
of the End-Use approach to Asian Countries, Energy Resources Development
Series, No. 33, p. 44.
11. see Lara's ref, Institute of Building Environment and Service,
Tsinghua U, 2000
12. Siwei and Youchen, Design of Energy-efficient Residential Building
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