Green buildings have established themselves as a key element in the future development of the Chinese economy, especial as 25% of energy consumed in China is attributed to buildings. Green building industry’s expansion is occurring very first: while the first green building was built in 2005, there are today 3046 buildings rated as green. The phenomenon is estimated to reach large scale. By 2020, there will be 6.5 billion m2 of urban green buildings in China. China was one of the first countries to develop the concept of green buildings and the city with the highest green space per capita in the world is Chinese: Shenzhen. The city has the highest green building acreage per person in China, 1.31 square meter. Other cities in China are all below 1 square meter.
Beijing and Shanghai even have more green space than Chicago. However, those buildings are still far from being common in Chinese streets. 95% of buildings in China are high energy consuming meaning the industry’s potential growth is extremely high as 99% of buildings aren’t energy saving.
Green buildings: part of China’s developing strategy
As the Chinese government is making large efforts to reduce pollution and become greener, the committee of construction energy saving declared the implementation of green buildings in China in now treated as a country developing strategy. Indeed, the development of green buildings in China is bound to boost the development of power saving industry too. The government is planning that every new building out of two will follow the green standards by 2020 and 30% of the total buildings will be green. This will enable to enhance society production of 500 billion RMB and would create at the same time 5 million additional jobs.
Innovation is improving green building’s performance, it is believed that the energy rate of green buildings can reach 58%. According to the organization of LEED (Local Economic and Employment Development), green buildings can save 40% of water, 70% of deserting material and reduce carbon emission by around 35%. Green buildings performance aren’t deniable, for example, the province of Jiangsu saved 13 million tons of coal by reaching 1/5 of its total coal saving plan. Coal consumption is a main issue in China so maintaining coal consumption under control is essential for public health.
A Change in Behavior
Last year, 2500 environmental building projects were undertaken and the Chinese government published a new version of green buildings standards. Under the new requirements people are debating on the costs and rewards resulting from those buildings and features. It is commonly estimated that energy is systematically saved under the condition the building is used over a long period of time, a lifespan of 50 years. The significant energy saving is tied to an increase in costs, the global leader in real estate service CBRE estimated additional costs for green buildings below 4% however the LEED says those vary between 0.4% and 12.5%. Experts claim the 2% additional cost is enough to reach standards. Constructors are relieved by the CBRE latest report stating that in big cities of China, green buildings are sold at a price 1.5 to 25.7% compared to other buildings.
Green buildings are moving seeing new dynamics. Today, 80% of domestic green projects are located in the top 10 Chinese provinces showing the potential growth expected by less developed cities of China. Green building growth will also be accompanied by the development of larger amount of green commercial buildings since today only 30% of total green buildings are commercial. Over the last few years, the Chinese have been developing a real interest in “green buildings” but they are meeting some obstacles and interesting challenges.
Challenge: A misunderstood concept for green buildings in China
Green products in China are becoming increasingly popular, paying additional amounts for green products is welcomed by more Chinese customers as it improves health and embodies high quality lifestyle in large cities. Green buildings are finding more difficulty to attract client because the concept seems to be misunderstood. Last year, the newest version of green buildings standards were published by the government to clarify the meaning of green building. The Chinese tend to believe green buildings are only high-end buildings with better facilities since developers don’t always go to the end of the concept. Some others consider those buildings as a long term investments with no direct rewards and aren’t aware of the more natural and more comfortable living environment displayed immediately by green buildings in China. This is why in the coming years, green building developers will need to accompany their campaign with strong marketing but those are still lacking motivation to build and are demanding for higher governmental subsidies.
The construction industry has been booming for many years in China, but this period is over. Giants are searching for new opportunities to face the slowing down demand. The opportunity of green buildings is suggesting an ideal reconversion and is being embraced by most large actors. According to a, professor at the University of Sheffield Kangjian, “The real green building is building have a balance of nature, human and expenditure. Is something that can benefit people right now.”