China: Green Building Opportunities Boom

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China’s multi-decade development boom has resulted in the environmental depletion and in attempt to tackle this, the country is fast adopting concerted measures while also bringing export opportunities to members of Australia’s sustainability and green building sectors.

China’s Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD) released the first Green Building Evaluation Criteria in 2006 as an efforts to incite the development of sustainable and efficient built environments. Green Building space in China has rapidly grown by 154% since 2008, and according to a global real estate consultancy CBRE the country has taken the lead fro the US in terms of green gross floor area.

Over the following decade, the government support has spurred little short of a green building boom in the Middle Kingdom. As of last year, the total area of recently completed green buildings in China has reached 100 million square metres.

Ongoing efforts have been undergone by local governments throughout China to spur green building growth within their own jurisdiction, according to Liu Bing, Shanghai-based Trade Commissioner at the Australian Trade Commission. These include the Green Building Three Year Action Plan (2014-2016) developed by the Shanghai Green Building Council (SGBC) which points out requirement that a one to three star rating be applied to all new buildings in Shanghai, and the provision of green building subsidies of 60 yuan per square metre of floor space up to a maximum of 6 million yuan per project.

A broad range of sectors where opportunities are likely to arise as a result of China’s ongoing development and key of opportunities will emerge alongside the development of China’s green building industry also pointed by Liu. These include a range of services and technologies as follows :

  • Architecture & design theory and green building practices
  • Operation and supervision of energy conservation in large public buildings and energy conservation services markets
  • Water and wastewater management
  • Special eco-technologies for green building, such as geothermal heat pumps
  • Advanced building cooling equipment, such as maglev chillers
  • Systems to enable the recycling of building materials
  • Renewable energy sources

Penetrating the Chinese market has its own challenges for green building practitioners from Australia, however. One of them is the disparity in green building criteria between China and the rest of the world, and the need for overseas entrants to adapt to a different set of domestic standards as well as disparate local conditions.

Liu points out that International standards are not often recognised in the market and suppliers are required to adhere to Chinese standards. Although China introduced LEED and BREEAM back in 2005, the country has developed its own green building standard – the Three Star System – for both residential and public buildings respectively.

Australian entrants will likely to also be challenged by the ground advantage enjoyed by domestic companies, as the local companies have been quick to innovate and improve on the existing available technologies, such as integrated solar systems for export around the world.

However, some companies from Australia and elsewhere are already enjoying success in the China’s green building and sustainability market. For example, BlueScope Steel, the Australian steel manufacturer has managed to create China’s first 3-star rated industrial green building in the historic central Chinese capital of Xi’an within only 18 months.

Aurecon, an Australian engineering, management, design, planning, project management and consulting company, designed the bioclimatic transparent façade of Shanghai Tower – the tallest skyscraper in China. The façade has gained acknowledgement and LEED Gold pre-certification from the United States Green Building Council, as well as a Green Three-Star China Award from the China Green Building Committee.

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