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Kevin Mo’s Blog

China Launches National Green Building Label Campaign

Kevin Mo

Posted June 25, 2009 in Green Enterprise, Greening China, Solving Global Warming

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On this surprisingly steamy, 102-degree day in Beijing, more than 400 green building experts from across China gathered in a hotel to launch the 3-star Chinese Green Building Label campaign.

Two years ago, China's Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development ("MOHURD", formerly known as MOC) released an official Chinese Green Building Evaluation Standard. Little progress has been made since then except for the release of several supplementary technical guidelines and the establishment of a management office. Only ten designs have been awarded the Green Building Design Label (GBDL), one of the two labels assigned by the standard. The other label is the Green Building Label (GBL), for buildings that have been occupied for at least one year. No building has obtained a GBL yet. However, in the past two years, more than 100 Chinese buildings have been registered for LEED certification.

The Chinese Green Building System is made up of six components: land efficiency, energy efficiency, water efficiency, resource efficiency, environment quality and operational management. Each component has mandatory items, regular items and premium items. A project receives one point when it satisfies one regular or premium item requirement. The scoring system is more similar to that of NAHB National Green Building Standard than to that of LEED. The star level is decided by the minimum score of each component, not the total scores. For example, the residential evaluation table is as follow:

  

.

Land

Energy

Water

Resource

Env.

Operations

.

Star level

Regular score

Regular score

Regular score

Regular score

Regular score

Regular score

Total premium score

4

2

3

3

2

4

0

★★

5

3

4

4

3

5

3

★★★

6

4

5

5

4

6

5

 

To scale up the existing program, MOHURD launched this campaign to officially allow provincial green building offices to administer the 1-star and 2-star labels, as the system had been originally designed; its own office would only evaluate applications for the 3-star label, the highest and most prestigious one. The ten designs certified so far include four 3-star, two 2-star and four 1-star labels. Currently, only residential buildings, office buildings and hotels are eligible to apply for the label.

Although regulated by a government agency, the Chinese green building program is a voluntary program that offers no incentives. GBDL is effective for one year and only comes with a certificate, and GBL is good for three years and is awarded with both a certificate and a plaque. The application fee includes a registration fee of 1,000 yuan ($140) and an estimated evaluation fee of 40,000 to 50,000 yuan ($5,700 to $7,100).

Mr. Yiming Chen, Director of the Science and Technology Division under MOHURD, made a concise opening speech to the 400 provincial representatives who will shoulder the evaluation responsibility and are key to the success of the campaign. He admitted that Chinese green building development is still at an early stage, especially in view of the following facts:

  • Lack of technological integration
  • The standard needs improvement and expansion to cover more public buildings (e.g., hospitals, shopping malls, and movie theaters, etc.)
  • Most green buildings are in large cities, and the number of green buildings is still small compared to the large stock of the Chinese buildings.

He emphasized that building energy efficiency was the top priority for green buildings in China. A green building must first and foremost be energy efficient. In the LEED rating system, points lost in the energy section can be recouped from other sections.

Local green building standards must be in line with the national standard, says Mr Chen, if there is a conflict in between, the national standard should always supersede the local one.

The standard was written by a group of national experts from various disciplines who also evaluated the ten certified designs. It remains to be seen whether the provincial capacity can support the scale-up effort.

 

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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