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Monday, December 15, 2008
feature story
PNNL developing blueprint for code enforcement in China

Greenhouse gas emissions increase as global construction grows

Photo courtesy of Institute of Technical Information for Building Materials Industry of China.
Half of the world's new construction in the next decade is expected to be built in China. Integrating and adhering to energy codes will limit additional greenhouse gas emissions from avoided building energy use.

The Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will develop an action plan for building energy code enforcement that can be deployed in small and medium-sized cities across China, where half of the world’s new construction will occur in the next 10 years.

Under a new grant announced today, PNNL researchers will pilot a grass roots campaign in two Chinese cities using public involvement and market incentives to increase compliance with the country’s new, stricter building energy codes. The pilot will generate lessons learned and a manual for program implementation that can be replicated by cities across China. The Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (APP) grant was announced today at the U.S. Department of State.

China has announced its ambitious goal to have new buildings 50 percent more energy efficient by 2010. It has the world’s second-highest building energy use behind the United States. Because buildings can last 30 to 50 years, the designs implemented today can impact emissions for many years. Adhering to current building codes is critical for achieving China’s energy-saving goals and limiting greenhouse gas emissions associated with efficient energy use in its buildings.

“China and the United States are in the midst of developing a productive partnership that deals with local, national and global energy and climate change issues,” said Shui Bin, PNNL project manager. “This project aims to contribute to the on-going efforts to improve building energy efficiency in China.”

Today’s APP grant announcement included the signing of a memorandum of understanding between PNNL and the U.S. State Department under the APP. APP awarded PNNL $518,000 to improve the implementation of and compliance with building energy codes in two cities in China. Those cities will be announced in the near future.

“The United States and China have a symbiotic relationship – we have a shared responsibility and a shared opportunity to help solve the global energy and environmental challenges,” said Mike Davis, PNNL's associate laboratory director for energy and environment. “With this MOU, we can be more flexible and innovative in how we can partner PNNL’s science and technology expertise with APP’s mission.”

Under the grant, PNNL will work with the China Academy of Building Research, the chief developer of most of China’s national building energy codes, and the Beijing Energy Efficiency Center, one of the most influential energy efficiency organizations in China. Another nonprofit organization – the Blue Moon Fund – recently awarded the team $295,000 for a complementary project.

“As in any country, programs are most successful if they proactively involve the business community, citizens and the government workers implementing programs,” said Meredydd Evans, a PNNL senior energy expert and a co-principal investigator of this project. “We’ll tailor our approach to the Chinese business and society cultures. We’ll engage stakeholders, learn and understand the hurdles to compliance, and provide the tools they need to succeed.”

While China has mandated stricter building energy codes, it’s difficult to get people to comply and government to enforce the rules, she said.

Under the two grants, PNNL and its partners will:

  • Train building inspectors, designers, construction companies and other key stakeholders to ensure they have needed tools for greater compliance
  • Test two targeted marked-based incentive programs – information campaigns and bulk procurement of energy-efficiency materials – to support code enforcement
  • Scale up the project’s impact by districting lessons learned and training manuals nationally.

The APP project complements other efforts underway for the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Evans and Shui are implementing an ongoing project to analyze and compare building energy codes in countries that are partners under APP.

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