The idea to hold an event on green energy is something that we at Network PRD have been thinking about for a long time. China is by far the most rapidly urbanizing country in the history of the world. In the next 25 years, China’s urban population will approach one billion, with all the accompanying skyscrapers, rail systems, manufacturing, airports, highways, shopping malls, and housing. A systematic and reasoned approached to sustainable, green development is essential to matching this urbanization with an equivalent rise in living standards.
Difficulties in Surging Demands on Construction
China’s economic growth, up to this point, has come with a price. The high demand for new construction often leads to the sourcing of cheap materials and cutting corners. While saving money in the short run, these practices lead to higher energy bills and, especially if buildings aren’t constructed to have abundant sunlight, lower worker productivity. Although the Chinese government has passed several national laws and regulations designed to increase energy efficiency standards, the sheer number and scale of ongoing construction projects makes adequate enforcement extremely difficult. On top of all this, government officials are also on the learning curve in regards to modern construction, and even the most well-meaning city or local government representatives may not be properly versed in weather-striping, purchasing sustainable timber, window design to allow maximum sunlight access and rainwater-recycling cooling systems.
Making Green Work in China
There have been many instances of cooperation between China and the US and other countries, towards the goal of a more sustainable urban China. Currently, the U.S. Agency for International Development is contributing to a program to develop a building energy performance rating system in China. LEED, an environmental certification developed in 1998 by The U.S. Green Building Council, is being increasingly adopted in China by high-profile projects; The Beijing Olympic Village earned a LEED Gold Medal Certification on August 13th, 2008. But despite these victories for sustainability, the reality is that until private corporations, investors and entrepreneurs begin to demand green development, the high profile projects will remain paper facades, not a representation of actual growth in China. The math is in, and it is quite simple. A larger short-term investment towards green construction creates long term savings. This is not an easy sell, but it is an important one. The LEED certification has gone a long way towards establishing a standard of energy performance worldwide, but it won’t be the last such standard. The rising economy of India, while not able to match China’s constant goal of 8% expansion, soon will come to the realization that green development is sustainable, worker-friendly, and cost-effective. Where will India, and other developing countries turn, when they want expertise towards developing more sustainable construction guidelines? Over the last decade, China has turned largely to the rest of the world for advice about green building. And during this time, China went from becoming the world’s largest cement importer to importing more than half of all the cement produced in the world. For financial stability, long term profits, energy independence, and care for future generations, the time for a green energy revolution is now, and the place is China.