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Green building to China

(Last updated: 29 Aug 2013)

Trends and opportunities

Clean Energy and Environment - China

Be part of a unique initiative to encourage exports and two-way investment between Australia and China in clean energy, green-building, water and the environment.

Austrade China’s Clean Energy and Environment (CEE) team has developed a co-ordinated marketing platform to introduce capable Australian firms into eco-projects, opportunities and contacts in China.

Austrade has developed a Chinese language directory to showcase the capabilities of Australian water, environmental, clean energy and green-building companies. The directory has been marketed to Chinese organisations pursuing major projects in relevant industry sectors, such as urban and rural local authorities, state-owned conglomerates, energy generators and property managers.

Companies in this initiative are also able to connect via Austrade to CEE advisors working on-the-ground in China. These CEE advisors provide services ranging from legal, advisory, funding and business matching.

Apply to join our CEE China Directory

The market

China is one of the world’s largest economies and the second largest energy consumer. Building-related energy consumption accounts for 30 per cent of the country’s total energy use. This figure rises to 40 per cent if manufacture and transport of building materials is considered. Half of the world’s buildings constructed between now and 2020 are expected to be in China. It is believed that if nothing is done to check the energy situation, building-related energy consumption in China will double by 2020.

Green building was first highlighted as a priority sector in both China’s 11th Five-Year-Plan and its medium and long-term plan for science and technology development. The 12th Five-Year-Plan demonstrated further support to this sector with activities and programs from 2011-2015.

In January 2013, the State Council issued the Green Building Action Plan which is stipulated by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD). The Action Plan has emphasised ten main tasks which include:

  • Promote the construction of new green building in both urban and rural areas
  • Promote the reform of existing buildings
  • Reform heating systems in Northern China
  • Promote the application of new energy technology
  • Enhance energy management of public buildings
  • Research on green building technology
  • Develop green building materials
  • Promote the standardisation of building
  • Strictly supervise the demolishment of buildings
  • Promote recycling of waste building materials

Many local governments have set up green building regulations in line with national policies. In most first-tier cities, energy saving guidelines are set for all new buildings at the design stage.

Some outcomes of this elevated emphasis include:

  • The government has launched an ambitious plan to renovate existing buildings to make them more energy-efficient. 25 per cent of the buildings in medium-sized cities and 10 per cent of those in small cities will be refurbished by 2020.
  • The government has also indicated it will announce tax rebates and other financial incentives for the construction and purchase of energy efficient buildings in the future.

Ten key energy efficiency programs of the Chinese government:

  • Upgrade coal-burning industrial boilers (kilns)
  • Local co-generation
  • Make use of exhaust heat and pressure
  • Save and replace petroleum
  • Energy conservation in electrical motors
  • Optimisation of energy systems through system optimisation design, technical renovation and improved management, to reach energy efficiency in key energy intensive industries
  • Environmentally-friendly lighting - candescent lamps to light-emitting diodes and high intensity discharge lamps
  • Energy conservation in governmental departments
  • Energy conservation in buildings – 50 per cent energy saving in residential buildings and public structures
  • Build energy monitoring and technical service systems

Green projects

The annual building area of new building in China is 2 billion sqm – more than 50 per cent of the global total.

The Chinese Green Building Assessment (CGBA) system was established in 2006. China set up a new building code in 2006 requiring 50-65 per cent energy savings for new buildings (based on 1980s standards).

The concept of green building has been mainly adopted in commercial and public buildings, and higher-market residential apartments and houses (ie. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified).


The Beijing government is determined to implement building energy saving policies by applying strict energy saving design standards in new building construction, and gradually conducting technical energy-saving renovations to existing buildings.

Four demonstration buildings have been constructed or are in the planning stages to promote the development of green building technology:

  • China-USA energy efficiency demonstration building
    The new Ministry of Science building is the first green building in China that meets internationally acknowledged energy efficiency criteria. The building uses 70 per cent less energy than similar federal buildings in the US and saves 10,000 tonnes of water annually through rainwater collection. Although more than 400 people work there, the building uses the amount of energy generally required for only 200 people.
  • Renewable energy utilisation demonstration building
    This building, owned by Tianpu Group, was constructed with the support of Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Commission. The building, with an area of 8,000sqm uses several advanced renewable energy technologies, including solar hot water technology, solar photovoltaic power generation technology, solar absorption heating and air conditioning technology, as well as ground source heat pumps.
  • Advanced energy technology demonstration building at Beijing University of Technology
    This building has a floor space of 5,000sqm and will house the Ministry of Education’s ‘Key Laboratory of Enhanced Heat Transfer and Energy Conservation’. 11 advanced energy technologies will be integrated into the building including: ground-source heat pumps, energy efficient lighting, heat recovery, thermal energy storage, photo-catalytic air cleaning, anti-fouling technology, thermal insulation, solar concentrating photovoltaic power generation, wind power, energy consumption testing and humidity control.
  • Super low energy consumption building at Tsinghua University
    A super low energy consumption building of 2,800sqm using advanced technologies for clean energy and energy conservation. This includes solar energy, new heat storage technology, natural ventilation, green lighting technology and insulation.


According to the target set by the China central government, Shanghai has to reduce energy consumption by 18 per cent (from 2010 levels) before 2015 (Source: Reuters). Energy efficient building is a crucial part of achieving this target. From 2010 to 2015, the city's 180 million sqm of new residential and public buildings will be 50 per cent more energy efficient. Energy saving renovations will be made on 30 million sqm of buildings, including 10 million sqm of residential buildings.

The Shanghai ecology demonstration office building is the winner of a ‘Green Innovation Design Award’ and the ‘Top 10 Best Construction Achievement Award’. It uses 75 per cent less energy than comparable buildings. 20 per cent of the total construction energy was sourced from renewable energy. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are not used in the interior environment and much recycled material was used.


The Changsha–Zhuzhou-Xiangtang Green Cities Demonstration Project was established by the Hunan government to combine three cities, Changsha, Zhuzhou and Xiangtang, into one city cluster. The project aims to achieve sustainable economic development and eco-living environment through effective usage of resources, creating harmony between human activities and their environment. The Hunan government is providing financial support for the project.


With very limited traditional and renewable energy resources, Guangdong is doing all it can to reduce energy consumption of industries, commercial and residential buildings. By the end of 2010, the average energy consumption per GDP unit had been reduced by 16 per cent from 2005 levels, and since 2006, a rigorous 50 per cent energy saving regulation has become mandatory for all new buildings. Furthermore, from 2011 to 2015, as stipulated by the central government, Guangdong has to reduce energy consumption by 18 per cent (compared to 2010).

Key green building projects include: Guangzhou University City, Guangzhou International Convention Exhibition Centre and Asian Games Town.


The Shenzhen Fraser Hotel (TaiGe service apartment) was the first LEED project in China and received a LEED silver rating.

The Shenzhen China Merchants Bank Headquarter building is a LEED certified demonstration project.

The Shenzhen Vanke Real Estate Development Company is working with Holland Housing Department to design a residential housing project, with energy saving technologies from the Netherlands.


Opportunities exist for Australian companies in:


  • Architecture and design
  • Interior design
  • Urban planning
  • Landscape design
  • Engineering consultancy
  • Energy efficient consultancy


  • Building integrated renewable energy systems
  • Energy efficient lighting
  • Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning
  • Intelligent building management systems
  • Water saving systems
  • Water proofing systems
  • Insulation materials
  • High quality architectural paint
  • Innovative building products of advance technologies
  • Natural building materials of Australian characteristics such as sandstone, clay bricks

Other identified opportunities from the recent GBCA conference about green building in China include:

  • Design theory, method and practice of green building
  • Building intelligence
  • Special eco-technologies for green building
  • Advanced energy-efficient, environmental-friendly building materials; application of recyclable and reproducible building materials
  • Development mode and technological approaches of green intelligent building based on the technological development of China's residential and real estate industries
  • Engineering practices for existing building energy-saving renovation, design and evaluation technology on energy-conservation in buildings; control technology for heating measurement; technology for utilisation of natural cooling and heating energy
  • Engineering practice and use of reproducible resources in buildings, such as solar energy, geothermal energy and methane
  • Operation and supervision of energy conservation in large public buildings and energy conservation service market
  • Heat-supply system reform and building resource conservation
  • New materials and technologies for external insulation

Competitive environment

International building products are competing for the Chinese market, with local Chinese companies catching up quickly, eg. Chinese companies are actively developing building integrated solar systems. Stronger competition in cost effective solutions is expected in future and a local presence and investment provides some advantage over imported goods.

Tariffs, regulations and customs

China employs a seven standard, 3-star rating system. As at October 2007, laws relevant to green building included:

  • Regulations on energy-saving for civil buildings – includes standards and guidelines relating to HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), building-aspect, land use and conservation, energy use and efficiency, water use and conservation, building materials, management and recycling, indoor environment quality, maintenance and operational management of buildings
  • Building standards for residential buildings
  • Standards for technical evaluations of residential buildings
  • Assessment system for green buildings
  • Law on energy saving
  • Law on architecture

Industry standards

International standards are not generally recognised in the Chinese market. Suppliers are required to adhere to Chinese standards. For instance, safety and fire proofing standards must be certified by the relevant Chinese authorities.

Marketing your products and services

Market entry

Subject to products and services, market entry strategies may include:

  • Distributors
  • Partnership (with local companies or even competitors, particularly in architectural services)
  • Setting up representative offices and companies in China
  • Setting up manufacturing bases in China
  • Technology transfer

Distribution channels

China is a large country with very diverse markets. It is recommended to consider a regional distributorship arrangement instead of sole distribution contracts.

Contact details

The Australian Trade Commission – Austrade – contributes to Australia's economic prosperity by helping Australian businesses, education institutions, tourism operators, governments and citizens as they:

  • develop international markets
  • win productive foreign direct investment
  • promote international education
  • strengthen Australia's tourism industry
  • seek consular and passport services.

Austrade provides information and advice that can help you reduce the time, cost and risk of exporting. We also administer the Export Market Development Grant Scheme and offer a range of services to Australian exporters in growth and emerging markets.

For more information on how Austrade can assist you, contact us on:

Australia ph: 13 28 78 | Email:

A list of Austrade offices (in alphabetical order of country) is also available.


Primary Industries

For industries in bold, Austrade is able to offers a full suite of services


Winning Projects in China’s Clean Energy and Environment Sector (PDF, 421KB)
April 2012

Jane Caforio
Trade Commissioner, Beijing

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