Could green building finally be taking off in China?

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LEED-certified buildings are mushrooming across the mainland

Shopping mall at Chengdu IFS. Image credit: Wwklion (Wikimedia Commons)
Shopping mall at Chengdu IFS. Image credit: Wwklion (Wikimedia Commons)

This week, a building in Chengdu became the first in southwest China to be certified LEED EBOM Platinum (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance).

Overshooting Platinum standards with a score of 7 points plus, the Chengdu International Finance Square (IFS), a 760,000-square-metre development by The Wharf (Holdings) Ltd, now boasts a 35 percent higher energy efficiency than average.

“Being the first and the largest LEED EBOM Platinum building in southwest China, Chengdu IFS has set up a milestone,” Christina Hau, general manager for operations of Wharf China Estates Ltd, said in a statement.

Johnson Controls, whose core business units include building efficiency and LEED consulting, was enlisted to improve the structure’s HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning) technology. It also provided a customised array of services that included the enhancement of the building management systems and the debugging of an energy consumption system.

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Chengdu IFS’ ascendance to LEED-certified status marks another milestone for China, saddled with a momentous air pollution problem, especially in Beijing, and being held into account by the international community for carbon (CO2) emissions. In 2012, China was the largest contributor to emissions from fossil fuel burning and cement production, according to a Belfer Center study.

LEED’s EBOM programme is designed to retrofit existing structures to become energy-efficient and more environmentally sustainable, in the belief that the greenest building “is the one already built.” LEED certification is now growing in vogue in China, with an annual growth rate of 40 percent. Last year, a Shanghai building, AZIA Center, also achieved LEED Platinum status under the EBOM program, the first office building in China to do so.

China is hoping to achieve LEED certification for 30 percent of new construction projects by 2020.

Asia in general is becoming a notable force in the world of green buildings. Singapore recently ranked second in the world in terms of green buildings, and just over the pond from China, last month Taipei 101 was announced to be the world’s tallest green building. The skyscraper is the highest scoring LEED v4 project in the world, the first to reach the 90 points threshold.

In Asia, some 6,700 projects have been registered, and over 2,100 projects are now LEED-certified as green buildings.

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