There is still no end in sight to the construction boom in China. The People’s Republic is the world’s biggest market for construction industry – a status that the economic nation is energetically building on.
More than a third of the world’s new buildings are going up in China. At the same time, the People’s Republic also uses over half of the cement produced worldwide. The living space created in a period of two weeks is equal in size to the City of Rome.
Louie Xiang, Marketing Head Performance Materials for Construction at BASF in China, spoke to Yang Xiwei, Vice General Engineer of the Science and Technology Promotion Center of the Ministry of Housing, Urban and Rural Development (MoHURD) in China, about current developments and coming trends in the Chinese construction industry.
CORPUS: How do you expect the Chinese construction industry to develop in the coming years?
YANG XIWEI: The construction industry will remain one of the growth engines of China’s economy. Growth is being driven mainly by two trends in Chinese society – one is increasing urbanization and the other is people seeking a better quality of life. So the key invest-ments will be made in infrastructure, particularly railway investments and property development as well as government-subsidized housing, in the coming years.
CORPUS: What are the biggest trends and challenges in the construction industry in China?
YANG XIWEI: The main focus for the construction industry in the implementation of the current Five Year Plan has been on investment in green building and the development of sustainable infrastructure. Efforts are also being made to improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings by renovation. One could say we are facing pretty major challenges in view of our aspiration to make every new building more sustainable. This covers many different factors ranging from energy saving to solar energy utilization and waste water treatment.
CORPUS: How do you see the role of MoHURD in this context?
YANG XIWEI: Our role is, on the other hand, to promote top technologies for sustainable construction and, on the other, to make sure that these technologies are also adopted in the establishment of comprehensive building codes to regulate the market.
CORPUS: How do you define sustainable construction?
YANG XIWEI: Sustainable construction as we see it in MoHURD means saving energy, water, land and materials – in short, ensuring energy efficiency and a responsible use of resources.
CORPUS: Are there any current new projects or achievements of MoHURD that you can tell us about?
YANG XIWEI: Over the last few years, the government has built several passive houses to demonstrate energy-efficient building based on the building codes established at the time. In doing so, we have managed to increase energy efficiency from 35% to 65%. Due to safety standards, we have so far only been able to use inorganic insulation materials in energy-efficient construction. However, under the updated energy-efficiency standard for existing buildings, we will now be able to apply other thermal insulation products as well. High-performance thermal insulation products like polyurethane-laminated boards are of special interest for future projects. Our aim is to achieve energy efficiency of 75%, but by using thinner insulation materials to make more efficient use of space. We hope that BASF can actively participate in future demonstration projects.
I hope that my children and grandchildren will be able to live in truly green cities.
CORPUS: Can you tell us more about the new standard for energy-efficient building that you just mentioned?
YANG XIWEI: The new standard for energy efficiency in building construction was issued by the government and defines the use of insulation materials and other energy-saving measures to raise the energy efficiency of new buildings to 75%. It also contains a number of fire safety standards for buildings in which organic insulation materials are used.
CORPUS: You’ve already mentioned BASF’s expertise and our thermal insulation solutions. Do you think BASF’s approach of involving all stakeholders in meeting market needs and future trends contributes to progress in energy-efficient building?
YANG XIWEI: In my opinion, BASF has already brought a multitude of proven concepts and technologies to China over the years, including the 3-liter and – more recently – the 1-liter house concept. Cutting-edge technologies and the excellent product portfolio for insulation products like Neopor and polyurethane systems are in use in the recently opened passive house. For MoHURD, BASF’s active participation in the compilation of our building standards is particularly important. In addition, the company helps us to connect with other countries on other continents to gain insight into their regulations.
CORPUS: If you imagine your children or grandchildren growing up in a Chinese megacity, how would you like this city of the future to be?
YANG XIWEI: This question is difficult to answer. Everybody has to make their own choice about where to live, but I believe we will have even more megacities in China due to urbanization. With the new building standards in place and the increased awareness and support from the government, I hope that pollution and traffic will be significantly reduced in future and my children and grandchildren will be able to live in truly ‘green cities’.
CORPUS: Thank you Mr. Yang for taking the time to give us an insight the Chinese construction industry.
Biography in brief
Mr. Yang Xiwei is Vice General Engineer of the Science and Technology Promotion Center at the Ministry of Housing, Urban and Rural Development (MoHURD) in the People’s Republic of China. He serves also as the Vice Chairman of the Building Energy Saving Association, a branch of the China Construction Industry Association and works as Chief Editor of the Building Science and Technology semi-monthly magazine as well as the recently revised Building External Wall and Exterior Insulation Code. He is also professor at the MoHURD Talent Academy.