Global Opportunities

China's ambitious green building action plan with opportunities for Swiss SMEs

China’s historic economic development and rapid urbanization resulted in a construction boom, which has led to a series of environmental issues and threats. But now, environmentally friendly projects are being implemented in which Swiss companies can get involved thanks to their experience in sustainable construction.

China is improving continuously the standard system of new buildings
China is improving continuously the standard system of new buildings

In 2015, China’s total building energy consumption was 857 million tons of standard coal, accounting for 20% of China’s total energy consumption according to the statistic released by China Association of Building Energy Efficiency in November 2017. In order to achieve a green and sustainable development, reduction of building energy consumption is one of the top priorities on the Chinese government’s agenda.

In the “13th Five Year Plan for Building Energy Efficiency and Green Building Development”, released by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of China (MOHURD) in February 2017, China set out clear goals to achieve on the development of green buildings by 2020. The binding targets include:

  • The energy efficiency of newly constructed buildings in urban areas must be improved by 20% comparing to year 2015
  • The share of newly constructed green buildings in urban areas shall be increased to 50%
  • The newly constructed green buildings space nationwide is expected to reach 2 billion square meters
  • The retrofitting of existing public buildings for energy efficiency purpose covering 100 million square meters space in total must be completed
  • The retrofitting of existing residential buildings for energy efficiency purpose covering over 500 million square meters space in total must be implemented

Since the launch of Green Olympic Building Assessment System in 2002, China is improving continuously the standard system applied to green building in order to benefit from significant energy saving. Currently, there are more than 10 standards for green building officially issued by MOHURD, covering the design, construction, operation and retrofit stages.

Different environmental standards

Taking LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) as a reference, China’s current national standard “Green Building Evaluation Standard”, effective since 1st of January 2015, defines green buildings as those that maximize conservation resources (including energy, land, water and construction materials), protect the natural environment and minimize pollution, provide people with healthy, adaptive and efficient spaces within their life cycle; and coexist in harmony with the natural environment. The scope of this standard covers all types of civil buildings, including residential buildings, office buildings, shopping malls, hotel buildings etc. The evaluation is based on the following seven indicators:

  1. Conservation of land and outdoor environment;
  2. Energy conservation and energy utilization;
  3. Water saving and water resource utilization;
  4. Material saving and material resource utilization;
  5. Indoor environmental quality;
  6. Construction management;
  7. Operation management.

The standard works by rewarding the “Green Building Evaluation Label” (GBEL, also known as China Three Star Rating System). According to the performance against seven criteria, the rating results are labelled as 1-star, 2-star and 3-star of which 3-star (with 80 points and above) is the highest rating. Total score is 100 points. To encourage technical innovation and improvement of the green building, the evaluation system also sets bonus items.

In addition to GBEL and LEED, the WELL building standard was formally introduced to China since March 2015. The WELL building standard is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring features that impact human health and wellbeing, through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. In response to the trend from green building to healthy building, the Architectural Society of China has announced and implemented the “Assessment Standard for Healthy Building T/ASC 02-2016” since January 2017. The assessment will be made based on indicators such as air, water, comfort, fitness, humanities and service. It sets higher requirements to a green building, i.e. paying more attention to the physical and mental health of building users.

Sustainability as a selling argument

“Green” is increasingly becoming a competitive selling point, more and more local developers are placing a focus on green construction. The real estate company Vanke Group, ranking first in the evaluation of green residential building projects, had in recent years an increase of 100% year-on-year on its green building certification area. Greenland Group, 80% of their buildings are green certified, is planning to improve this proportion in the future. Other developers, like Soho China, Excellence Real Estate Group and Sino Ocean Group actively engage in developing green office buildings.

Opportunities for Swiss companies

The adoption of state of art green building technologies and solutions is a key part of China’s sustainability and environmental protection goals. This also applied to a huge amount of the existing buildings requiring sustainable redesign and retrofitting technologies. The Swiss companies with the necessary expertise find interesting opportunities in the full supply chain covering planning & design, construction and operation stages.

  • Benefit from an excellent reputation
    Since 1998, Minergie has been the Swiss standard for comfort, efficiency and value preservation. Its primary focus is comfortable living and working conditions for the users of new and renovated buildings. Nowadays, Minergie has become one of the most successful certificates in the green building sector worldwide. In China, both green building rating systems GBEL and LEED are recognized and prevalent. LEED, being a global brand and having enjoyed its existence since 2005 in China, has always been the favored standard, especially for the commercial buildings. According to CBRE’s research, the average occupancy of premium LEED projects in China is 10% higher and the rental fee is 25% higher compared with general buildings. However, GBEL-certified buildings are also steadily rising in number after a strong incentive framework was introduced - nationally and regionally – such as building subsidies and reduced corporate income tax rates.
    Switzerland enjoys a huge reputation for its innovative architectural design in China thanks to the world-famous Beijing National Stadium, aka Bird's Nest, which was designed jointly by Swiss & Chinese Architects, and used to be the main stadium of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, being now a tourist attraction and a venue for important matches and events. Based on 30 years of research and practical experience in Minergie, Swiss companies have gained their outstanding expertise in planning & design and could bridge the gap between China in close cooperation with local partners by offering inspiring green design concepts.
  • China as a testing ground for innovative products
    Following the global shift in the spread and development of Nearly ZeroEnergy Building (NZEB), China’s interest in this high performing building concept is significant. More than 10 provinces, including Beijing, Hebei, Shandong, Fujian, Qinghai, Hunan, Jiangsu, Liaoning, Inner Mongolian, Heilongjiang and Sichuan have set an “Action Plan” to accelerate the development of NZEBs. The local governments have also operated strong incentives. In Beijing, a NZEB project will receive a subsidy of RMB600 to RMB1000 per sqm. The preferential policies are the key drivers of the development of NZEB market. According to the statistics, by February 2017, more than 100 experimental and demonstration NZEB projects are going to be realized or already constructed nationwide. Beijing, for example, by the end of 2018, aims to have at least 300,000 square meters of ultra-low energy demonstration buildings. Meanwhile, at least one demonstration project will be built in each administrative district. In China, the NZEB concept is not only involving individual buildings, but also exploring large communities, such as residential communities, industry parks, theme related towns etc. China is becoming a favorable testing ground for innovative products; the Swiss green building product and system suppliers with the key technologies including heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC), daylighting, windows, automation and controls, safety technology etc. which are relevant to the high performance of a NZEB, will certainly benefit.
  • Be part of the Swiss Village
    Currently, there is a “Swiss Village” project on-going. The village is part of the “Sunshine Childhood Holiday Resort”, located in Wulong, Chongqing. Developed by Xiang Long Real Estate Co. Ltd. as one of 12 Municipal Key Projects in 2018, this holiday resort covers about 3.85 square kilometers with total construction area of 2.8 square kilometers. Seven country villages: China, Switzerland, Japan, Holland, Denmark, Brazil and USA will be completed by 2022. Since the resort is close to Wulong Karst National Geological Park, an UNESCO World heritage site, the project will make the best advantage of natural resources to establish a creative vacation paradise. It will integrate the concept of technology, environmental protection, innovation and health into the theme of sunshine childhood. In the Swiss Village, children can experience “Swissness” in different kinds of indoor and outdoor activities, including chocolate workshop; watch workshop; forest rope park; salto trampoline; mini golf; labyrinth; vita-parcours; alphorn blowing Indoor; paper cutting workshop; wrestling; crossbow shooting; globi’s nature trail; farmhouse & petting zoo. The Swiss company: Fanzun AG Architekten is responsible for the overall master planning of the Swiss village. The construction is scheduled to start end of 2018 and the grand opening of Swiss Village will take place in June 2019. Fanzun AG welcomes Swiss companies to get involved at a different project stage.
  • Get connected
    Swiss Green Buildings (SGB), an initiative of Keller Technologies AG, is a brand being registered in Switzerland. SGB is acting as an association of Swiss Companies for Swiss Quality, Technology and Sustainability in Planning and Construction in China, comprising already 20 Swiss companies active in the green building field and have projects in China. Member companies are investors, planners, systems & products suppliers. The SGB platform was established in 2017. Keller Technologies AG with their local team in Beijing is jointly promoting SGB to become better known to Chinese authorities, investors, organizations in the construction and planning field. The aim of SGB is: “Any whoever thinks of planning and/or construction in China and wants a top service should link to SGB”. The Swiss companies interested in the Chinese green building market, may consider to use SGB as a project information and experience sharing platform.

Mini SWISS Pavilion @ Fenestration Bau China

Giving the fact of an energized Chinese green building market, Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE) will organize for the first time a Mini Swiss Pavilion @ Fenestration Bau China 2018 (FBC). FBC China, Asia’s leading trade fair for building system solutions, high-end technologies and materials, will take place from 31st of Oct. to 3rd of Nov. 2018 in Beijing. The Swiss Pavilion will have an attractive and inviting appearance under the well-known “Switzerland” umbrella brand, which stands for Quality, Innovation & Tradition. The participating companies will benefit from synergies between S-GE’s global network and the Embassy of Switzerland, the Consulate General and the Swiss Business Hub China. Furthermore, all registered companies have the opportunity to book a complimentary consulting session with China Specialists at S-GE. FBC will provide a professional platform for Swiss companies to seize the business opportunities in the green building industry in China.

Do you want to use the possibility to explore your opportunities in the Chinese green building market without commitment? Contact our S-GE Consultant for China, Daniel Bont. Contact 


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