When China finally put some cold hard numbers behind its green building objectives in May and articulated specific strategies to get there, it erased many doubts around the world as to the substance of the emerging giant’s commitment to going green.
Now it seems the world is willing to back this with cash. Last week, the Asian Development Bank announced its intention to provide $600 million to four projects that will transform waste into clean energy, reduce CO2 emissions, expand eco-friendly transport and protect wetland areas in fast growing second-tier cities.
The four projects include:
- $200 million in loans to develop biomass power plants that produce clean energy from animal and municipal waste, reducing annual greenhouse emissions by 638,000 tons and providing millions in Anhui, Jiangsu, Shandong and the southern provinces with a reliable source of clean energy
- $150 million to expand district heating systems in north-eastern Heilongjiang province, eliminating the reliance of 270,000 households on coal stoves for indoor heating (which causes pollution and respiratory diseases) in an area where temperatures have been known to drop as low as minus-40 degrees Celsius in winter without increasing net emissions
- $100 million to upgrade pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, enhance road safety and restore 1,400 hectares of wetland habitats that have been damaged by industrial production and unsustainable water use in agriculture in two of western Gansu province’s poorest cities
- Upgrading infrastructure, including the construction of a wastewater treatment plant, an upgraded heating network and more public green areas in emerging towns in Liaoning in the north-east to support sustainable urbanisation.
Robert Wihtol, director general of ADB’s East Asia Department, says he is confident the projects will support China in its development and environmental goals.
“We still have a long way to go, but with forward-looking planning and investment, the Chinese cities of the future can have clean air, blue skies, clean water and more green areas,” Wihtol says.
The latest moves come follow the release in May of a long-term plan in which the government said the country will aim for 30 per cent of construction projects to be ‘green’ by 2020 through a combination of subsidies for new buildings which achieve high environmental grades, the application of green construction standards to publicly funded low income housing projects and promoting technological development and the development of related industries.
Already, the country has plenty to show for its efforts. The Shanghai Centre, China’s tallest skyscraper, features a number of environmentally friendly attributes, and the country’s renewable energy sector is booming.
China is serious about sustainable building and construction. The world, it seems, is willing to help it on its way.