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July-August 2002


Window on China
What Our International Counterpart 
is Doing on the Energy Front 

by Kate Offringa

Construction activity and code developments in China are creating opportunities for energy-efficient fenestration products in that market.

China’s economy is growing, and with it grows the national appetite for energy. In a country whose population has reached 1.25 billion and continues to grow, a large portion of national energy consumption is concentrated in the buildings where people live and work.

Construction Boom
Building construction is the third largest player in the Chinese economy. The decade 2000-2010 is expected to include a residential construction boom in China. According to EuroWindoor, the Chinese government plans to double the average space per capita from 4.5 to 8 square meters. That means 1.2 billion square meters of residential space will have to be built annually in the cities alone. Privatization of housing in China began in 1998, so a modernization/renovation boom is also on the horizon.

These construction and renovation trends have obvious implications for the window industry in China. Steel and aluminum, single-pane windows, historically have dominated the Chinese window market. Wood is considered a luxury good in China, but the potential for plastics in the window market there is set to soar. The China Chemical Report predicts 98 percent growth in demand for this technology during the ten-year period 2000-2010. This is expected to be concentrated in the residential sector, while steel and aluminum will continue to dominate commercial construction.
The Chinese government has begun to focus on energy consumption in buildings. A 1992 energy standard issued by the Ministry of Construction mandated energy savings in the Northern heating zone and called for double-pane windows in new residential construction. In 2001, an energy code was developed for residential buildings in the “Hot-Summer/Cold-Winter” zone along the Yangtze River, and work has begun on a “Hot-Summer/Warm-Winter” residential standard for Southern China.

Promoting Energy-Efficient Products
The Efficient Windows Collaborative (EWC) is taking the message of energy-efficient windows and skylights to China. With funding from the Energy Foundation and cooperation from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and independent codes experts, the EWC is organizing a series of workshops in China this year. We aim to advise and help to organize the Chinese fenestration industry in such a way that it is able to influence energy building codes and construction practices to include energy-efficient fenestration products.

In cooperation with the Chinese government and industry representatives, the EWC and its partners will help to develop organizational models for the Chinese fenestration industry and options for advancing fenestration rating and building codes initiatives in China. Together, we will determine the most workable way to involve the fenestration industry in the Chinese codes world, including methods for rating thermal performance, setting performance levels, creating default tables, recommending software, etc. Market transformation initiatives for the promotion of energy-efficient products beyond code will also be explored. 

Kate Offringa is program manager of the Efficient Windows Collaborative, a project of the Alliance To Save Energy in Washington, D.C.

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