FeatureChina Building Commissioning Brings Energy Efficiency

China’s buildings see real efficiencies through lower capital and operating costs, together with reduced energy consumption.

China's rapid economic development and urbanisation has created the world’s largest construction market, representing 24 per cent of domestic GDP and forecast to account for a fifth of global construction output by 2020. Environmental challenges have dramatically increased alongside economic growth. China has overtaken the US as the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, high levels of air pollution regularly surround the largest cities, and depletion of natural resources is also an issue.

China’s central government is actively addressing these concerns. Its Eleventh Five-Year Plan (2006–2010) achieved a 19 per cent reduction in energy consumption per unit of GDP by 2010 and the Twelfth Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) aims for a further 16 per cent reduction on 2010 levels.

The construction industry plays an important part in these ambitious targets, as buildings represent one of the largest energy drains. The government now requires higher energy savings from new construction and has introduced incentives to achieve this.

However transforming low carbon construction ideals into reality remains a challenge. China's Green Building Label (GBL), also known as the 'Three Star System', was launched in 2006 but uptake has been rather slow and regional distribution is uneven. China’s construction industry is large and fragmented and experiences difficulties in monitoring and enforcing standards throughout the provinces and cities. As a result, most of China’s green building projects fall short of international standards for energy use, water conservation, design and materials. Multinational inward investors usually pursue LEED for their projects, although some seek dual LEED and GBL accreditation.

The domestic construction industry remains relatively immature in its approach to sustainability and is just beginning to consider the impact of buildings' operational energy efficiency.

The domestic construction industry remains relatively immature in its approach to sustainability and is just beginning to consider the impact of buildings' operational energy efficiency. Influenced by our global sustainability experience, Faithful+Gould has successfully introduced, and continues to lead, the concept of energy saving throughout a building’s life. Our enhanced building commissioning service has an important role. Building commissioning ensures that new buildings and their systems are optimally installed and performing as designed. This is especially pertinent in China, where we see significant investment in mechanical and electrical services and building maintenance systems. Yet these systems do not perform as designed, due to inadequate planning, design, installation, testing and commissioning.

Building commissioning ensures that new buildings and their systems are optimally installed and performing as designed.

Our design specialists and engineers carry out a systematic commissioning process which includes all the above steps. This ensures the systems can be operated and maintained to perform as the design intends, protecting capital investment, maximising operational cost savings and seeking sustainability gains. The commissioning is ideally integrated into the original planning, designing and installation process to ensure a fully functioning building and best value for investment. Early integration makes the process preventative rather than reactive, designing the system around precise demands, without wasted capacity.

Existing buildings can benefit from a practice known as retro‑commissioning or re‑commissioning. This allows owners to plan for maintenance, replacement, and energy conservation, improving the way building systems work together, to avoid inefficiency and wasted energy. Uptake for the building commissioning service is driven by real savings and added efficiency gains. Everyone benefits from this process. Owners achieve reduced capital, operating and maintenance costs, and gain energy savings. Building managers notice fewer occupant complaints and increased ability to manage systems. Building occupants are comfortable and confident in their environment’s reliability.

...we are pioneering building commissioning expertise alongside our other innovative sustainability, operational and strategic asset management services.

Although building commissioning is not part of the GBL accreditation system, our multinational clients understand and are keen to incorporate it on their projects. Regional players, including developers from Hong Kong, Singapore and some of the more forward thinking Chinese companies, are also attuned to the benefits. Other domestic players are becoming aware, but are currently the slowest adopters in the market. Sustainability and Energy is a key growth service for Faithful+Gould in China, where we are pioneering building commissioning expertise alongside our other innovative sustainability, operational and strategic asset management services.

Our most recent building commissioning appointments include a mixed development of five commercial tower blocks in Chengdu. On this development we realised significant energy savings and lower maintenance costs. We also achieved a substantial reduction on initial investment by integrating the building’s use and occupation into design. For example, by reducing the numbers of pumps and valves from the chilled water system, we not only helped the client save on capital investment, but we also achieved the goal of a green building with high energy efficiency, reflected in the significant energy cost saving achieved in an affordable manner.

Author

Bai Ning Head of Sustainability & Energy - North & East ChinaContact me

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