Building a structure for efficiency

Jan 10, 2014
Building a Structure for Efficiency
Low efficiency heating equipment, such as this Kang wood stove, illustrates the challenge for researchers and building standards officials in rural China. As part of a whole-house heating unit, this stove and other low-efficiency heating and cooking units can be replaced with high-efficiency models as a part of new building energy codes implementation. Credit: CABR.

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, working with partners at the China Academy of Building Research (CABR), analyzed current and future building energy use in rural China and developed an assessment of the issues and options for improving capacity and implementation of a building energy standard. Though there are feasible options for improving energy efficiency in rural buildings, they researched the significant challenges in establishing support at a local level. Due in part to their work, China has recently adopted a voluntary building energy standard to guide local governments in their work with rural populations. Their research is helping China to take important steps to improve energy efficiency in rural buildings.

"The Chinese government was interested in testing the feasibility of a code before adopting it," said Meredydd Evans, lead researcher and expert in building efficiency working at the Joint Global Change Research Institute (JGCRI) in Maryland. "The pilot implementation projects and reviews we conducted with CABR helped establish the feasibility of moving forward with a code on a voluntary basis."

JGCRI is a partnership between PNNL and the University of Maryland.

Worldwide energy use demands are increasing, and so are concerns to limit greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. China, with one fifth of the world's population, has a growing economy and per capita energy use. Rural buildings now account for well over half of China's total building energy use and approximately 40 percent of their total floor space, equivalent to all U.S. residential floor space. As rural families switch to commercial fuels and expand their use of energy, the emissions from these buildings will grow. Because of their current inefficiency, improving energy efficiency in rural buildings is a readily achievable goal—a "low hanging fruit"—for capturing energy savings with feasible options. The PNNL researchers, collaborating with partners in China, are tackling the issues of how to improve and building standards in rural China.

Building a Structure for Efficiency
Replacing inefficient home equipment with efficient models, such as these cooking and heating appliances, will reduce energy use and improve home air quality as well. Credit: CABR.

A PNNL research team led by Evans working at JGCRI used the Global Change Assessment Model (GCAM) to assess China's rural building energy trends. GCAM, developed at PNNL with support from the U.S. Department of Energy, is an integrated assessment model that links economic, energy, land-use and climate systems to show the effects of regional and . The team conducted field interviews with Chinese experts to understand the challenges and options for rural building codes to promote efficient energy use. They developed recommendations on possible policy options and implementation mechanisms for new codes, and tested implementation options for a rural building code in two rural villages in conjunction with the CABR.

China adopted a voluntary rural building energy standard in December 2012. Now researchers are moving to assess progress with implementation, and as capacity grows, move toward making the standard a requirement.

Explore further: Updating building energy codes: How much can your state save?

More information: Evans M, S Yu, B Song, Q Deng, J Liu, and A Delgado. 2014. "Building Energy Efficiency in Rural China." Energy Policy 64:243-251. DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2013.06.040

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Reaching ambitious greenhouse gas concentration goals

Mar 18, 2013

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found that even though it is technically possible to reach ambitious goals to limit greenhouse gas concentrations by the end of the 21st century, the combin ...

Another metric on energy efficiency

Mar 19, 2012

It's hardly a surprise that making energy efficiency improvements to buildings saves money and can benefit the environment in terms of reduced fossil fuel burning and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

U.S., China sign energy agreement

Sep 17, 2007

The U.S. Department of Energy has joined with China in agreeing to increase cooperation to heighten energy efficiency in China's industrial sector.

Recommended for you

Obama launches measures to support solar energy in US

Apr 17, 2014

The White House Thursday announced a series of measures aimed at increasing solar energy production in the United States, particularly by encouraging the installation of solar panels in public spaces.

Tailored approach key to cookstove uptake

Apr 17, 2014

Worldwide, programs aiming to give safe, efficient cooking stoves to people in developing countries haven't had complete success—and local research has looked into why.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Growing app industry has developers racing to keep up

Smartphone application developers say they are challenged by the glut of apps as well as the need to update their software to keep up with evolving phone technology, making creative pricing strategies essential to finding ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.