China, which is now the largest market for new construction in the world, is making pretty amazing progress on implementing strong building codes - crucial for holding back energy demand and mitigating climate change.
In recent years, China's been adding about 20 billion square feet a year in commercial and residential buildings, making enforcement of codes both challenging and critical.
In medium and large cities, as of 2010, close to 100% of new buildings comply with energy efficiency codes - 99.5% in the design stage and 95.4% in the construction stage.
Just five years earlier, in 2005, 53% complied in the design phase and 21% complied in the construction phase.
Evidently, the national policies launched to enforce the codes in 2005 worked. For the past five years, China has relied on independent third party auditors - as of 2009, there are 5500 certified construction inspection companies. It's also issued clear penalties for non-compliance.
Each year, the country conducts a national inspection of building energy efficiency by surveying four megacities, the majority of 30 provincial capitals, and two randomly selected cities in each province.
China's energy codes are very similar to those in the US, and "are seen as equally important as fire and life safety codes," says Ryan Meres, Code Compliance Specialist at the Institute for Market Transformation.
A new report analyzes China's progress and recommends ways to improve it: the bidding process needs further protection against corruption, and constuction workers need training on codes, which generally needs to be more widely disseminated.
"Third Parties in the Implementation of Building Energy Codes in China," is produced by the Global Buildings Performance Network and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE):