7th Forum on Green Development

Event: Sustainable Growth Model

FES Shanghai and the Institute for Ecology at Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (SASS) successfully held the Forum for Green Development for the seventh time. This year, the focus lied on the building sector, given the necessity to transform the system and strengthen the life cycles in both private and public sector.

Cities are growing and emerging all over the world. Urbanization has been an unstoppable social phenomenon for decades, and its challenges are complex. Housing people takes up more and more of a city's surface area. At the same time, the demand for primary energy is growing with increasing prosperity.

The construction and building sector, i. e. building and demolition, housing and use, now account for a total of 38 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, in China even for more than half. In this context, the ecological footprint is divided proportionally between construction and demolition of buildings on the one hand, and the usage of the buildings on the other hand.

There was a large acceptance among all experts of the forum: To achieve climate targets, buildings must be constructed and renovated in a sustainable manner to reduce CO2 emissions from the sector. In order to realize this, efficient solutions are needed that also ensure affordable housing. Chinese experts pointed out that large-scale application of (ultra-)low-emission buildings that draw energy from clean grids and/or are self-sufficient with solar panels, a sharp increase in energy-efficient renovation rates, and the implementation of market-based measures such as an effective CO2 trading market are the keys to achieving climate neutrality targets quickly. However, figures from Germany show that this change is progressing far too slowly. Experts from both countries saw monitoring and surveillance of buildings as another pivotal factor to analyses and conclusions for the sustainable development of buildings. In Germany, however, a system for this is virtually non-existent, as it is associated with a massive demand for skilled workers, which cannot be met. China, on the other hand, already relies much more on technological tools for monitoring efficiency control. Furthermore, projects are underway in both countries for the random assessment of buildings.

In addition to socially acceptable and ecologically efficient laws and policies, such as the phasing out of oil and gas heating from households, a social information framework for citizens to educate and participate is needed to educate about the positive long-term effects of change or, vice versa, the negative effects of inaction. In addition, incentive and initiative programs must be used to minimize follow-up costs and social hardship.

Both conference days have shown, that although there is large acceptance about the necessity of reforming the sector, there remains much work and investment needs in both countries to apply and implement various innovative ideas and exploit the potential to create synergy effects between social and ecological progress.

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