China is in the midst of a construction mega-boom. The country has the largest buildings market in the world, making up 20 percent of all construction investment globally. And it’s set to grow: China is expected to spend nearly $13 trillion on buildings by 2030 (PDF).
This unprecedented level of construction has tremendous implications — not just for the Chinese, but for everyone. Building operations are responsible for 28 percent of global energy-related carbon emissions (PDF). How China constructs its buildings either will fuel dangerous climate change or help create a more sustainable future for everyone.
Zero carbon buildings would allow countries such as China to keep pace with current construction rates while still lowering their greenhouse gas emissions. By relying heavily on efficiency and renewable energy, zero carbon buildings are consistent with the goal of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, a trajectory scientist say is necessary to avert the worst climate impacts.