Sino-German Expert Talks on Quality Infrastructure for a Green Construction Industry
The construction industry plays a key role in mitigating the economic consequences of climate change, said Mr Wolfgang Trautwein, Counsellor for Economic Affairs at the German Embassy in Beijing. German and Chinese companies are striving to develop new products and technologies that will shape the future of the sector and support the transition towards a green construction industry. The question how quality infrastructure (QI) can facilitate this development was addressed in expert talks jointly organised by the Global Project Quality Infrastructure (GPQI) and Messe München GmbH on 1 November. The event took place as part of the Green Building and Prefabrication Forum at FENESTRATION BAU China 2018 in Beijing. The trade fair is Asia’s largest in the building industry, consisting of an exhibition, conferences and concurrent events.
Regarding sustainable product certification and manufacturing in the construction industry, two reform processes are currently under way in China. In 2016, the Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA) was designated by the State Council to facilitate a unified accreditation, conformity assessment and certification scheme for sustainable products. The new, voluntary label shall in the long term replace the currently highly fragmented eco-labelling landscape in China. In parallel, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) implements a standardisation framework for sustainable manufacturing (key project of "Made in China 2025”). Against this background, the morning session of the event focused on the China Green Product (CGP) certificate and the drafted evaluation standard for factories.
Besides Mr Trautwein, also Mr Chen Haiyang, Deputy Division Director of CNCA and Dr Reinhard Pfeiffer, Deputy CEO of Messe München GmbH opened the event. The high economic relevance of the construction industry in Germany and China has been agreeably emphasised. Its vast potential to positively impact environmental issues and sustainable development is obvious: resource and energy efficiency, the reduction of pollutant emissions as well as waste are long term management challenges.
Germany and China strongly promote the development of a more environmentally friendly manufacturing industry. “From mines to building materials and the building’s life cycle, the construction industry consumes about 40% of the society’s total energy demand”, Mr ZHANG Jin, Project Manager of the Guojian Lianxin Certification Center, stated. Therefore, top-level policies such as China’s 13th Five-year Plan entail the establishment and assessment of green factories in the building materials industry. The implementation plans of the responsible ministries comprise ambitious targets for building construction and renovation. For example, until 2050, 50% of all buildings in China should be sustainable.
How shall constructors or architects plan a sustainable building and choose the necessary environmentally friendly materials? One possibility, eco-labelling, got introduced by Mr JIANG Quan, Chief Engineer of the China Building Material Test & Certification Centre (CTC). He gave an overview on the new China Green Product (GPC) certification which shall be released for construction materials end of 2018. The reform is going hand in hand with the increasing demand for certification of sustainable building materials in China. Two main driving forces can be named for that: firstly, the market requirements posed by ordinary consumers and developers or design institutes commissioned with green building projects and secondly, legislative regulations, he explained.
Sustainable product labelling requires clear standards. The importance of that was emphasized by Mr Rüdiger Otto, Vice President of the German Construction Confederation. Infrastructure projects constitute the main share of the demand in the construction industry, with transparency being an essential precondition for the participation of foreign companies in public tender processes. To foster the environmental friendly development of the sector besides transparent processes clear standardisation and certification requirements are necessary; ensuring safety and quality of construction works or public buildings.
Not only the choice of the construction material influences the environmental impact of the building, also the assembly is crucial. Several certification systems assess buildings from a holistic point of view. Mr Jan Höhne from TUV Rheinland introduced three certification systems, which are already used in China: the German Society for Sustainable Building (DGNB) Design, the Leadership in Energy and Environment (LEED) Design from the United States and the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology (BREEAM) from the United Kingdom. By 2025, the global market volume for sustainable building is expected to reach about 265 billion EUR. The sector offers outstanding business opportunities for innovative technologies and high quality products.
After digesting the systemic talks the afternoon session focussed explanatory on the concrete sector. Mr Alessio Rimoldi, Secretary General of the Federation of the European Precast Concrete Industry, added the European perspective by advocating for precast concrete besides envisioning the profitability of a circular economy. Subsequently, Mr Thomas Friedrich, CEO of Innogration GmbH, introduced innovative concrete modules. The specifically shaped modules can speed up the assembly process and increase the efficiency of heating and cooling systems. Adding on the latter, Mr Wolfgang Bonder, CEO of MIG mbH delivered a key note on innovative coating potentially substituting conservative insulative building materials. Last but not least, Prof. Dr Dirk Lowke from the Technical University of Braunschweig gave a glimpse of the future concrete processing technologies. Besides increasing the resource efficiency via 3D printing manifold opportunities, the technology can allow round concrete components, and thus add to the diversity in construction sector.