One-third of completed buildings need to be renovated to meet new environmental standards, says construction official A top mainland construction official has unveiled an ambitious energy-saving plan to promote power-efficient buildings across the country, where half of the world's buildings are constructed every year. Vice-Minister of Construction Qiu Baoxing said yesterday that at least one-third of China's completed buildings, which covered 40 billion square metres of floor space, needed to undergo energy-efficient renovations. 'We must shift the people's fondness for shiny steel-and-glass structures, which are actually energy killers, towards comfortable, healthy, environmentally friendly and energy-efficient houses,' Mr Qiu said. He said energy-efficiency requirements would also apply to buildings under construction, which at 2 billion square metres of floor space a year accounted for almost half of the world's total. 'Whether China's newly constructed and existing buildings are energy efficient has an impact not only on easing the country's power shortage, but also on global climate change and the world economy.' Construction and heating are the country's top consumers of energy, accounting for one-quarter of the nation's total consumption. Mr Qiu said energy-efficient renovations could become a booming market, as an estimated 2.6 trillion yuan would be invested to complete the enormous task. He said such renovation could cost up to 200 yuan per square metre. His ministry would introduce new energy-saving standards for so-called green buildings, as well as rules that would hold local officials and other parties responsible for enforcing them. For example, designers and developers who failed to achieve a minimum standard of 50 per cent energy saving could be fined up to 500,000 yuan and risk losing their licences. While tax incentives have also been planned, Mr Qiu declined to say if the public would shoulder the cost of energy-saving measures. Mr Qiu's announcement comes at a time when China, the world's second-largest consumer of crude oil, tries to close the gap between soaring demand for energy and dwindling supplies. In May, the State Council issued a wide-ranging directive setting out detailed instructions for all economic sectors on ways to reduce energy consumption and promote renewable energy. According to the plan, projects to cut energy consumption by 65 per cent will be launched in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing and other main cities in northern China in the next five years. Eight cities, including Shanghai, have been selected for another pilot project to apply renewable energies in buildings, including using solar energy to generate heating and electricity. Mr Qiu conceded that China's promotion of energy-efficient buildings still had a long way to go, and local cadres and the public lacked sufficient understanding of the campaign.