As we dust ourselves off from the international embarrassment of the Kyoto withdraw, what’s next? Could working with China on green building be one of the best ways for Canada to take action on climate change?
Consider this: No nation emits more greenhouse gases than China, and nothing emits more greenhouse gases in China than buildings.
Over 350 million people will move in China’s cities by 2025. With skyrocketing electricity demand and cities plagued by blackouts, greener buildings in China aren’t just a nice, tree-hugging idea – they are a necessity.
As with most statistics in China, the sheer scale of construction boggles. The country is furiously erecting a full half the world’s new buildings every year, and becoming a laboratory for architectural eco-experiments.
At the forefront of the sustainable construction boom is MOMA Chairman Zhang Lei, who has developed more than 10 million square feet of green buildings in China and Australia.
Earlier this year, Zhang Lei inked a landmark $3.5 million dollar research and development deal with the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada as part of a global strategy to promote green building.
Lei chose Vancouver because it is a hub of green building talent – currently the city is home to over 1,000 green building companies and has the greenest building standards in North America.
In the coming years, architects, engineers and students from MOMA and UBC will use their combined expertise to imagine smarter, more sustainable homes for both sides of the Pacific.
Born out of smoggy necessity, it’s almost certain that the buildings of the future will by constructed in China. With some foresight and leadership, they could be designed in Canada.
The Human Element is a video series that uncovers a new era of innovation shaping Canada’s ties with China. Check back in the coming months for accompanying blog posts on the surprising ways human relationships are transforming our future with China. This series was produced as part of an Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada Media Fellowship by Flow Creative Studios.