Q: Previous sustainable initiatives in China have met with a lot of skepticism as to whether they actually produce real benefit as opposed to good PR. Is all this sustainable building hype around the Expo more than "greenwashing?"
A: "Greenwashing" may still happen in some projects, but most developers or landowners are now aware of where government policies are going. In many cases sustainable building not only reduces operating costs on electricity and water bills, but it also improves many social aspects and achieves better business. However, a credible evaluation system is needed to benchmark buildings against sustainability performance so that developers and land owners can make design decisions by considering capital investment, life-cycle costs and level of building sustainability achieved.
Q: What is needed in terms of regulation and feasibility?
A: Most clients are expecting not only a feasible sustainable building solution, but also workable strategies for all building aspects… not just gimmicks. Technical guidelines on sustainable system designs and incentive schemes have been launched by Beijing to promote green building design in last two years, and we expect even more ambitious reform in the future.
Q: Do you think that Shanghai’s efforts to produce an eco-friendly World Expo reflect an honest commitment to sustainable development?
A: It is mandatory that all construction projects planned for the World Expo must follow a platform of sustainability guidelines. However, the level of sustainability achieved by individual pavilions will vary depending on vision, design and financial constraints. It will be difficult to give a general answer to the question, but the Expo will provide a good platform for different countries to showcase and share their ideas.
Q: Is China truly ready for ambitious eco-reform?
A: Yes. The Chinese government well understands there is no other way for China to sustain its growth other than to move towards eco-reform. The cost of ignoring the environment is just too high for China.