According to the data disclosed by MIIT on 5 February 2021, currently there are 22 Chinese certification bodies accredited for conducting green product certification for building materials. Since the launch of this voluntary certification scheme, green product certificates have been issued to 184 products in 6 areas of green building material products, namely sanitary ceramics, building glass, insulation materials, sealing materials, brick of pottery and porcelain (board), wood and plastic products.
The green product certification scheme originates from the State Council’s efforts to unify the multiple certifications that products needed in China, relating to environmental protection, energy saving, water conservation, recycling, low carbon, renewables, and organic products. The scheme was introduced in the State Council’s Opinions on Establishing a Unified Standards, Certification and Labelling System for Green Products issued in 2016, requiring all products covered to be subject to unified standards, assessment methods, and labelling rules. As a follow-up, in December 2017, the former AQSIQ, SAC, CNCA, Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MoHRUD), and MIIT, jointly issued the Guiding Opinions on Promoting Product Standards, Certification and Labelling for Green Building Materials, aiming to facilitate the implementation of the State Council’s policy in the field of building materials products. Subsequently, in 2019, MIIT, SAMR, and MoHURD released the Green building materials product certification implementation plan, together with the Notice on accelerating the green building materials product certification and production application: the two documents provide more details for the implementation of the green products certification scheme for building materials.
In parallel, the Chinese government has also taken the lead in prioritising green building materials in its procurement activities, thus supporting the implementation of the green product certification scheme. In October 2020, the Ministry of Finance and MoHURD jointly issued the Notice on the Pilot Work of Government Procurement to Support Green Building Materials to Promote Building Quality Improvement. The notice clearly states that: “the government promotes green building materials, such as recyclable building materials, high-strength and durable building materials, green components, green decoration materials, and water-saving and energy-efficient building materials, in government procurement projects”. Indeed, strong support by the government will accelerate the adoption of the green products certification by the market, thus amplifying its influence.
The green products certification is still a voluntary scheme, but with the quick green transition and development strongly promoted by China, products with green attributes will likely obtain more competitive advantages, which to some extent will make the green certification a de facto necessity. The new certification will inevitably impact the competition of green building materials in the Chinese market, and it will gain more influence when more building materials will be included in its scope. Therefore, overseas certification bodies and green building materials manufacturers should pay close attention to the development of the green products certification scheme, to prepare and secure a good position in the future competition.