China’s first mandatory standard of carbon emission in the construction sector, GB 55015-2021 General Specification of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Resources Utilisation in Construction Sector (hereinafter referred to as “the Specification”), will take effect on April 1, 2022. The Specification requires the carbon intensity in newly-built residences and public buildings to be reduced by an average level of 40% compared to the level stipulated by the energy efficiency designing standards in 2016, and the average carbon intensity to be reduced by up to 7 kgCO/(m·a).


In terms of energy efficiency, the Specification requires the average designed energy consumption level of newly-built residential buildings and public buildings to be further lowered by 30% and 20%, respectively, based on the results achieved after the implementation of the energy efficiency designing standard in 2016. Specifically, the average rate of energy efficiency of residential buildings in severe cold and cold regions should be 75%; residential buildings in other climatic regions should be 65%, while public construction 72%. Furthermore, all the buildings should be embodied with energy efficiency design, regardless of whether they are newly-built buildings, expanded buildings, rebuilt buildings or renovated buildings for energy efficiency.


Regarding the utilisation of renewable resources, the Specification requires that overall plans for architectural ensemble and the individual building should set stages for the utilization of renewable resources. For instance, the Specification requires newly-built buildings to be equipped with solar energy systems; the design service life of solar thermal collectors in solar thermal systems shall be more than 15 years, while that of photovoltaic modules in photovoltaic power systems be over 25 years.


Based on the Specification, the statistics of energy consumption in the construction sector should include the amount of power consumption, coal/gas/fuel consumption, heat consumption in central heating, cooling consumption in central cooling, as well as the utilization rate of renewable resources. The energy consumption system in the construction sector should be managed based on the statistics for category, region, and subentry. Also, the renewable energy system should be statistically managed separately.


The following points about the Specification are especially noteworthy for relevant enterprises:


  • Wide coverage. The Specification covers the regulation on newly-built buildings, existing buildings, renewable energy systems, construction debugging/delivery-receiving acceptance/operation/management, etc.
  • Clarified mandatory standard on carbon intensity. The past standards on construction-related carbon emissions are only for recommended implementation. For example, the GB/T 50378-2019 Green Buildings Assessment Standard, GB/T 51141-2015 Green Retrofitting of Existing Buildings Assessment Standard in 2015 and its draft for comments in 2020 do not have any mandatory requirements for carbon intensity.
  • Improvement of the level of energy efficiency design for newly-built buildings. The Specification raises the requirements for the limitation of thermal performance of residential buildings and public buildings. What distinguishes the Specification from the currently effective energy efficiency standards applicable to most areas is that the average level of designed energy consumption is reduced by 30% and 20%, respectively, based on the current national standards and sector standards. Furthermore:
    • The energy efficiency ratio of residential buildings in severe cold and cold regions should be 75%.
    • The energy efficiency ratio of residential buildings in other climatic regions should be 65%.
    • The energy efficiency ratio of public buildings should be 72%
  • Newly-added specification of energy efficiency design for buildings in mild regions and industrial buildings. Compared to the GB 51245-2017 Uniform Standard of Industrial Buildings Energy Efficiency Design, the Specification introduces the energy efficiency design specification for buildings in mild regions and the industrial buildings, thus expanding the application range of industrial standards. Industrial constructions in mild regions must therefore be in strict compliance with the Specification.
  • Overall improvement of the requirement for the efficiency of air-conditioning (HVAC) system and of illumination.