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PNNL: China Building Codes Could Cut Energy Use by 22%

Leon Walker

PNNLChina can build its way to a more energy efficient future — one house, apartment and retail store at a time — by improving the rules regulating these structures, according to a study by the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

PNNL scientists at the Joint Global Change Research Institute, a partnership with the University of Maryland in College Park, Md., have created a unique model that projects how much energy can be saved with changes to China’s building energy codes.

Already home to almost one-fifth the world’s population, China is not only growing, but rapidly developing. And it’s consuming more energy along the way. Reducing energy consumption through building codes is a win-win for China and the rest of the world, by reducing fossil fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions while still promoting economic growth and energy security.

The study focused on realistic improvements to codes that regulate building aspects like insulation and lighting. Improvements to these codes could reduce building energy consumption by up to 22 percent by the end of this century, compared to a no-change scenario, the researchers found.

China has much to gain from improving codes for new urban-residential and commercial buildings-a 13 percent cut in building energy demand by the end of the century. China can accomplish this goal if it continues its current rate of improvements, researchers said.

China could cut another 9 percent by adding rural buildings to mandatory new-building codes and retrofit requirements for all buildings. Altogether, that’s a 22 percent reduction in energy used by buildings by the end of the century, according to the study.

In November, scientists at PNNL and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory announced that they are developing a “Retrocommissioning Sensor Suitcase” to help small and medium sized buildings reap the energy savings of retrocommissioning, which only large buildings have traditionally been able to afford.

Fine tuning of building systems, known as retrocommissioning, can save as much as 15 percent of a building’s annual energy use and pay for itself in less than a year, according to Berkeley Lab.

The Retrocommissioning Sensor Suitcase project is funded by the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Building Technologies Office.



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