BRE and China’s top university to collaborate on built environment research

Building science centre BRE and China’s top university – Tsinghua in Beijing – have announced a programme of joint research on Green and Low Carbon Urbanisation that is designed to support the Chinese government’s priorities for sustainable development and air quality improvement.

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The announcement comes at a crucial time for Beijing when air pollution threatens to bring the city to a standstill with pollutant particulate levels more than ten times the recommended level of the World Health Organisation.

Three key projects will be conducted as part of the collaboration. The first will be the development and trialling of a new post occupancy evaluation tool for offices, schools and health facilities that considers the combined effect of a range of issues including air quality, noise, temperature, humidity and lighting and the related impact on productivity and wellbeing of occupiers. This will draw upon existing work being carried out across a large number of test buildings both in China and the UK.

The partners will also work jointly to validate a Healthy City Index which assesses the status of a city’s built assets in relation to their support for the health and wellbeing of their citizens. This will build on work both partners have already carried out in this area and signifies a new approach to ‘value’ in the context of the urban built environment.

The partners will also conduct a mapping study between China’s 3 Star Green Building Standard (currently used on 3% of developments in the country) and international standard BREEAM. The study will help China benchmark their future developments against global equivalents as sustainability standards become mandatory in provinces across the country.

Deborah Pullen MBE Director of Research BRE said ‘This represents a great opportunity to establish a collaborative base of research that will benefit both countries as migration to cities increases in line with significant growth in the global population.  Our BRE Future Cities research programme has been focussed on these challenges for some time – this is a great opportunity to broaden the scope with our new Tsinghua partners’‘

Opportunities are also being explored for the creation of a range of sustainability demonstration exemplar buildings in Beijing that address China-specific sustainability challenges like water and waste water treatment, waste reduction and recycling and air quality.

Professor Yin Zhi, Director of Key laboratory at Tsinghua said ‘Both partners have profound professional backgrounds and strong scientific research abilities –  through their joint efforts they will build a long term partnership that strengthens both countries’ green, low carbon and urbanisation development’.

The collaboration has come about following the visit by Premier Li Keqiang to BRE in 2011, when he made a commitment to encourage partnership on sustainable development between China and UK.

Also, speaking at the ceremony, Paul Wills First Secretary at the British Embassy said ‘Today is an important step forward in UK and China in the green and low carbon urbanisation sphere. Research is the foundation on which government relies to make policy both at national and local level; and on which business relies to make sound commercial decisions on the solutions it adopts’.

For further information please contact Linda McKeown, BRE, email mckeownl@bre.co.uk, tel 01923 664569.