China has dramatically improved its building energy code compliance rates since 2005, according to a new report from the Global Buildings Network (GBN) and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). The report, “Third Parties in the Implementation of Building Energy Codes in China,” finds that compliance rates in large and medium-sized cities have risen from 53 percent in the design stage and 21 percent in the construction stage in 2005, to 99.5 percent and 95.4 percent, respectively, in 2010. The data comes from China’s annual national inspection of building energy efficiency in urban areas.

For the purposes of the report, the energy code compliance rate is defined as compliance with mandatory items in building energy codes at both the design and construction stages in four megacities, the majority of 30 provincial capitals, and two randomly selected cities in each province. The accumulated compliance rates do not account for small towns or rural buildings.

Between 2005 and 2010, the Chinese government launched several national policies to promote energy code enforcement, such as two new building energy codes and an energy conservation law. The ACEEE and GBN report focuses on the introduction of third parties in compliance enforcement. For the purposes of the report, a third party is defined as a company not affiliated with developers of regulatory bodies, but directly or indirectly involved in the process of ensuring compliance with building energy codes. Examples include building- design companies (such as architecture and engineering firms), drawing- inspection companies, construction companies, and construction-inspection companies.

According to the report, China’s building energy codes include design standards and acceptance codes. Design standards address compliance at the design stage, and China has one standard for public and commercial buildings and three standards for residential buildings. The acceptance codes address compliance during the construction stage and mandate compliance in the final acceptance of a construction project. An extensive breakdown of the process and components is included in the report.

The report also raises issues in the compliance process derived from how compliance rates are defined and how the design data for compliance is calculated. There are concerns that the sample size of the annual inspection, from which the compliance figures are drawn, is too small, and that it does not reflect actual building energy efficiency and enforcement in small towns and rural areas.

Download a PDF of the full report here.