Inspired by a booming economy and new spending power, the people of China want the advantages that their Western counterparts have: more living space, more comfort and more amenities. Studies by MIT researchers working with colleagues from Chinese universities and development companies suggest that those dreams can be fulfilled without necessarily adopting the energy-intensive practices of the West.
Because of China's rapid economic growth, energy consumption is also rising sharply. By 2020, energy consumed for residential and commercial buildings could rise to fully a third of the energy use by the nation of 1.3 billion people. Sustainable, energy-efficient building design has thus become very important. Researchers in MIT's Building Technology Program and their Chinese collaborators have shown that applying some of China's traditional approaches and other simple techniques to modern building designs can yield substantial benefits.