China’s Little Green Book – Thomas L. Friedman

From the New York Times (read the full text on Peking Duck):

There are only about 60 gold-standard green buildings in the world – that is, buildings certified by the U.S. Green Building Council as having been made with the materials and systems that best reduce waste, emissions and energy use. One of those buildings is in Beijing – China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, at 55 Yuyuantan Nanlu Street.

I toured it the other day with Robert Watson from the Natural Resources Defense Council, who advised China in designing the building. What struck me most was how much stuff in China’s greenest building was labeled “Made in China.”

Get used to it. In China, conservation is not a “personal virtue,” as Dick Cheney would say. Today it is a necessity.

…You think China is cleaning our clock now with cheap clothing? Wait a decade, when we’ll have to import our green technology from Beijing, just as we have to import hybrid motors today from Japan.

Green China will be much more challenging than Red China. Look around the nine-story Ministry of Science and Technology building. Yes, a lot of cool things here are from Europe, and some are from the U.S.

But what about the porous pavement bricks, made of fly ash, a byproduct of coal combustion that allows storm water to flow through and be reabsorbed into the Beijing aquifer? Made in China. The photovoltaic panels that provide 10 percent of the building’s electricity from sunlight? Made in China. The solar hot water system? Made in China. The soil substitute in the building’s roof garden that is 75 percent lighter than regular dirt and holds three to four times more water per cubic foot? Made in China. The concrete building blocks filled with insulating foam that keeps you warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer? Made in China, by a U.S.-owned company. The water-free urinals? Made for the China market by a U.S.-owned company.

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