MOHURD Minister Chen Zhenggao meets Canada’s Minister of International Trade
On April 24th in Beijing I joined Minister François-Philippe Champagne’s delegation for a remarkable meeting with MOHURD Minister Chen Zhenggao. The meeting was noteworthy as Minister Chen had wood construction as his sole discussion item. Nor was he interested in talking generalities, his aim was to identify go-ahead strategies to accelerate the uptake of wood building nationally.
Minister Chen noted that the current situation where China consumes 60% of global concrete and 50% steel production was unsustainable – ‘leveling mountains to build houses was a crime’. The Minister was impatient and anxious to see greater progress materialize from joint Canada-China activities promoting wood construction.
The meeting was noteworthy as Minister Chen had wood construction as his sole discussion item
Discussion covered latest trends in tall wood and mid-rise construction. An update on NRCan participation in Tianjin’s Binhai eco-district and the potential to replicate this green building development elsewhere in China highlighted.
Minister Chen was interested in understanding height and area limits for wood construction under current Chinese codes. Recent work by FPInnovations classifying building height distributions in key Chinese provinces and potential greenhouse gas mitigation was discussed. M. Chen was impressed and requested more details.
Minister Champagne thanked MOHURD for recent promulgation of the tall wood building code and ability to build up to 5 stories of pure wood construction. He noted GHG alleviation would be considerably improved if the permissible heights for wood buildings were raised to 8 stories or higher; contingent on progress in fire safety research and future code design.
Both Ministers agreed that training initiatives in both wood construction and forestry should be stepped up. Canada needs to develop additional pathways into the Chinese education network in order to cater to both practitioners and students.
NRCan Minister Jim Carr is scheduled to meet with M. Chen in early June opening the way for further dialogue.