China’s First WFC Nearly Net Zero Project Design Meet Government Standards

By: Weizhou Fu

Architect, Canada Wood China

The China Academy of Building Research (CABR), China’s largest and most diverse research institution in the building industry, has completed an assessment report on the design of the Changzhou Nearly Zero Energy Wood-Frame Project. The report concluded the light wood-frame project meets the Technical Standard for Nearly Zero Energy Buildings required by China. It will be China’s first wood-frame project consuming nearly net-zero energy.

A nearly zero-energy building (NZE) is a building with nearly zero net energy consumption, meaning the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis almost equals the amount of renewable energy created on the site. 

The CABR’s recognition of the Changzhou Nearly Zero Energy wood-frame project is a milestone for the government’s endorsement of wood’s contribution to energy saving in the construction sector. It will also strengthen the industry/market’s understanding that wood-frame construction (WFC) is an ideal solution to NZE, thus creating more opportunities for wood applications in China. 

Canada Wood China (CW China) supported the Jiangsu Urban and Rural Construction College to explore the Changzhou demonstration project jointly. It will be a two-storey guesthouse with light wood-frame structure, covering a building area of 592 m2, with eight guest rooms. Glue-laminated timber (GLT) will be used in the hall and entrance. CW China helped design the building, which is energy efficient, especially with regards to insulation, airtightness and its ventilation system. 

 Images: Designs for the Changzhou demonstration project.

The project will demonstrate the capabilities of WFC with very low energy consumption to Chinese officials, developers and the industry. This project was selected as part of China’s National Key Research and Development Program of the 13th Five-Year Plan, a framework for government policies from 2016-2020.

On November 13, 2019, builder Shenzhou Yuanlin was selected through a rigorous bidding process to carry out this demo project. The design review and final construction permit application was completed. The Jiangsu Urban and Rural Construction College plans to start the construction of its foundations in late December 2019.

Image: The interior plan of the building.


In September 2019, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD) approved the Technical Standard for Nearly Zero Energy Buildings as national standard with the number GB/T51350–2019, which came into force on September 1, 2019. As the world’s first national standard that clearly defines related concepts, it will be conducive to not only energy conservation but also creating greater economic benefits. It is part of the effort China’s government has made in recent years to save energy and combat pollution.

China is the world’s largest consumer of coal, which provides 62 percent of the country’s electricity. It is the primary source of carbon emissions and air pollution. Rapid industrialization, urbanization and economic growth have led to China becoming the world’s biggest energy user, and it is increasingly dependent on foreign countries for fossil fuels. China faces an energy shortage in the near future.

China’s commitment under the Paris Agreement targets a carbon dioxide emissions peak in 2030. By that year, it plans to reduce the carbon intensity of GDP by 60-65% of 2005 levels. It is supported by China’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020), which includes cutting emissions in the construction industry.

China is taking measures to make its buildings more energy efficient through the development of a high-performance building system. The goal is to adopt increasingly stringent standards for new construction and energy efficiency retrofits for existing buildings. By 2020, China plans to increase the share of green buildings in new construction to 50 percent.