China's building codes categorize its regions in two ways: by zones based on heating needs, and into urban and rural areas. The heating zone is the northern section of the country, including Beijing, where heating of buildings is permitted during the winter. The transition zone is approximately the middle third of the country, including Shanghai, and has significant demand for space heating in the winter and space cooling in the summer. The region south of the transition zone, which includes Guangzhou and Shenzhen, is characterized by a hot climate and significant cooling demands.
The Ministry of Construction (MOC) has authority at the national level over building codes in China, while local governments can develop their own codes as long as they are more stringent than the national code. To date, the emphasis has been on developing energy efficiency standards for residential buildings, although, in the summer of 2002, the MOC approved the development of a national code for commercial buildings.
In the northern zone (heating zone), residential building energy codes have existed since the early 1990s, although they have been enforced only since the late 1990s in Beijing and Tianjin. In the transition zone (formally known as the hot-summer cold-winter region), local residential energy standards were developed in the late 1990s for numerous cities and provinces, including Chongqing, Wuhan, Jiangsu, and Shanghai. This was followed by a national effort that ended in the promulgation of a national energy efficiency standard for the transition zone in October 2001. A residential standard for the southern zone (formally known as the hot-summer warm-winter region) was also initiated in July 2001, with completion planned for the end of 2002 and promulgation in early 2003. Work on the national commercial building energy standard was started in September 2002 (Huang and Tu 2001, Huang 2002).
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