The market for green building materials in China has surpassed RMB 100 billion (US $15 billion) and is expected to continue growing, according to a study that GCiS China Strategic Research recently conducted. Growth is expected to remain in double digits for much of the next decade as the torrent of construction spreads to China's interior. Greener building standards and rising energy costs are the market's primary propellants, GCiS stated.
The study focused on materials specifically designed to reduce the energy load of a building through insulation and energy production, GCiS Senior Analyst Edward Barlow told GBI. Among the materials examined were autoclaved aerated concrete, expanded polystyrene, extruded polystyrene, low-emissivity glass, and photovoltaic roofing membranes.
"This is a relatively new industry in China, spurred by the high-level government's concern for long-term stability," Barlow said. "Lots of new standards have been promulgated. The issue here is that in China there is a gap between regulations promulgated and enforcement. That is to say a building standard may exist on paper, but it isn't always enforced in practice, and when you get to China's so-called 'second tier' cities, where most of the growth in the construction market is found, there is very uneven enforcement. There also are subsidies. For example, there is a subsidy of US $2 per watt for energy produced by building-integrated photovoltaics. This subsidy was introduced last March." GCiS estimated the U.S. share of the market at approximately 10 percent.
"Going forward, U.S. companies will continue to be innovation leaders, though China and other countries will challenge this with more localized solutions," Barlow said. "The market will continue to grow rapidly, and there are some good companies like Owens Corning, for example, that are poised to do well here. Others will be challenged by the scale and capacity building, which will force prices down. Enforcement will continue to trail enactment, meaning that successful GBM suppliers have to appeal to customers' wallets and not their altruism. US SMEs will have to differentiate themselves, finding niche markets and partners."