AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 636

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Session 636: Urban Ecology in Asian Cities: Urban and Building Policies for Climate Change Mitigation in East and Southeast Asian countries

Organizer: Ying Hua, Cornell University, USA

Benefitted from increasing global integration, the East and Southeast Asian countries are emerging as a more integrated economy with rapid economic growth in the past three decades. Economic development took off in Asia along with the shift of global manufacturing to developing countries in Asia for natural resources and cheap labor. We have also seen rapid urbanization in this region over the past 15 years with the fastest speed in the world’s history. In the meanwhile, the rapid economic growth and the accompanying rapid urbanization and expansion of the built environment in Asia are accompanied with resources depletion, environment degradation, and emissions rocketing. Compared to the technological-level discussion about engineering, architecture and urban planning solutions, there are fewer studies examining the political economic factors behind environmental issues associated with rapid urbanization in this region, as well as limited understanding of stakeholder interactions and the effectiveness of strategies to integrate stakeholders. In response, this panel invites scholars from Japan, China, France and US for an insightful discussion on sustainable urban and building policies in East and Southeast Asian cities, and models for collaborative effort by multiple stakeholders. The goal is to initiate interdisciplinary conversation and advance research to understand the interwoven environmental issues of cities and buildings, and to address urgent challenges the cities are facing for local environment conservation, global climate change mitigation and adaptation. The geographic adjacencies and close economic ties in this region provide a platform for future transnational studies on environmental politics with local, regional, or global focus.

Urban and Building Policy Framework for Climate Change Mitigation in Post-Kyoto Era
Ying Hua, Cornell University, USA

As a 2008 Abe Fellow awarded by the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership and the Social Science Research Council, Dr. Hua is currently carrying out a comparative study on post-Kyoto building policy framework in Japan, the U.S., and China. Compared to the literature on political ecology in Europe and North America, there are fewer empirical and theoretical studies on this topic in the context of Asian countries. Recently, there is increasing number of environmental policy studies in Asia, but most of them focused on environmental issues related to sectors such as forest, agriculture, and energy, and few studies looked at urban ecology issues and the building sector in Asia. Dr. Hua will introduce the findings from her research on building sector climate change policy framework and stakeholders’ involvement in both Japan and China, and discuss how the top-down emissions reduction targets translate to changes in practice. The increasing urban development projects in East and Southeast Asia are attracting global investment accompanied by consultants, designers, and engineers from worldwide. Recognizing the environmental challenges, increasing numbers of so-called “low-carbon” or “eco-city” development emerged as models for future urban development. There are increasing transnational discussion on technological issues of engineering, architecture, and urban design for solving environmental problems in cities. Research investigating political economic factors behind technical issues and drivers to align efforts from multiple stakeholders for sustainable urban development is urgently in need. Dr. Hua will explore the possibility for multiple stakeholders in urban and building projects to collaboratively address both local and global environmental issues, the effectiveness of current policy instruments in promoting this collaborative effort towards sustainable urban development goal.

Urban Morphology and Sustainability in Asian Cities
Serge Salat, Independent Scholar, France

To 2030, Asia’s urban population will grow by around 70% to more than 2.6 billion. An additional billion people will become urban habitats. “This transformation will involve major change for Asian societies with new forms of housing, employment, consumption, and social interaction for individuals and communities” (Asian Development Bank, 2006). Most cities in Asia share some common urban development challenges, including rapid urban growth and environmental degradation. Especially for the coastal areas of East and Southeast Asian countries, the aggregation of population and expansion of urbanized area is not only threatening the natural environment but also making the region vulnerable to possible climate change impacts. Dr. Salat will present urban morphology studies on urban forms and flows in Asian cities, which will provide a mathematical method to help understand complex urban problems. This innovative scientific approach using complementary metric tools to analyze cities’ urban structure and fabric as well as related human activities at various scales, can predict the energy consequences of critical choices of city form at the planning stage or can assess existing cities for carbon plans. Urban metrics provides a structure and an order able to clarify complex urban problems, and helps finding solutions in bioclimatic, energetic but also social and economic topics.

How Energy Efficient Buildings Can Help Make China’s Rapid Urbanization Sustainable?
Kevin Mo, Independent Scholar, China

Residential and commercial buildings are one of China’s largest energy consumers. China’s rapid urbanization – around 270 million Chinese are expected to move from rural areas to cities by 2020 – and its ever-growing middle class ensure that the energy consumed by buildings will remain a pressing issue well into the future. Dr. Mo will talk about how energy-efficient buildings can help make China’s rapid urbanization sustainable. Among the key strategies, rating the energy performance of buildings is an emerging policy tool. Steps to implement a national building-energy-labeling standard for new and existing buildings will be discussed, and results of a China-US comprehensive comparative study will reported. Although rating policies and practices between the two countries differ in terms of approach, structure, administration and support, the goal of encouraging greater energy efficiency and fewer greenhouse gas emissions in the building sector is shared. Dr. Mo will provide the first comparative analysis between building energy rating policies in the United States and China. The United States has several rating and labeling systems either deployed to the market or under development, while China’s Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development is piloting a more comprehensive building rating and labeling program. This presentation dissects the policies and programs in each country and explores opportunities for alignment related to rating methodology, policy structure, program administration and workforce development.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Green Building Policies
Yuko Nishida, Independent Scholar, Japan

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) has been putting in a significant effort to reinforce its Green Building Program to contribute to emissions reduction goal. Owners of mid- and large-size buildings are mandated to submit plans on energy and environmental conservation. Mid- and large-size new constructions or extensions are required to satisfy the TMG's minimum standards on energy conservation. Building owners are obliged to provide energy performance assessment statements of their buildings at the time of sale. The goal is to establish a system for evaluating buildings in the building market for environment-friendly features, so that owners will be more encouraged to adopt environmental design. There is also a Green Labeling System, which requires condominium sellers to indicate their buildings' energy and environmental performance in any advertising for sale or rental. Building owners will also be encouraged to consider renewable energy technologies. Ms. Nishida, from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, will introduce the detailed contents, development processes, and initial application outcomes of the aforesaid mandatory and voluntary tools, and discussion the effectiveness of the variety of tools for emissions reduction in the building sector.

Vernacular Strategies for Sustainable Urban and Building Development
Xiaodi Yang, Carnegie Mellon University, China

The indigenous knowledge developed in different regions during the long history of human development in Asia has contributed tremendously to local social reform, economic development, and environment conservation. Some traditional practices and indigenous approaches to knowledge remained relevant and valuable, while distinctive from the western model. Asian countries have the potential to create knowledge from within the regions, especially when facing the unprecedented challenges of climate change mitigation and adaptation. Mr. Yang will take building sector as an example to explore the contribution of traditional wisdom to the sustainable development, as a critical and crucial complement to the current single emphasis on technology advancement and efficiency improvement strategies when we search for effective solutions to protect environment and to avoid catastrophic consequences. He will analyze the value of the traditional approaches to knowledge of building design and construction, based on empirical studies of vernacular strategies in China’s different climate zones. Vernacular design strategies featuring passive strategies, cascading concepts and conservation behavior need to be interwoven with the whole design and construction process for sustainable building development. Japan’s experience will be introduced for a comparison between China and Japan, with the intention to examine the impact from cultural difference and policy context.