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Writer: Yan Xiaoli
Date: July 25, 2013
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China's First Green Office Building

Agenda21 looks pretty much like any other eight-story office building in Beijing. On the inside, though, it's all "green."

China's first LEED certified green building opened in 2005 after careful development by NRDC and its partner, the American-Chinese Coalition Organized for Responsible Development in the 21st Century.

Built at no additional cost, Agenda21 soon won China's first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification -- a worldwide standard for building sustainability -- and the first Green Building Innovation Award from the Chinese government.

"Agenda21 proved to the Chinese market that a green building can be built on a normal budget. Technologies adopted here can be used in any other project." - Jin Ruidong, NRDC's green building project director in Beijing

To date, the 130,000 square-foot building has achieved an energy savings of 73 percent and wastewater savings of 60 percent, compared with typical office buildings.

Agenda21 saves energy from roof to basement, with everything from an insulating roof garden to office lights that shut off when someone leaves the room. At the construction stage, all wood was acquired from sustainable forests. Local materials were used whenever possible, and three-quarters of the construction waste was recycled.

Reflectors lower lighting bills by bringing daylight inside, and ledges lower cooling bills by shading south-facing windows. Solar panels produce 5 percent of the building's power, and a rooftop heat-recycling system captures nearly 78 percent of heat loss. Nearly 80 percent of the rainwater that falls on the building is captured and used for irrigation.

Experts have calculated that if all of China's office buildings were retrofitted to this level of efficiency, enough energy would be saved to render the famous Three Gorges Dam unnecessary. In that spirit, the Chinese government has already used Agenda21 as a model for retrofitting government buildings.

Agenda21 houses two agencies of China's Ministry of Science and Technology. "People who work there speak highly of its comfortable, productive environment," Jin Ruidong says.

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