Chinese Zero Emission Buildings with Swiss Know-How (ZEB China)

By upgrading building emission standards, supporting demonstration buildings and enhancing capacities of professionals with Switzerland’s leading know-how on sustainable construction, the project will support low-carbon development of China’s building sector, which is the biggest in the world. It will also benefit the public health by improving the thermal comfort of buildings and reducing air pollution resulting from heating and cooling. 

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Climate change and environment
Energy conservation & efficiency
Energy policy
01.01.2020 - 28.02.2025
CHF  4’582’000

Today, buildings and the construction sector account for nearly 40% of the world’s energy related CO2 emissions. China’s building sector is the biggest in the world, accounting for one third of China’s energy demand. Considering the 2050 carbon neutral goal of Paris Agreement, increasing the share of zero emission buildings in China is an urgent and important step in order to reach the target.

Energy efficient construction is growing rapidly, but China has by far not tapped its full potential. At the same time, China lags behind in the formulation of carbon emission standards of buildings. China has recognized the urgency and importance of promoting energy efficient and low emission construction and willing to learn Swiss experience on promoting buildings with highest energy efficiency and environmental performance. 

Objectives The overall project goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enable the carbon neutral development of the building sector in China by sharing Swiss know-how on sustainable and zero emission building. 
Target groups

·  Central and local Chinese governmental Authorities
   (Policy Makers, Standard Development Boards)

·  Building designers and planning professionals

·  Academia and training institutions

·  Private real estate developers and public investors

-  Owners, inhabitants and users of the demonstration buildings

Medium-term outcomes

Outcome 1 - Standards: Chinese standards on building energy efficiency and carbon emission become more ambitious.

Outcome 2 - Demonstrations: Substantial investments are mobilized to construct new or retrofit existing buildings according to zero emission standards.

Outcome 3 - Capacity Building: Capacities on emission reduction in buildings are strengthened and the Sino-Swiss joint know-how is disseminated.  


Expected results:  

·      2030/2060 building related carbon emission reduction potential quantified for China based on Swiss experience.

·  Evidence-based suggestions for updating
and strengthening National Standard for
Zero Emission Building

·  Demonstration buildings are constructed
or retrofitted according to the technical
guidance of the project expert team.

·  Active Platform for facilitation of Sino-Swiss
business cooperation on Green and energy
efficient building technologies and solutions

-  Professionals and students trained with
stronger capacities to design zero emission building

Results from previous phases:  

Strong track-record: Through its Global Programme Climate Change and Environment, SDC has successfully leveraged Swiss know-how on building energy efficiency in various countries and regions in Asia and Latin America. The lessons learnt in an earlier collaboration on Low Carbon Cities in China  have also guided the project design

Confirmed potential: A comparative study of the Swiss and Chinese building standards confirms the potential of adapting Swiss know-how to Chinese context.

Tender procedure: Implementing agency identified following the SDC’s standard procedure of open tender for international bids. Partner Risk Assessment has been conducted in line with SDC internal procedures and guidelines.

Established baseline: A survey of current building energy efficiency incentive policies in Chinese provincial and municipal level establishes the baseline for this project.

MoU signed: In November 2020, a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with the Chinese Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
Foreign academic and research organisation
Private sector
  • Foreign private sector South/East
  • Swiss Private Sector
  • Research Organisation of South East

Coordination with other projects and actors

(i) Platforms and organizations: Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, in particular their Asian Roadmap; International Energy Agency; Deutsche Energie-Agentur;

(ii) Projects: Indo-Swiss Building Energy Efficiency Project; Strengthening Capacities for Energy Efficiency in buildings in Latin America;

(iii) Actors: Chinese Ministry of Housing and Rural-Urban Development, provinces, municipalities, universities, construction and real estate companies.

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    4’582’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    3’222’065
Project phases Phase 1 01.01.2020 - 28.02.2025   (Current phase)