The 11th International Conference on Industrial Ecology (ISIE) conference was held in Leiden (Netherlands) on 2-5 July 2023. Dr. Alessio Mastrucci presented a study conducted by IIASA’s researchers affiliated with the Energy, Climate, and Environment (ECE) program with the title: “Circularity strategies for China’s building sector: a scenario analysis”.

The building stock in China is responsible for an exceptional amount of energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) driven by continuous economic growth and ongoing construction boom. A shift in construction practices and demand reduction for energy-intensive materials, such as steel and concrete, is required to reduce the GHG emissions of buildings construction and contribute to achieving carbon neutrality targets.

In this study, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) researchers explored a set of scenarios for the China’s building sector considering a range of circularity strategies to reduce the demand for energy and construction materials, including reduction of buildings size, extension of the building lifetime, and switch timber-based construction. This study is based on the MESSAGEix-Buildings modelling framework, a sectoral model for the building sector linked to the Integrated Assessment Model (IAM) MESSAGEix-GLOBIOM, used to assess future building stock dynamics, energy and material demands, and CO2 emissions of large-scale building stocks.

The results show that the described circularity measures have the potential to reduce the material demand and associated CO2 emissions for China’s buildings sector up to about 58% by 2060 compared to a reference scenario. The results of this study can be used to support policy decisions at national level to reduce demands for energy and materials and contribute to achieving climate mitigation targets. 

By Alessio Mastrucci, Fei Guo, Xiaoyang Zhong, Bas van Ruijven – IIASA