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Human behavior, building code and urban residential energy consumption in China

Authors Zhang, Shengyuan
Issue Date 2014
Summary The urban residential sector, as a significant component of the building sector, has been attributed considerable significance in dealing with energy concerns in China. Both the building characteristic and human behaviors are increasingly recognized as significant energy contributors in the urban residential sector. Various policy instruments are correspondingly employed to achieve the ambitious energy saving target by the government. Keys among them are the implementation of building codes and certain financial incentives to encourage behavioral change. However, little is known about the efficacy of these instruments. This paper is the very first ex post empirical study to evaluate the effect of the building codes by employing a Fixed Effects estimator and a panel dataset for 31 provinces and province-level cities in urban China from 1998 to 2010. In addition, this paper also employs for the first time a multivariate statistical approach to estimate the role of behaviors in urban residential energy consumption in China, based on 4685 household samples in seven Chinese cities and a heteroskedasticity-robust Ordinal Least Square (OLS) model. There are three major findings. First, the building codes reduce fossil fuel consumption in North China and the magnitude is comparable with engineering simulations because the baseline assumptions on human behavior are consistent with actual behavior. In contrast, the impact of the building codes on electricity consumption in South China is marginal and the magnitude is significantly lower than that reflected in engineering simulations, due to the inconsistency of the real and baseline human behaviors. The building codes are not effective in reducing other energy consumption in urban residential buildings. Second, human behavior accounts for much more energy variations in surveyed households than income and other demographic attributes. Households with efficient energy behaviors are associated only with older age residents, as reflected by the sample data. Third, the willingness of saving is translated into energy saving behaviors though only marginally. In addition, people desiring for smaller dwellings also uses less energy in households. These findings have significant implications and suggest a need to rethink China's building codes and the role of human behavior in China's energy and urbanization policies.
Note Thesis (M.Phil.)--Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, 2014
Language English
Format Thesis
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