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Asia's 6 biggest construction projects of 2017

For the world's most expensive infrastructure and transport developments, look no further

A construction site in the Beijing Central Business District. Sean K/Shutterstock


Some of the highest-value construction projects in the world for this year are all located in Asia, as per the Arcadis International Construction Costs 2017. Construction markets in the region are expected to see an expansion of 5 to 7 percent a year, despite easing growth rate over the past 18 months.

Despite the exorbitant cost of the region’s biggest projects, they are all worth it in the end. Last year, the built environment contributed to USD36 trillion of the global GDP.

Count down to the biggest, highest-value construction projects in Asia this year:

6. Chengdu Tianfu International Airport

Construction works in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China. LP2 Studio/Shutterstock[/caption]
China will increase the number of civil airports to 260 within three years. One of the more high-profile air complexes will be the Tianfu International Airport in Chengdu, which will receive a USD11-billion outlay. It will be the first airport in the country to have decentralised terminals. Up to 90 million passengers and two million tons of cargo are expected to pass through the air hub every year by 2045.

5. Beijing Daxing International Airport

Construction at Beijing Central Business District in April 2016. testing/Shutterstock[/caption]
Of the 130-plus airports cropping up across mainland China, the Beijing Daxing International Airport is the biggest yet. It will serve as a replacement of the Beijing Nanyuan Airport, and is on track for a 2019 opening. With a construction value of USD13 billion, Daxing Airport is expected to handle at least 80 million passengers every year.

4. Jeddah Economic City

A view of Jeddah Corniche at the edge of the Red Sea, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. drpyan/Shutterstock[/caption]
The project formerly known as Kingdom City is a USD20-billion construction behemoth of homes, hotels, and office towers. This includes Jeddah Tower, set to be one of the world’s tallest structures upon completion. Jeddah Economic City will sprawl for two square miles.

More: What can Sri Lanka do to attract more foreign direct investment?

3. Dubai Al Maktoum Airport

Construction workers having a break in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Rastislav Sedlak SK/Shutterstock[/caption]
Dubai pushes the envelope yet again in superlative construction projects with a USD33-billion investment on its the Al Maktoum International Airport. Set to relieve increasingly monstrous air traffic in the emirate, Al Maktoum is envisioned to become the world’s largest airport with an annual capacity of 220 million passengers and 16 million tons of cargo.

2. Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor

Golden hour over building construction in Noida, Delhi, India. Amlan Mathur/Shutterstock[/caption]
As its name suggests, this project covers a wide swath of the continent between the largest metropolises of India. Valued at USD90 billion, the corridor will encompass 24 industrial zones, across seven states and eight smart cities. Part and parcel of the project is the 1,500-kilometre long Western Dedicated Freight Corridor, set to be finished at the end of 2019.

1. One Belt, One Road

Construction site at Shanghai's Bund area. Captain Yeo/Shutterstock[/caption]
Taking inspiration from the Silk Route of yore, China is rabidly paving the path for its ambitious One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative. This is China’s biggest spending spree yet: a mammoth, 13-year investment in energy and transport infrastructure that spans Eurasia, Central Asia, Oceania, North Africa, and Southeast Asia. The program is two-pronged, focusing on landbased projects as well as maritime investments. OBOR, currently valued at USD150 billion, is widely regarded as China’s launchpad into a bigger role in global affairs.


A sustainable Chinese city? There's no such thing

Mark L. Clifford weighs in on China’s leadership in green building and energy efficiency

[caption id="attachment_59565" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]Shanghai. Image: Patrick Foto/Shutterstock Shanghai. Image: Patrick Foto/Shutterstock[/caption]

Last month, Shenzhen beat 80 cities in China and Europe to claim the top prize at The Euro-China Green & Smart City Awards. It’s another proverbial feather on the cap for China, a country touted in recent months as an unlikely frontrunner in the effort to mitigate climate change.

Viewing any one Chinese city as an out-and-out exemplar in sustainability may miss the point, however. “I don’t think that any city in China can be called green or sustainable,” said Asia Business Council executive director Mark Clifford, the keynote speaker at last year’s Property Report Congress in China. Although the Chinese government has heavily invested in building codes since the 1980s, they remain “fairly lax” and allow buildings in the country to use 80 percent more energy than their US counterparts.

[caption id="attachment_59571" align="aligncenter" width="740"]Mark Clifford speaking at Property Report Congress 2015 Mark Clifford speaking at Property Report Congress 2015[/caption]

If current trends were to hold, energy use by the Chinese building sector is on track to double by 2050, Clifford warned.

The onus is particularly heavy on China, rated as the largest contributing country to emissions from fossil fuel and cement production, according to a 2012 Belfer Center study. China’s building sector is expected to use more energy than any comparable sector in other countries by 2030.

That said, China has shown a propensity for atoning for its massive carbon footprint, if not missteps against the planet. “Recent studies have shown that China could keep building energy use roughly flat through 2050 if it invests in high-efficiency technologies and best practices,” said Clifford, lauding Beijing and Tianjin’s adoption of building standards that are as much as 15 percent more stringent than national standards. “That’s good news.”

More: Singapore ranks second in the world for green buildings

China’s gumption to reverse global warming can be attributed to equal parts self-preservation and political maneuvering. The pall of air pollution hangs heavily on dozens of cities in the mainland, particularly in the capital Beijing.

“Chinese leaders want to improve the quality of life in their nation’s cities by reducing air pollution; win large shares of promising export markets for green technologies; and increase China’s 'soft power' in international relations,” said Matthew E. Kahn, professor of economics and spatial statistics at the University of Southern California. “Taking aggressive action to cut carbon emissions helps China in all three areas."

[caption id="attachment_59563" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]Smog in Beijing. Image: designbydx/Shutterstock Smog in Beijing. Image: designbydx/Shutterstock[/caption]

Moneyed citizens are not unheard of to emigrate from China literally in search of breathing space — a need that real estate firms should take into account. “Every developer in Beijing or in Shanghai is competing more or less on an equal footing in the same smoggy environment throughout the city,” Clifford said. “The question is how this will play out in the future. Will we really see domestic demand fall because more middle-class families move abroad? We have seen significant numbers of Chinese families moving abroad in part because of pollution – the impact on Vancouver is an obvious example.”

In the end, it is difficult to dismiss the strides China has made in the pursuit of green building. In a ranking released by USGBC last year, China emerged as the number one country in terms of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Boasting 34.62 million gross square meters of certified LEED space, China bested such countries as Canada, India, Brazil, and South Korea in sustainable building design and construction.

With big shifts on the global stage imminent, and the US preparing to renege on its own gains in the fight against climate change, China is a green revelation.

Read next: Could green building finally be taking off in China?

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