Old and green: Environmental performance of traditional Chinese housing

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
17th ICOMOS General Assembly Symposium, 2011, pp. 349 - 356 (8)
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Traditional Chinese housing, like vernacular housing everywhere, is under threat. Because such housing is considered wasteful in its use of land or energy, it is often demolished for more intensive and supposedly more energy-efficient housing, despite the resulting loss of embodied energy and urban amenity. Although the conservation movement has helpled to preserve some traditional housing, the need for old buildings to meet modern standards of comfort and environmental performance remains a potential economic deterrent to conservation. For this reason, a team from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) undertook in 2009-10 the first stage of a research project to study the environmental performance of traditional Chinese housing in Xiao He Zhi Jie, Hangzhou. The UTS team of Dr Grace Ding, Dr Janet Ge and Peter Phillips was assisted by staff and students from Zhejiang University and local members of ICOMOS China, and by a research grant from the Australia-China Council. Temperature and humidity monitors were installed in six local houses, and in a modern unit in a nearby multi-storey building as a control. Readings were made every hour and the data collected every fortnight for a full year. This paper reports on the project and its initial findings, including the surprisingly small difference in environmental performance between traditional and convertional modern construction.
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