Thursday, April 08, 2010

Buildings in China Crack, Crumble, Collapse -- Don't Last Long

Compared to the less than 30-year average life expectancy of China’s buildings, the average life span of a building in Britain is capable of 132 years and in the United States it is 74 years.

...Alarm was raised several times in 2009 over the poor quality of the country's buildings.

In October of that year, a six-story apartment block collapsed in Central China's Wuhan, Hubei province. It was later found to have been held together by "steel supports as thin as iron wires", according to the subsequent investigation.

Earlier, in June 2009 a 13-floor building in the Lotus Riverside residential complex in Shanghai toppled, killing one worker. An investigation revealed the building's foundations had been undermined by a combination of soil piled 10 m high on one side of the structure and the digging of a 4.6-m underground car garage on the other.

One month later, a construction pit at the site of a planned building in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, collapsed and is believed to have caused massive cracks on nearby residential buildings. _ChinaDaily_via_ImpactLab
China is a massive consumer of the world's materials, energies, and resources, but is China putting the world's resources to good use? We know that China pollutes the world's skies, oceans, and land masses. But is it for a good cause?
"Every year, new buildings in China total up to 2 billion square meters and use up 40 percent of the world's cement and steel, but our buildings can only stand 25 to 30 years on average," Qiu Baoxing, vice-minister of housing and urban-rural development, said at a recent international forum on green and energy-efficient building.

This means the average life span of China's residential buildings is shorter than their intended life span of 50 years at the blueprint stage. As a result, property developers have been urged to extend the median life span of buildings.

Industry sources have added to the mix by stating that the per unit energy consumption of China's short- lived residential buildings is two or three times that of residential buildings in developed nations.

In China, construction waste comprises 30 to 40 percent of the total urban waste.
The construction of a 10,000-sq-m building will create 500 to 600 tons of waste, while the demolition of a 10,000-sq-m old building will create 7,000 to 12,000 tons of waste, according to industrial data.

Space from building demolition in China annually constitutes about 40 percent of the total construction area. _ChinaDaily

Eventually, one must ask the question: "What is the point of it all?" Why is China devouring so much of the world's resources to build a huge volume of construction, when it is all going to be torn down -- or will fall down on its own -- within 30 years? Particularly when most of this new space is unoccupied, and may well never be occupied before collapsing or being demo'd.

For all of those who insist that China is the place to invest one's assets, perhaps it is time to begin to pay attention to what is actually going on.

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