This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 7/25/2017









Construction Industry value (USD Billion)







Construction Industry Value, Real Growth
(% year to year)







Construction Industry Value
(% of GDP)







Exchange Rates: $1= RMB 6.9
Source: National Sources, BMI Research

China is the world’s largest construction market and the United States is China’s second largest source of imports for the construction industry, with a 13 percent import market share. U.S. exports to China are expected to continue to grow in all subsectors through 2017.

Over the last several years, the construction market in China has grown more modestly as the country looks to shift toward a services-led economy and more sustainable construction policies. One area that will continue to see expanded investment is infrastructure, with as the Chinese government's 'One Belt, One Road' initiative providing opportunities for the country to accelerate transport infrastructure projects. As such, China is expected to maintain its position as the world’s largest construction market and account for a significant share of all new global construction between now and 2020.

China’s Increasing Emphasis on Green Building
Increasing urbanization and national commitments to conserve resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions drive China’s steady commitment to expand the green portion of its massive construction market. In 2014, the State Council Green Building Action Plan mandated that public buildings such as schools, hospitals, museums, stadiums, and affordable housing, as well as any single building area over 20,000 square meters, such as airports, railway stations, hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, offices, and other large public buildings, must meet the green building standards of China’s 3-Star Rating System GBEL (The Green Building Evaluation Label).  This system is administered by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD) and evaluates projects based on six categories: land, energy, water, resource/material efficiency, indoor environmental quality, and operational management.

Besides China’s 3-Star rating system, the U.S. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification is also prevalent in China. In 2015, LEED-certified Grade A office buildings exceeded 5.6 million square meters across 10 major cities in greater China, an increase of 7.4 percent from the previous year, and accounting for 28 percent of the total market, according to a new report published by CBRE and USGBC. The report, “Towards Excellence: Market Performance of Green Commercial Buildings in the Greater China Region," builds upon CBRE’s 2015 report, "New Era of China’s Green Buildings," which found that rental premiums for LEED-certified Grade A offices in key mainland China cities—including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Chengdu—enjoy a higher average rental performance ranging from 10 to 30 percent and are better positioned to weather a downward commercial real estate market. In China’s tier two cities, such as Chengdu, Tianjin, Hangzhou and Wuhan, LEED-certified Grade A office buildings cover a floor area of nearly one million square meters, accounting for an estimated 18 percent of the total Grade A office area.

Smart Cities
Increased and intentional urbanization has also driven creating smart cities across China. China’s 13th FYP reveals that the country aims to optimize urban space through public transport, high-capacity infrastructure, mixed-use development, and green city planning. This will spur smart city development with greater use of low-carbon technology and new energy systems. In support of the nation’s objectives, the National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Land and Resources, Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and Ministry of Transport collectively drafted the “Guidance for Facilitating the Healthy Development of Smart Cities” in 2014. According to the Guidance, China will launch constructions in 10 areas: Smart Transportation, Smart Grid, Smart Water Utility, Smart Environmental Protection, Smart Health Care, Smart Pension, Smart Community, Smart Household, Smart Education, and Smart National Land.

At present, the relevant government departments and various cities in China are actively promoting smart city development. In this respect, investment in Chinese smart cities is expected to exceed RMB1.6 trillion in the coming years.

Ministries such as the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), and the Ministry of Housing and Urban and Rural Development (MOHURD) are jostling to sponsor programs and industry alliances. In 2012, the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) organized the China Strategic Alliance of Smart City Industrial Technology Innovation. In 2013, MIIT sponsored another group, the China Smart City Industry Alliance, and this year announced a RMB50 billion ($8 billion) fund to invest in smart city research and projects. A third group, the Smart City Development Alliance, was formed this spring by NDRC. Some companies are working with only one of these new groups, and some are involved with all three. At present, there is little connection between the groups though they were intended to improve communications between industry participants, communications between industry and government and, in the case of the China Smart City Industry Alliance, to coordinate investment as well.

In January 2013, MOHURD formally announced the first list of national pilot Smart Cities. By April 2015, there were over 285 pilot Smart Cities in China, as well as 41 special pilot projects.

Leading Sub-Sectors
Green building products that meet the new energy efficiency standards in new, unique, or economically competitive ways have a potential market in China.
Some of the best prospects for China’s market include:

  • Green building design

  • Building energy efficiency retrofits

  • Green building material production and supply

  • Integrated energy efficiency solutions

  • Green building operation and energy efficiency management

  • Low-carbon neighborhood development design and energy solutions

Looking at the sector as a whole, U.S. exporters took the lead over international competitors, edging ahead of Japan, which long had occupied the leading import market share position.  Japan now trails the U.S. slightly at 11 percent market share, followed by Germany (9.7 percent), Russia (7.5 percent), and Canada (5.7 percent). A view of each subsector gives a more informed sense of the competitive environment.

China is the world’s largest HVAC market.  There is strong demand for high-quality HVAC products in China, with exporters from Germany, Japan, the United States, and Korea claiming 60 percent of the import market.  The United States is the third largest source of subsector imports, with a 12 percent market share.  Germany leads the market, with just over 20 percent.

Lighting represents an enormous area of opportunity for U.S. exporters.  Government authorities throughout China are working to encourage energy efficient retrofits of buildings, in which lighting is widely viewed as a “low hanging fruit” investment option to increase energy performance.  U.S. lighting exporters have room to grow their share of the China market, currently at just 6.5 percent.  Performing ahead of U.S. exporters are Japan (24 percent share), Germany (17 percent), Korea (8.9 percent), and Taiwan (8.7 percent).

China represents an enormous market opportunity for U.S. wood products exporters, who currently claim 13.3 percent of the import market and are the second largest source of imports after Russia (16 percent), just ahead of Canada (12 percent).  China’s demand for wood and wood products has shown extremely strong growth, with that trend expected to continue through 2017.  While Chinese importers have shown strong interest in importing logs or least-processed wood and undertaking value-added production in China, U.S. exporters have tremendous opportunities in higher value-added wood product sales.

There is ample room for growth in U.S. plumbing exports to China, which, at 8 percent of the market, are the fifth largest source of imports.  Plumbing imports in China are dominated by Japan, which holds a 22 percent market share, followed by Korea (13.2 percent), Germany (13 percent) and Taiwan (9.5 percent). 

U.S. exporters have steadily been gaining import market share in China’s insulation market and now stand a close second to Japan at 19.4 percent market share. Japan leads the import market with just over 20 percent share, and Taiwan (10.3 percent), Germany (6 percent) and Korea (5.8 percent) round out the top five foreign sources of subsector imports.

Windows and Doors
There are solid opportunities for growth in U.S. window and door exports to China, which currently rank sixth in import market share at 5.7 percent. Germany leads the import market, claiming fully 30 percent, followed by Korea (9.2 percent), Taiwan (8.9 percent), Norway (8 percent), and Italy (6.3 percent).

One sector with a significant foreign presence is architectural design, which is dominated by many well-known architectural firms from the United States and Europe. Other opportunities exist in consulting on green building designs, as well as on energy saving strategies for both new and old buildings. Both of these sectors require skills and expertise that are not yet fully developed in the Chinese domestic market and can help lower energy intensity in line with the 13th Five-Year Plan. More than 95 percent of existing buildings in China are not green buildings, creating potential opportunities in retrofitting old buildings with green building technology.

The National New-type Urbanization Plan (2014-2020)
A Chinese national “New-Type Urbanization Plan” calls for the development of the following three sectors in China from 2014 to 2020:

  • New-type city construction:  The key projects will be focused on building with green energy, green building, green traffic, innovation in industrial parks, and the urban environment.
  • Smart city construction: Cities should utilize information technology to manage the development of the city, such as extending broadband information networks and promoting cloud computing and large data centers. Promoting cross-sector, regional government information sharing and business collaboration is also encouraged.
  • Humanities city construction: The Plan encourages localities to focus on protecting historical and cultural heritage in old cities and to incorporate traditional cultural elements into new city construction.

Trade Shows & Events
China International Trade Fair for Sanitation, Heating, Ventilation & Air-Conditioning
May 18- May 20, 2017
New China International Exhibition Center, Beijing
Guangzhou International Lighting Exhibition 2017
June 9 – 12, 2017
China Import & Export Fair Complex
Guangzhou, China
The 13th International Green Building and Building Efficiency Conference &
New Technology and Products Expo
March, 2018
Beijing International Convention Center
China Refrigeration 2018
April, 2018
Beijing New International Expo Center, Beijing, China
Web Resources
Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development:
See also:
Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development
China Building Materials Industries Association
Ministry of Environmental Protection of China
USFCS China Design Construction Webpage
U.S.-China Energy Cooperation Program
U.S. Commercial Service Contact for Construction and Green Building Sector
Wenjuan Zhan,
T:  +86-10-8531-4819
M:  +86-139-1074-8607

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China Design and Construction Trade Development and Promotion