China air-con tycoon moves into eco-friendly building

"***30-story building built in 15 days*** Construction time lapse *View Fullscreen* " screenshot video
"***30-story building built in 15 days*** Construction time lapse *View Fullscreen* " screenshot video

The Chinese tycoon behind a 30-storey energy-saving building that went up in just 15 days said Wednesday he intends to duplicate the model across the vast and heavily polluted nation.

The prefabricated building, the five-star T30 Hotel at Dongting Lake, Hunan province, that opens on January 18, became an Internet sensation after time-lapse video posted online showed it being constructed by 200 builders in just 360 hours (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hdpf-MQM9vY).

Zhang Yue, the billionaire chief executive of the Broad Group air conditioning company, said the speed with which his buildings go up reduces waste of materials and energy.

He said the buildings, which feature quadruple-glazed windows and only use energy-saving lighting, would become his biggest business in 2013.

"We need to speed up our environmental thinking. We need buildings like this all over China," Zhang said of the pre-fabs, which he claims are six times greener than most European buildings.

"In 2013 we will build 20 buildings a month and by 2014, we'll be up to 50 buildings a month. And that's just from one factory," he told AFP by telephone.

"China is 20-40 times more polluted than Europe and that's hurting our health and will offset the economic benefits of our growth," added Zhang, who won a UN Environment Programme "Champions of the Earth" award last year.

China's cities are among the world's most polluted, after three decades of rapid urbanisation.

Zhang founded Broad in 1988 with his brother, Zhang Jian, who studied thermo dynamics. Together they revived an old energy-saving technology for non-electric air conditioning, which they have now sold in 75 countries around the world.

The hotel's prefabricated parts were made at a factory owned by the Broad Group in Hunan that employs 10,000 people, using steel, glass and insulation sourced inside China, Zhang said.

The group has three such factories in China, and plans to expand that number to 40 to promote its patented Broad Sustainable Building model at home and abroad.