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Buildings use more energy than any other sector in the world and account for roughly 40% of the global greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from energy use (IEA 2013a). The Chinese building stock is rapidly expanding as a result of urbanization which is a driving force behind increased consumption. Under China's current development plan, its building sector will use more energy than any other country's building sector in the world by 2030 and will double by 2050 (IEA 2013a).
Improving building energy performance in China represents an enormous opportunity to avoid global GHGs. While a multitude of strategies exist to capture this opportunity (PI & CCIEE 2014), the most impactful approach to capturing these savings is through building energy codes programs. These programs are proven mechanisms for improving the efficiency of buildings around the world, impacting new construction as well as major renovations. Fortunately, the best practices for developing, implementing, and enforcing building energy codes have been studied and understood to a large degree. The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the gap between these international best practices and China's practices, make recommendations to close the gap, and provide an opportunity for China's global leadership. Many of the international best practices can be found in China (Levine et al. 2012), so we are comparing China to a hypothetical country where all best practices of the world are practiced.