Chongqing is one of the fastest growing, and least known megacities in the world. The population of the city (not to be confused with the population of Chongqing municipality) is more than 10 million and is growing by thousands every week. Situated in southern China, at the confluence of the Yangtze and Jialing rivers, Chongqing sits between mountains and its rapid growth has turned it into a city of skyscrapers.

Hangzhou, an hour to the South-West of Shanghai by high-speed train, is the capital of Zhejiang province, famous for its beautiful West Lake area and high-end shopping districts. Whilst it could be considered a satellite city next to the 34 million strong megalopolis of Shanghai, some 7 million people inhabit Hangzhou's urban area which sprawls over 3,400km², twice the area of London.

With standards of living rising in rapidly urbanising China, now is a pivotal moment to address energy efficiency. Buildings in China currently account for 30% of national energy use, putting it second in the world in terms of total energy consumption from buildings. This figure is set to rise, especially given that the per-capita energy use in China is around half of that in the UK, and a quarter of that in the USA.

Project title in English and Chinese.

Project title in English and Chinese.

During late 2015 and early 2016, Andy was part of an EPSRC-funded research project - working alongside Professors Alan Short and Peter Guthrie in Cambridge, and numerous collaborators in the UK and China - to examine, monitor, model and suggest improvements to the buildings in Chongqing. The goal is to propose retrofit schemes for existing buildings to futureproof them, improving comfort and health whilst reducing energy consumption.

The methodology for the project is inspired by a previous study of climate-resilient energy efficiency retrofit options for UK NHS building stock, also led by Professor Alan Short. A monitoring and modelling campaign found that retrofitting hospital wards with better insulation, solar shading and natural ventilation could reduce their energy consumption more than threefold, and also increase their resilience to summer heatwaves, providing a safer, healthier indoor environment for patients and staff.  You can watch the video summarising this previous project ("DeDeRHECC") here.

The project team travelled to China in late 2015; Andy has posted some thoughts and photos from his visits on his blog. Andy has now moved to London and has left the project but is keeping in touch with the team and hopes to write posts to keep you updated with this interesting and vital research work.

The video below, created by photographer Tim Franco, served as Andy's introduction to the city of Chongqing, and is well worth watching.