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Limits to decoupling strategies for sustainable housing development: the Hangzhou experience

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Since the national urban housing reform in the 1990s, the Hangzhou Metropolitan Area in China has been experiencing a construction boom and an extraordinary growth of the residential building stock. Housing has made up an important part of the physical urban development and regional economic growth. The metropolitan area authorities aim to pursue sustainable housing development by adopting decoupling strategies emphasising efficient use of resources. However, in spite of these strategies, a study of Hangzhou's actual rates of decoupling between economic growth, housing sector growth and negative environmental impacts indicates only weak decoupling and a tendency of declining degrees of decoupling (if present at all) during the latest two decades. Limits of decoupling strategies for sustainable housing development are discussed in the light of these findings. The paper concludes with a recommendation to take growth containment into China's policies towards sustainable development, while at the same time guaranteeing a decent living standard among citizens.
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Keywords: decoupling; economic growth; growth containment; sustainable housing development; urban planning

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Development and Planning, Aalborg University, Fibigerstræde 13, 9220, Aalborg East, Denmark

Publication date: October 1, 2012

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