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Huangbaiyu is a model sustainable
Sustainability is the capacity to endure. For humans, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of well being, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of union, an interdependent relationship and mutual responsible position with all living and non...

 village in Benxi
Benxi is a prefecture-level city located in the east of Liaoning province in Northeast China, south-southeast of Shenyang. Its population is 1,709,538 at the 2010 census whom 959,610 in the built up area It was founded as a metallurgical center in 1915...

, Liaoning
' is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the northeast of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "辽" , a name taken from the Liao River that flows through the province. "Níng" means "peace"...

, People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

. As of 2006, over 40 individual houses had been built, however the construction methods, costs, materials used and the design of each house has come under great criticism.


Huangbaiyu was conceived by William McDonough
William McDonough
William Andrews McDonough is an American architect, founding principal of , co-founder of with German chemist Michael Braungart as well as co-author of also with Braungart...

 and Partners in conjunction with Tongji University
Tongji University
Tongji University , colloquially known as Tongji , located in Shanghai, has more than 30,000 students and 8,000 staff members . It offers degree programs at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels...

 in Shanghai
Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

, the Benxi Design Institute, and China-U.S. Center for Sustainable Development. The town is being built in stages and is to be model of sustainable development
Sustainable development
Sustainable development is a pattern of resource use, that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come...

 using principles laid out by McDonough. His main thesis is that instead of trying to reduce waste you eliminate it by having everything be capable of being broken down into technical or biological nutrition that can be reused so that no waste is created and no waste needs to be disposed.


In April 2006, the project was encountering some difficulties: some housing was completed, but no residents had moved in.
By September 2006, 42 houses had been built. The cost of each individual dwelling is estimated to be around 28,000 yuan
The Renminbi is the official currency of the People's Republic of China . Renminbi is legal tender in mainland China, but not in Hong Kong or Macau. It is issued by the People's Bank of China, the monetary authority of the PRC...



  • Of the 42 completed houses, only three have used the hay and pressed-earth combination. The rest use hay and compressed bricks of coal-dust, triggering a debate over whether the coal dust represents a health risk.
  • Only one house has solar panels; the rest were built to burn timber but have now been modified to use gas from a biogassification plant that Huangbaiyu's village chief, Dai Xiaolong, built after buying the technology. None of the houses face south as originally planned because the building contractor changed the orientation to fit Feng Shui
    Feng shui
    Feng shui ' is a Chinese system of geomancy believed to use the laws of both Heaven and Earth to help one improve life by receiving positive qi. The original designation for the discipline is Kan Yu ....

    . Inexplicably, the new houses also have garages, although no villager can afford a car.
  • American anthropologist Shannon May was sponsored by computer-chip giant Intel to live in the village to monitor the transformation. But after more than a year, she is dismayed at the outcome and worried that to "save face", the village may continue to be promoted as sustainable and replicated elsewhere.

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