Spatiotemporal Changes of Built-Up Land Expansion and Carbon Emissions Caused by the Chinese Construction Industry

Environ Sci Technol. 2015 Nov 3;49(21):13021-30. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.5b01732. Epub 2015 Oct 16.


China is undergoing rapid urbanization, enlarging the construction industry, greatly expanding built-up land, and generating substantial carbon emissions. We calculated both the direct and indirect carbon emissions from energy consumption (anthropogenic emissions) in the construction sector and analyzed built-up land expansion and carbon storage losses from the terrestrial ecosystem. According to our study, the total anthropogenic carbon emissions from the construction sector increased from 3,905×10(4) to 103,721.17×10(4) t from 1995 to 2010, representing 27.87%-34.31% of the total carbon emissions from energy consumption in China. Indirect carbon emissions from other industrial sectors induced by the construction sector represented approximately 97% of the total anthropogenic carbon emissions of the sector. These emissions were mainly concentrated in seven upstream industry sectors. Based on our assumptions, built-up land expansion caused 3704.84×10(4) t of carbon storage loss from vegetation between 1995 and 2010. Cropland was the main built-up land expansion type across all regions. The study shows great regional differences. Coastal regions showed dramatic built-up land expansion, greater carbon storage losses from vegetation, and greater anthropogenic carbon emissions. These regional differences were the most obvious in East China followed by Midsouth China. These regions are under pressure for strong carbon emissions reduction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Carbon / analysis*
  • China
  • Construction Industry*
  • Ecosystem
  • Human Activities
  • Humans
  • Plants
  • Spatio-Temporal Analysis*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Carbon