Green architecture for homes in Taiwan

Does anyone know of good examples of green architecture in Taiwan? I recently visited the beautiful public library in Beitou, and was thoroughly impressed, but I am more interested in how green technology is being integrated into domestic housing here. Our plans are much less ambitious than that large publicly-funded project, but it has rekindled our interest.

Here are some photos if you haven’t seen it:

We are toying with the idea of building our own house and would like to use whatever alternative energy technologies which are currently available, and appropriate, for the island. An architect friend is going to draw up the design, but I would like to do some of my own research before I hash things out with him.

I should add some specifics. We plan to build a modest single-level dwelling in Nantou. Land area might be about 100-200 ping, but he house will be no more than 40-50 ping. Wind power wouldn’t seem practical (although we are not ruling it out if there are great ideas out there) due to the mountains and lack of scale. Passive energy efficiencies resulting from materials and design along with energy from solar – photovoltaic & heating – are on the boards. We plan to have a Taiwan flora garden which will help mitigate heat although the attraction would mostly be for our and our neighbors pleasure. We have a locale in mind but have not purchased land yet.

If you know of any houses which might inspire ideas I would be happy to know about them. I would like to visit places this summer and late in the year.

PS. Just googled “Green architecture Taiwan” and found this –

If you or your building partner can read Chinese, take a look at There is a whole group of people building their own homes, and you should find answers to all your questions just by searching or taking part in discussion.

Thanks for the link. I will browse around in the site.

Later on, I’ll ask my husband if he has any links, too, and post any good ones here for you.

Thanks again. One problem I am finding is that my online searches keep turning up very fancy (or expensive) signature buildings.

Maybe it’s too much to ask, but here is what I’d like to do:

– Build a small, affordable (as per my OP) house using local materials, which would be as eco-friendly as possible
– Include energy-saving design, and alternative energy options
– Construct the house using while doing the least environmental damage as is reasonably possible

We would like the house to be in keeping with its historical & cultural environment. My buddy the architect and I have discussed this a few times, but we are both rather busy and I haven’t seen him in a few years, so I want to return to him with my ideas as clear. He is Taiwanese, and has loads of experience and training, so I think we’ll enjoy working on this.

Perhaps it is a little arrogant, but I would like the house to serve as a model for other Taiwanese housing projects on the island. It’s nice to have a beautiful new library in Beitou and other massive public works projects incorporating green elements, but the pace of environmental disturbance will not be minimized until these practices are integrated into ordinary housing. I want to see what others have already been up to and learn from their experience before we proceed.

If you put “台灣環保屋” in a search engine, you get a lot of links. You can words like “參考” to get sites that give you examples of green builidngs.

This company constructs green buildings.

Very helpful links, Asiababy. I just learned about your house, and am more excited than ever.

In the meantime, I found an example of another type of build which might work for us. This architect took a small, run down, 40-year old building, renovated the site (rather than tearing it down) and designed a new building around it. It looks much larger than what we have in mind (it’s to be used as a baking school of some sort), but I like the idea of taking an eyesore and turning it into a pleasant structure. It is my understanding that concrete is initially a very poor/un-green building material, but once the cement has been poured, we can either live with it or tear it up. Redesigning an old building like this is the way to go.

Have a look (Text is in Chinese but lots of photos) –

There are so many things that can be done to many run down apartment buildings in Taiwan to make it more livable. For example, proper insulation, better doors and windows that can seal out the outside environment, etc. However many Taiwanese are too cheap to do this. Actually plants like grass can be grown on the roof of these buildings, that can absorb the heat from the sun and make the house cooler not to mention reducing the effect of concrete jungle and absorbing CO2. While replacing the window with something better (and more burglar proof) the bars must go. Just these little things will make an average Taiwanese home much more habitable and save on heating or cooling cost, but as you know most average Taiwanese doesn’t see long term savings beyond a month to month saving.

Doesn’t that result in water leaking down through the concrete though? Penetrating the walls, causing mould problems, causing paint and wallpaper to flake off, looking unsightly and possibly causing structural damage?

I do agree with your other ideas though!

Well, extensive and consistent short term month to month savings can accumulate into large savings over time. There was another thread about Taiwan manufacturing a significant world supply of solar panels but that Taiwanese themselves don’t use them. I can envision houses with sufficient surface area using this technology but apartment buildings with around 8 families is not viable.

I don’t think this is correct. Like people in most Asian nations, the personal savings rate is quite high here compared to the United States, which is among the lowest in the industrialized world. Personal savings have been rising a bit in the US and are perhaps in excess of 3%. In Taiwan the rate is more than 25% – much lower than China, but still quite massive.


I just checked and couldn’t find a set of stats exactly verifying the numbers above, but the trend is correct. Various sources showed US savings rate between 04% - 3% and Taiwan from 12.7% to 26%. I don’t know why the percentages should be so variable from report to report.

Taiwanese like to save cash, but they don’t like to spend money on long-term improvements to their houses, in general. It’s just a cultural thing.

I think the most environmental process is definitely to re-do an old concrete structure. Better insulation, roofs, solar panels etc. There are so many structures already in place it makes the most sense.

There’s a lot of stuff you’ll see on Travel & Living channel about so called green homes, usually mansions built in the countryside with a few bits of recycled material and a solar panel thrown in. Then they’ll show them driving a prius as if that was somehow environmental, living out in the countryside burns more gas than an urban dweller.

In fact, most people, including me and you, already live much more environmental lifestyles than people in the West, due to the propensity for dense urbran apartment block living here. It looks ugly but is surprisingly environmental compared to a semi-detached home overseas.
Of course if they just would stick a roof and double glazing and a few solar panels and gardens things would be much better!

My MIL’s house has no roof so it’s hot in summer, it was supposed to have one but the construction went over budget and they ran out of cash. Now if somebody’s wants to put a roof on it who will pay for that, the kids of course! The older retired folks don’t have much money for home improvements let alone younger folks. House prices are too expensive in Taipei area and that also sucks up disposable income that could be put to good use.


I was just writing about this cultural thing. Out in our area, there are many very rundown houses that must be just awful to live in. The people living in these places tell us how wonderful our place is, how they would like one etc. We tell them they could build one if they wanted, or make changes to their homes. They reply too much trouble too much money etc etc. Then drive their new Toyota, Range Rover, or the Lexus back to their homes. They could sell the car and build at least three of our houses. Priorities are just very different.

If you are looking at land and there is already a structure on the land, your only way to go might be to alter the existing building. There are some rules that you cannot build new structures, only use the current one, depending on the land classifcation.

We are looking at a specific area in Nantou, but do not have a particular property in mind. I agree that “green” building materials and structures are a little over-hyped. There is no shortage of hypocrisy to be found in any modern human society, but if one is going to build anyway, lessening the impact on the environment has got to be a good idea. Renovating an existing structure is appealing for a number of reasons, but it will depend on what property we find when we are ready to buy.

As for the claim that Taiwanese do not like to spend money on improving their homes: I don’t think this generalization holds up. I have also noticed a lot of people who are seemingly reluctant to spend money on upgrading living standards, but have also seen instances where people pay small fortunes on, for example, an employer-owned housing unit to make it more comfortable for themselves. I have also had Taiwanese friends and colleagues who have spent around NT$1 million to remodel a house (mostly cosmetic changes) after purchase – way more than I’d ever like to spend given our income, savings and values. In about 17 years our current house we have spent $300,000 on improvements. A neighbor just moving in this month has spent over $1 million. I find great variation on attitudes toward spending on housing in Taiwan.

Fair enough, the first thing a lot of new apartment purchasers do is rip the interior apart and redecorate.

Quite out of date, but you might find a two-part article I wrote a few years back interesting: … ctNode=122 … ctNode=118

Also, I recommend for all kinds of environmental news and tips.


I read both parts. You did a fine job – well-research and clearly written. I learned a lot. Thanks for sending the links along. I don’t think it is terribly out of date. Any plans to write a follow up on more recent developments?

Cheers –

This is a good point. Coming from Australia, I had to adjust to high density urban housing, and I’m still not comfortable with it. But my attitude towards it has changed dramatically since I’ve lived here. In Australia I thought it was the worst way imaginable to live, whereas now I appreciate its tremendous benefits.

Agreed. It could be implemented far more efficiently.

Is there any reason that you are only looking for Taiwan based green architecture? Seems like most of the green architecture ideas that work in XYZ would also work in Taiwan. You might not be able to find some high tech stuff in Taiwan but there have to a lot of ideas for green layouts, building materials and other stuff that could be worked into a design.