Chen has a professional background in the Chinese construction industry. Since 1990, he has been working as an academic professional in the areas of building design and construction in the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Chen is currently Senior Research Fellow at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom,and his current research focuses on innovative solutions for the design and construction of buildings, many of which are in the city of Shanghai.
Although Shanghai is currently taking measures to approve the water supply by cleaning and modernizing the Yangtze River, Chen clearly thinks more action needs to be taken.
"The most crucial aspect will be how to deal with solid construction and demolition waste, and how to reduce long-term energy use from the newly-built environment," he said.
For proactive measures to be put into place, Chen believes it is necessary to improve current technologies in a building's design, construction and operation with regard to environmental friendliness. An excellent example of this innovative use of construction is Ecobuild Shanghai 2006.
Ecobuild is a co-operation project between the sister cities of Hamburg in Germany and Shanghai in order to raise awareness on ecological buildings in Shanghai, explained its director Roland Winkler.
"Ecobuilding can be defined as prioritizing energy efficiency first, and only then can all other matters like ecological building materials and renewable energies follow," Winkler clarified. Ecobuild Shanghai 2006 seems to be the first larger scale initiative in Shanghai with an explicit environmental vision.
As a key project to promote innovative concepts for urban development and construction in Shanghai, Ecobuild acts in line with the preparation of the World Expo Shanghai 2010 to foster a "Better City, Better Life."
According to Winkler: "All the problems Shanghai deals with right now are ones which can be partly solved by better urban planning and ecological buildings."
Of course, this will cost money, but the costs of environmental destruction are huge too, he added.
"The construction industry needs to find effective options to reduce energy use and to save materials during construction,"Chen agreed. "We need to provide highperformance buildings to reduce long-term energy use and satisfy human well-being."
Initiatives such as Ecobuilding seem a likely answer to Shanghai's growing pollution problem. "Ecological buildings are necessary not only in Shanghai, or throughout China, but also around the world in regard to proactive actions for energy saving," said Chen.
Next to the industry in Shanghai, its population also needs to be aware of what impact the rapidly growing problem of pollution will have on the city. "To help the country and Shanghai get rid of heavy pollution quickly, everyone must act responsibly in saving energy and reducing waste.
To generate this awareness among the people in Shanghai, several initiatives and projects have been instigated. One of them is the "Annual Yellow Pages Recycling Programme" by Roots & Shoots Shanghai.
Established in 1999, Roots & Shoots Shanghai is responsible for running the lo-Shanghai looks towards 'ecobuilding'cal branch of Dr Jane Goodall's global environmental and humanitarian programme.
R&S set up recycling booths over the weekend at 11 Carrefour stores across Shanghai, and volunteers distributed new phone books while asking people to recycle their old ones.
"Yellow Pages Recycling Programme is a very straightforward way to get a simple 'green' message across," said ZeeZee Zhong of Roots & Shoots. "Only through participation of individuals can the pollution situation in Shanghai be ultimately improved."
As regard to further raising awareness about the situation among the population of Shanghai, Chen advocated new standards in education, law, and industry. "At the end of the day," agreed James Leape,director-general of the American World Wide Fund, "it is merely a matter of changing lifestyle."