In the April issue of Sustainable Industries, April Streeter gives an interesting update one the Huangbaiyu eco-village project green building guru William McDonough has been involved with. Sounds like things are tougher than expected.

Instead of being a demonstration model for sustainable growth ready to be replicated throughout the country, Huangbaiyu appears to be a village in limbo.

It appears that none of the villagers have been willing to trade in their homes for the new eco-village homes — despite lots of amenities, including rooftop solar PV, radiant floors, and heating from a biomass gasification plant.

Shannon May, a UC Berkeley doctoral student studying the project, speculates on what’s been going wrong.

May hypothesizes that inadequate attention to how villagers could increase their income to pay for better quality of life — is based on a blind spot in China’s domestic policy and its plan to beef up arable land.

“Everything had been full speed ahead for so long, without regard to what was happening on the ground,” she says. “Now they are taking some time to consider things. I can only hope sounder decisions will be made. I think it is a positive step, and demonstrates some care for the project that has been lacking.”