United States Signs Agreement with China on Building Energy Efficiency

July 22, 2009

A ground-level photo of two apartment towers, each about 30 stories high.

This apartment building in Beijing, China, is heated and cooled with an energy-efficient geothermal heat pump, the result of a previous agreement between the United States and China. Enlarge this image.
Credit: Jean Ku

DOE and the Chinese Ministry of Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD) signed a joint agreement on July 15 to foster collaboration in the development of more efficient building designs. Under the agreement, the United States and China will exchange experts who will share their understanding of efficient building technologies, including high-performance heating and cooling, insulation, lighting, cold storage, geothermal heat pumps, building-integrated solar power, and solar thermal systems. The two nations will also explore the feasibility of developing a shared project in China to demonstrate green buildings, building energy savings, and renewable energy technologies. With this announcement, the United States and China recognize that improving energy efficiency in buildings will benefit both nations, and that by working in tandem, they can accelerate the adoption of new clean energy technologies.

An additional focus of the pact is the development of sustainable communities that rely heavily on the use of renewable energy. Together, the United States and China will conduct analyses of the lessons learned from their combined experience with energy-efficient buildings and communities, examining options for policy incentives or regulatory reform to encourage energy-efficient development in China. The United States will provide support for MOHURD's "eco-cities" initiative, which aims to build integrated green cities that are sustainably designed, use renewable power, and have efficient transportation systems. The partners will also collaborate on developing standards and guidelines for such sustainable cities. See the DOE press release.

The United States and China also plan to develop the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center, which will facilitate joint research and development of clean energy technologies by teams of scientists and engineers from both countries. U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Chinese Minister of Science Wan Gang, and Chinese Administrator of National Energy Administration Zhang Guo Bao announced their plans for the joint research center on July 15. The center will initially address building energy efficiency, clean vehicles, and clean coal technologies, including carbon capture and storage, and it will also serve as a clearinghouse to help researchers in each country. The United States and China have pledged $15 million to launch the joint research center, which will have headquarters in each country. The two countries intend to start operations at the new research center by year-end. See the DOE press release.