U.S., China to Collaborate on Building Efficiency

U.S., China to Collaborate on Building Efficiency

The United States and China have agreed to a research partnership on energy efficient buildings and communities, redoubling collaborative efforts between the two countries in the development of cleaner, greener technology.

The agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy and the Chinese Ministry of Urban-Rural Development was announced Thursday, just a day after the two countries unveiled plans to establish a joint research center that is to focus on low-carbon technologies for green buildings, clean cars and carbon capture and storage.

"Our goal should be buildings that are 80 percent more efficient," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu in announcing the memorandum of understanding between the two countries.

The agreement calls for both countries to promote development of more efficient building technologies through the exchange of experts and technicians; joint analyses of existing green buildings and communities; and, possibly, a joint demonstration project in China of green buildings with heightened energy savings and renewable energy technology. The two countries are to explore the feasibility of the demonstration project, in addition to examining ways to encourage energy efficient development in China through policy incentives or regulatory reform.

Construction in China accounts for about half the new floor space built in the world each year, according to the DOE. And in the next 15 years, the country expects that it will build the equivalent of the United States' entire building stock.

Overall, buildings consume about 40 percent of energy globally and are responsible for almost half of greenhouse gas emissions. However, by upgrading existing buildings and using more energy efficient equipment in new buildings, at least 30 percent of emissions from buildings could be prevented at no net cost, says the DOE.

Tech experts from the two countries are expected to look at high-performance HVAC, insulation, lighting, cold storage, geothermal heat pumps, building-integrated photovoltaics and solar thermal systems, and other means of improving performance of buildings.

The U.S. and China also will collaborate on development of standards for the Ministry of Urban-Rural Development's eco-cities initiative — a plan to build sustainably designed cities in China with green features that include renewable power and efficient, modern transportation systems.

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