Peggy Liu, chairwoman of the Joint US-China Cooperation on Clean Energy, or JUCCCE, said that she often gets asked if China really wants to go green.
"Of course China wants to go green," she said. "But it's for a different reason than America. The Americans are coming from a moral standpoint, but in China it's more visceral, because we smell, we eat and we breathe pollution every day."
An adviser to former US President Bill Clinton's climate change initiative and honored in 2008 by Time magazine as an "environmental hero", Liu became internationally renowned for her work at JUCCCE, a non-profit body helping China to implement clean technologies.
In July, she went to London to receive the maiden Hilary Step Award, a leadership award named after New Zealand mountain climber Sir Edmund Hillary.
On the same trip, she also gave talks about JUCCCE's work at various organizations, including the solar energy company Solar Century, and the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi.
"A lot of these people don't really understand China, so we're building bridges with two hopes - one is to bring best practices and new technologies into China, and the other is to show the world how they can benefit from collaborating with China," she said.
A major part of JUCCCE's work is bringing Western experts to China to speak about sustainability concepts at mayoral training sessions. A total of 322 mayors have attended the sessions to date.
Two concepts recently taught to the mayors are ecotourism and heritage-tourism - where tourists explore the heritage of the sites with minimum impact to the natural environment.
Liu said that the concepts were well received by the mayors, and the local government from Mentougou, a former mining district near Beijing, held a full-day symposium to explore how eco-tourism can be implemented.
Another JUCCCE project is to bring foreign experts and companies to China to help build its smart-grid system, which has become a priority in China recently. Last year, China's State Grid Corp announced plans to invest $250 billion in electric power infrastructure upgrades over the next five years, and another $240 billion between 2016 and 2020.
Unlike conventional grids, smart grid components are upgraded to include sensors, computers, and a wireless interface, allowing the electric grid to transmit and distribute electricity more efficiently.
With JUCCCE's help, the US clean energy company Duke Energy and the China-based ENN Group reached an agreement to together build China's first smart energy "eco-city" in Langfang, near Beijing, last January.
Duke Energy will bring to the table its expertise in various technologies, including energy storage, energy efficiency, energy recovery and electric vehicle infrastructure.