The Washington-based Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) will help China develop more energy-efficient buildings under a new program sponsored by the US State Department.
With almost half the world's new construction expected to take place in China over the next decade, the program, announced on Thursday, calls for PNNL researchers to oversee a pilot project in two Chinese cities to help officials develop stricter building codes that promote energy efficiency.
Chinese and US officials hailed the program as a way to combat global warming and increase cooperation between the two countries - the world's largest energy consumers.
China, which has the world's highest building energy use after the US, has announced an ambitious goal to make new buildings 50 percent more energy efficient by 2010.
Because buildings can last up to 50 years or more, designs implemented today can affect emissions for many years, said Meredydd Evans, a PNNL senior energy expert.
PNNL and its partners will train Chinese building inspectors, designers, construction companies and others to develop strict building standards and test market-based incentive programs to support code enforcement, Evans said.
Though the two Chinese cities, where the program will be initiated, have not been selected, officials expect one to be in the country's north and the other in central China.
"We expect PNNL's work on this project to yield significant and tangible results, fostering economic and environmental benefits throughout the Asia-Pacific region," said Paula Dobriansky, US undersecretary of state for democracy and global affairs.
"The US and China have a symbiotic relationship. We have a shared responsibility and a shared opportunity to help solve global energy and environmental challenges," said Mike Davis, PNNL's associate laboratory director for energy and the environment.
Senator Maria Cantwell, a democrat representing the state, called the program timely, given the huge amount of construction under way in China.
"China is now the world's largest construction site, and the types of buildings it builds will determine global energy use for decades to come," she said.
The program marks the first time the US has designated a national lab to help China to conform to stricter energy efficiency standards.
"This moves China and the US away from a global scrabble for oil to a global greener future," Cantwell said.