U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Chinese Minister of Science Wan Gang, and Administrator of National Energy Administration Zhang Guo Bao today announced plans this week to develop a U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center to foster collaboration and partnership in the development of more efficient building designs as well as sustainable communities that rely on renewable energy.
The Center would facilitate joint research and development on clean energy by teams of scientists and engineers from the U.S. and China. Priority topics to be addressed will initially include building energy efficiency, clean vehicles, and clean coal, including carbon capture and storage. The two countries will learn from each other's experiences with efficient building technologies, including: high-performance HVAC, insulation, lighting, cold storage, geothermal heat pumps, building-integrated photovoltaics and solar thermal systems.
After touring the "America House," a U.S. designed demonstration of cutting-edge "zero energy" building technology in China, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced the agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Chinese Ministry of Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD).
DOE will also 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 and modern transportation systems. The U.S. and China together pledged $15 million to support initial activities and the operation will have headquarters in each country.
"Making buildings more efficient represents one of the greatest, and most immediate opportunities we have to create jobs, save money, save energy and reduce carbon pollution," said Secretary Chu. "Our goal should be buildings that are 80 percent more efficient. Doing so will save families money and create millions of jobs in both countries. Clean energy is one of the great opportunities of our time. Working together, we can accomplish more than acting alone.”
Buildings use around 40 percent of energy globally and account for nearly half of greenhouse gas emissions. But at least 30 percent of emissions from the building sector could be eliminated by simply upgrading old buildings and using modern equipment. 75 percent of all electricity generated at U.S. power plants is used to operate buildings. China is expected to build the equivalent of the entire U.S. building stock in the next 15 years. Nearly half the new floor space built in the world every year is built in China.
The America House got its start as a DOE/National Renewable Energy Laboratory-sponsored Solar Decathlon project. The winning team from Florida International University originally constructed an 800 square foot mobile home, powered exclusively by solar energy, that was showcased on the national mall in 2005. America House is a zero-energy building that will send power back to the grid.
The interior of the house is 3,200 square feet and includes:
• Flooring made of bamboo, cork and recycled tile and/or carpeting
• Structurally Insulated Panels (SIPs) made from foam are used inside the walls and ceiling, cutting energy consumption for heating and cooling by up to 50%
• Solar panels on the back roof
• Geothermal heat pumps to reduce heating and cooling
• Wastewater recycling system
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