Smart and Resilient Cities and Urban Infrastructure

The China Energy Group is working with Chinese stakeholders to provide capacity building and technical assistance on the planning and implementation of low-carbon urban development in Chinese cities. In recognition of the important impact of cities as the centers of population, industry, transport, and infrastructure on energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions and in light of China’s rapid urbanization, low carbon urban development has become an increasingly important policy area in China.

China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) launched a low carbon development pilot program in July of 2010, with the selection of 8 low carbon pilot cities and 5 low carbon provinces. In 2012, NDRC added 28 cities and Hainan province to the low-carbon pilot program. In 2015 at the first U.S.-China Climate Leaders Summit under the U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group (CCWG), China announced the formation of the “Alliance of Peaking Pioneer Cities” (APPC) that have committed to peak carbon dioxide emissions earlier than China’s national goal to peak by 2030 or earlier. Additional Chinese cities joined the APPC at the second U.S.-China Climate Leaders Summit in 2016. The China Energy Group serves as the U.S. Secretariat for the CCWG’s Low-Carbon Smart Cities Initiative. For further information, see:

Since low carbon development is relatively new area in China, the China Energy Group has undertaken a number of projects to develop and introduce resources and tools to local Chinese policymakers to strengthen their capacity in this area. Building on studies of international and Chinese experiences and best practices, we have developed resources including guidebooks, adaptable guidelines, and simplified strategies to help inform and guide city governments on potential policy options and strategies for effective low carbon development.

The China Energy Group, in collaboration with China’s Energy Research Institute and Energy Foundation China, published a guidebook on Strategies for Local Low Carbon Development in 2012. This guidebook provides information for government officials, policy makers, program designers and implementers, provincial and city planners, and others who want an overview of the key options available for low-carbon development at local level, drawing from successful experiences from around the world.

The China Energy Group has also developed and tested a low carbon indicator system and an ELITE-Cities tool to help cities measure progress towards becoming a low carbon eco-city, benchmarking their performance against other cities. We have created two modeling tools (GREAT and Urban RAM) to help local policymakers evaluate potential low carbon emission pathways at a city-level and assess the city’s energy and carbon footprints with limited data availability. More recently, the Benchmarking and Energy Saving Tool for Low Carbon Cities (BEST- Cities) tool was developed by the group to benchmark cities against 35 key performance indicators with international comparison values and to provide more than 70 policy or program recommendations that the cities can adopt. The China Energy Group has introduced our low-carbon eco-city development resource guides and provided training on our various tools to over 400 government officials, urban planners, and researchers in central, provincial, and city governments throughout China.

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Benchmarking and Energy Saving Tool for Low Carbon Cities (BEST Cities)

BEST-Cities is designed to provide city authorities with strategies they can follow to reduce city-wide greenhouse emissions. The tool quickly assesses local energy use and energy-related emissions in nine sectors (i.e., industry, public and commercial buildings, residential buildings, transportation, power and heat, street lighting, water & wastewater, solid waste, and urban green space), giving officials a comprehensive perspective on their local carbon performance. Cities can also use the tool to benchmark their energy and emissions performance to other cities inside and outside China, and identify those sectors with the greatest energy saving and emissions reduction potential. BEST-Cities also helps city authorities evaluate the appropriateness of more than 70 different strategies that can reduce their city's energy use and emissions. By identifying those strategies most relevant to local circumstances, the tool helps local government officials develop a low carbon city action plan that can be implemented in phases, over a multi-year timeframe.

Green Resources & Energy Analysis Tool (GREAT)

The Green Resources & Energy Analysis Tool (GREAT) for Cities helps local governments to explore and identify potential energy and emission reduction opportunities and to create action plans for low carbon development. GREAT is an integrated bottom-up, energy end-use based modeling and accounting tool for tracking energy consumption, production and resource extraction in all economic sectors on a city, provincial or regional level. The model uses the Long-range Energy Alternatives Planning System (LEAP) software developed by the Stockholm Environmental Institute and includes a national average dataset on energy input parameters for residential, commercial, transport, industry and agriculture end-use sectors. The model also includes a separate energy transformation module with specific power sector parameters such as installed generation capacity. Users such as energy policy analysts and researchers can customize the model to a given city or region by entering detailed actual and/or projected end-use stock, energy intensity and fuel share data points (where available) for technologies within each sector. The user-friendly interface then allow users to assess current and future key energy and carbon emissions drivers in detail from the perspectives of economic sectors, end-use technologies and fuels. GREAT helps local governments to complete the following goals/milestones: develop the city's GHG inventory; generate a future energy and emission projection baseline; generate scenarios; evaluate the impact of different policies; help to set target and develop action plans; and allocate targets.

Eco and Low-carbon Indicator Tool for Evaluating Cities (ELITE Cities)

The Eco and Low-carbon Indicator Tool for Evaluating Cities (ELITE Cities), sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, evaluates the performance of Chinese cities by comparing them against benchmark performance goals. The tool can also be used on multiple years to assess the progress of a city in a specific indicatory and overall performance. ELITE Cities measures progress on 33 key indicators selected to represent priority issues within 8 primary categories.

Urban Form Rapid Assessment Model

The Urban-RAM modeling tool is an Excel-based macros-enabled model designed to provide a high-level breakdown of the major contributors to a city's energy and carbon footprint when measured from the point of view of the city's inhabitants. This model asks users to provide city-level data on basic macroeconomic factors (GDP, households, population), residents' income and expenditures, building floorspace and building types, infrastructure (road, rail, subway length) and vehicle fleet to characterize a given city but also provides national average data as default.