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On Oct. 22, 52 architecture and planning firms signed the China Accord, a collaborative effort to design buildings, neighborhoods, and cities in that country to low-carbon or carbon-neutral standards. These firms, based in China and other countries worldwide, gathered last week in Shenyang, China, at a meeting hosted by nonprofit research organization Architecture 2030 and the architecture branch of the China Exploration and Design Association.

The firms pledge to design new buildings, major renovations, communities, and cities to be carbon neutral or at least have the capability to produce, or import, all their energy from renewable energy sources in the future.

According to the agreement, China’s urban population is projected to increase by 300 million by 2030. The country will also add an estimated 21.5 billion square feet of residential, commercial, and institutional buildings annually, which will cumulatively account for 38 percent of the world's building stock in 15 years. "The magnitude of its urban development over the next two decades puts China in a unique position to lead the international community in meeting this target," the accord states. "As part of its urbanization strategy, China has committed to embark on a new pattern of urban growth that integrates concepts of low-carbon development into the entire process of urban planning, building design, construction, and building management."

The China Accord pledges the building sector’s support of the Chinese government’s goal of capping its carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 or sooner and increasing the share of renewable energy to 20 percent of its total energy production. The agreement establishes several initiatives to accomplish its goals, including professional training, a broad-based stakeholders' forum, and the localization of design and planning tools.

The signatory firms include Arup, CallisonRTKL, DLR Group, Perkins + Will, Gensler, HDR, HKS Architects, NBBJ, Leo A Daly, Lake|Flato, Cannon Design, and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. See the full list of firms here.

Note: This piece has been updated to correct that China's urban population is projected to increase by 300 million by 2030.