Last week, I traveled to Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei Province for a two-day meeting on energy efficiency and carbon reduction with representatives from the Guangdong and Hubei provinces and the British Embassy. Wuhan has approximately 9 million people, three city centers, and is sprawled across several rivers and lakes—but more importantly, the city is currently in the middle of a major modernization effort.

As part of China’s current development plan, several coastal regions have been designated as testing grounds for new technical and structural improvements designed to increase energy efficiency. Once proven successful, the improvements will then be replicated in China’s hinterlands. The inland Hubei province was selected by China’s National Development and Reform Commission as one of the country’s low-carbon focus regions in 2010.

Meeting attendees provided their international expertise and shared their experiences from the more developed coastal regions with representatives from the Hubei province. In particular, experts from the Guangdong Energy Conservation Center shared Guangdong’s achievements in improving the province’s energy efficiency. I contributed to the discussion by describing BSR’S recent Strategic Program Fund (SPF), which was designed to improve energy management capacity in the Guangdong province.

In particular, the SPF program used online databases, factory case studies, and training to improve business’ capacity for managing energy use. At the same time, the program also equipped the Guangdong provincial government with tools to build frameworks for more reliable energy assessments and to promote energy efficiency. The SPF program was a great success, and since its completion, it has served as a model for energy management in inland provinces such as Hubei.

To capitalize on this opportunity, BSR brought together more than 100 business representatives from the Hubei province during the second day of the meeting for a training on how to measure, report, and verify energy use and emissions in their operations—essential components of reducing China’s overall emissions and making its development more sustainable.

This general cooperation between the Hubei and Guangdong provinces is part of the continuing economic, social, and political development of China, and it will create new opportunities for business as inland cities form a production base with quality standards converging on those of coastal regions, lower costs, and a more stable workforce population.