Press Release

November 16, 2010

The China Sustainability Center hasn’t always been the hub for collaboration, research and innovation it is today. In fact, it began life rather humbly, as a committee, then as a studio. As the studio took shape, China’s sustainability awareness dramatically intensified.


Sean Chiao, AECOM’s leader in China, recognized a sea change was in progress. “I saw this rising interest and need to be competitive in this sphere. [We wanted our brand] to be closely associated with sustainability in China.”

In June 2010, AECOM’s China Sustainability Center opened for business, with its staff strength doubled. Fengyu Li was charged with leading it.

The center’s goals are practical yet ambitious: do good research to drive business development, then win enough projects to become profitable. Li said the center’s research won’t be academic, but geared toward helping it write solid proposals and secure business.

“The mandate was for us to develop and grow our position as a sustainability provider – to find ways to mold and market AECOM’s sustainability business and use it to knit together our many service offerings,” Li said.

Helena Fu, director of sustainability, China, in collaboration with her AECOM colleagues and external partners, has been looking at the feasibility of deploying electric vehicles in China. And, in Qingdao, a multidisciplinary and multinational AECOM team is talking with the local government about building a low-carbon development zone, part of a broader effort to position the company’s expertise to governments and private developers as they begin to embrace eco-positive principles and planning.

The center also recently played host to talks between AECOM and the Beijing government. Both parties are exploring methods to help the Chinese capital address its development and urban planning challenges. Beijing has stated its goal of becoming a “global city” that can rival Tokyo, New York and London. The center staged a two-day workshop, held under the rubric of AECOM’s Global Cities Institute, to help Beijing officials clarify their aims and help define a possible service scope for the government.

“We have the tools to position ourselves differently from our competitors,” Li said. “And the center’s success will potentially spawn similar projects across AECOM in Asia and beyond.”