Birmingham was today set to seal a major agreement designed to make it one of the world's top cities in the battle against climate change.
The scheme, backed by former US president Bill Clinton and due to be signed today in the US, will see Birmingham become a global leader in the development of environmentally-friendly homes.
Just seven cities worldwide will benefit from a slice of $15 million from IT giant CISCO to develop technologies that help tackle global warming. Birmingham is the only UK city that has been selected for the programme.
Officers from the city council flew to San Francisco yesterday in preparation to sign the agreement, which is being hailed as a major coup for the authority.
Birmingham City Council leader Mike Whitby said: ''I welcome the invitation to join forces with San Francisco to become one of the world's leading authorities on tackling climate change. This underpins Birmingham's resurgence as a global city that major cities want to partner with."
The "Connected Urban Development (CUD)" programme will give Birmingham free access to CISCO developers who will help the city develop "smart" homes and communities.
It is part of the Clinton Initiative - a movement set up by the former US president to bring together world leaders, notfor-profit organisations, charities and businesses together to try to solve global problems.
The city will initially focus on testing the technology in new housing developments - such as the 1,400 ecoh o m e s planned at the old MG Rover site in Longbridge - but the long-term plan is to role the technology out to all homes across the city.
It will also share ideas with the other five cities in the CUD programme: founding members San Francisco, Seoul and Amsterdam and new recruits Lisbon, Hamburg and Madrid.
Friends of the Earth West Midlands spokesman Chris Crean welcomed the announcement and hoped it would force the council to act on climate change.
He said: "Birmingham has set itself some very tough targets in its climate change action plan, and this is evidence that they have the ambition to try to achieve them.
"However, we are still waiting to see this turned into real action that befits a city of Birmingham's standing in the world. We need to be leading the way."
Sandy Taylor, head of climate change and sustainability for the council, said: "We will be looking to use IT to provide better information about our homes and how much energy they use.
"We will also be looking at systems that provide information about transport. For example, that could mean a computer in your home that gives you up-to-the-minute information about local buses and trains, or warns of traffic congestion."
The council will also work with Birmingham's three universities and other public agencies to develop a series of training and business opportunities around climate change issues.
Clive Dutton, director of planning and regeneration for the council said: "Wherever Birmingham was on the path to sustainability before, we have now way surpassed it with this announcement. This is a big achievement for the city and I can guarantee it will have real, tangible benefits.
"Birmingham is only interested in having the most intelligently designed and environmentally friendly buildings and we are in the process of altering our planning guidelines to reflect that."