Date Published: Aug. 1, 2017, 9:46 p.m.
he Seoul Metropolitan Government initiated the building retrofit programme in 2008 in order to increase energy efficiency and reduce the city's energy bill.
Buildings account for more than half (56%) of Seoul’s total energy consumption and for 87% of the city’s electricity consumption. Building energy use reduction through efficiency and other measures is a priority for the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG). The Building Retrofit Program (BRP) began in 2008, and expanded in 2012 as part of the SMG’s “One Less Nuclear Power Plant” initiative. It was an ambition plan to reduce the city’s GHG emissions by 40 per cent by 2030 and to prevent the construction of another nuclear plant. The programme aims at improving energy efficiency in buildings from both the private and the public sector by installing new, or retrofitting existing equipment, and by improving wall and windows insulation, heating and cooling, and illumination.
The program targets buildings owned by Seoul’s government such as the City Hall, the SMG’s affiliated offices and municipal corporations and social welfare facilities.
The money saved by reducing energy consumption from retrofits in public buildings is reinvested in citizen welfare programs. In order to institutionalize the support for the energy-vulnerable and to lay the foundation for universal energy welfare for all citizens as their basic rights, SMG created the Energy Welfare Fund thanks to citizens’ donations and by the profits from the production and conservation of energy in relation to the solar power business, LED, BRP, and Eco-Mileage. The raising of funds as well as management and distribution is handled by the Citizen Council composed of 100 citizens –in collaboration with civil society and professional organizations such as the Seoul Council on Social Welfare and Community Chest of Korea, it is expected that 100.000 citizens will be involved by 2018. The fund will be used to help the energy-poor improve their homes energy efficiency and reduce their energy bill. Seoul has set the following goal: by 2018 it will enhance insulation in a total of 150 senior citizen and community welfare centres; it will replace the lighting system of 750 social welfare facilities and 120,000 households entitled to National Basic Living Security benefits; finally, it will replace balcony windows, elevators, security lights, and boilers with most energy-efficient products of 115,000 public rental housing units (23,000 unit per year).
More recently, Seoul has implemented energy retrofitting initiatives in the city’s basic urban infrastructure. These focus mainly on introducing intelligent electricity load management systems in water purification centres, and in improving the energy efficiency in sewage treatment utilities by replacing old motors with high-efficiency ones, and converting into heat source the digestion gas generated in the sewage treatment process.
To encourage participation from the private sector in the building retrofit program, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has:
By mid-2016, 20.000 buildings have been upgraded and their energy performance data made publicly available. Earlier information show that in 2014, the BRP had completed energy efficiency renovation in 1.221 high-energy consuming buildings; 10.000 individual houses; 82.962 public rental apartments; 59 city-built social welfare facilities; 30 universities’ campuses; and 640 low-income households.
The main benefit of building retrofit programs is a considerable reduction in energy consumption, which leads to saving significant amounts of money, both for the local government and the private building owners and tenants. In 2013, Seoul had already cut city GHG emissions by 230,000 tCO2, and the city government expects to reduce energy consumption by 1 million TOE/year; reaching total reductions of 3.15 million tCO2 by 2017. Other benefits from efficiency programs in Seoul included a reduction of construction waste, more funds available for citizen welfare programs, and an increased civic cooperation and participation.