Seoul - Building Retrofit Project


The SMG has actively pursued the BRP in public and private sectors to improve energy efficiency and reduce GHG emissions since 2008. The SMG launched the first phase of the One Less Nuclear Power Plant initiative in 2012 to reduce 2 million tons of oil equivalent of energy, as well as the second phase in July 2014 to have a self-sufficient supply of electricity of 20% by 2018. 90,000 buildings will be turned into energy-saving ones.  


The SMG releases the list of largest energy consumers by type on 420 high-energy consuming buildings every year to encourage their voluntary participation in increasing efficiency, which led to an average of 3.6% reduction in energy use in 2014.

The project aims to enhance energy efficiency in 90,000 (20%) of outdated buildings older than 20 years by 2018. The BRP aims to curtail GHG emissions by 1.3 million tons by 2020, or 1,040 tons of oil equivalent. In the first phase, 57 GWh of electricity and $6.6 million in electricity expenses will be saved a year, allowing the full recovery of the investment within 7 years.

It is mandatory to measure the energy performance and enhance efficiency of large buildings, and the SMG also trains ‘energyconsultants’ and energy planners to visit small and medium-sized commercial buildings and houses to provide them with a consultation service for free; as of 2014, 45,000 buildings have received the service.

The BRP was implemented in all buildings from high-energy consuming buildings to single residential houses. Replacing conventional fluorescent lights in all 234 subway stations in Seoul with LED lights was a significant breakthrough. The Korea Finance Corporation fully invested with the support of the Firefly LED Fund established to encourage small and medium-sized companies, and will recoup from reduced monthly utility bills after the lights are replaced.  

Projected Outcomes

The BRP brings about a variety of benefits other than energy conservation. A total of $770 million was invested in reducing energy consumption by 150,000 tons of oil equivalent per year by 2014, which in turn created 11,000 new jobs and strengthens the energy market. The SMG has supplied LED lights to low-income households for free, thus improving energy efficiency in 59 disadvantaged social welfare facilities. Moreover, the SMG improved living conditions by preventing condensation and mold growth and reducing energy costs in 69,000 houses with up-to-date insulation technologies.

The SMG set up the Citizens’ Commission composed of 25 representatives of civil society, religious groups and industries to collect their opinions for the development of policy direction and plans. The Executive Committee frequently organized discussions and workshops to serve the role as a communication channel between the public and private sector. The SMG also has undertaken numerous activities to raise public awareness of the project and the need to enhance energy efficiency, including campaigns, events and advertisements.

Seoul is sharing its project experience through C40 Networks. Since citizens who participated in the BRP on residential buildings have reported high satisfaction levels, the SMG believes other cities can successfully implement the project as well. The SMG hosted the International Energy Conference to share its expertise and the best practices of other cities.