Buildings account for more than half (56%) of Seoul’s total energy consumption, making building energy use reduction through efficiency and other measures a priority for the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG).
Under the Building Retrofit Project (BRP), Seoul has partnered with building owners and energy conservation companies in its efforts, which include improvements in wall insulation, installation of insulation windows and high efficiency heating/cooling devices and LED lights. The program allows energy companies to recover their up-front investments through energy savings over time, and Seoul makes these investments possible by offering competitive loans to building owners and energy service companies.
What is it
Seoul’s Building Retrofit Program (BRP) aims to save energy and boost efficiency in buildings by installing new – or improving existing – equipment.
Launched in 2008, the program originally targeted public buildings, including City Hall, the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s affiliated offices and municipal corporations and social welfare facilities. Over time, the program has expanded to include residences as well as private buildings such as universities and hospitals, with the money saved from these retrofits in turn invested in citizen welfare programs. In 2013, approximately 14,000 different types of buildings were participating in the BRP.
The rate that citizens have participated in the BRP has significantly increased over the course of three years. Specifically, insulation and improvement of the house environment have been popular among citizens.
In 2014, Seoul aimed to target high-energy consuming buildings, implement a pilot project to turn aging apartment complexes into an energy-saving buildings and make public disclosures of energy efficiency information for all the city’s apartment complexes.
How does it work?
The Seoul Metropolitan Government provides low-interest loans to buildings and energy service companies to help ease the burden of installation costs and enabling greater citizen involvement. Specifically, Seoul offers 8-year loans at 1.75% interest rate per year for up to $1.87 million for each project (current market interest rate is hovering over 3.8%).
Under the BRP, buildings follow eco-friendly construction practices – energy conservation, reduction of pollutants, etc. – throughout the whole process of construction from designing, building, maintenance, and demolitions.
New buildings are subject to stricter energy standards throughout the entire construction process, while existing buildings are required to improve energy efficiency in case of renovation or maintenance.
Benefits of the BRP include saving money through reduced energy consumption, reduction of construction waste and more funds available for citizen welfare programs. These positive effects of the program help lay the foundation for a sustainable city.
Along with other measures like providing energy education for citizens and offering tips on energy conservation, the BRP will help Seoul reach its goal of reducing GHG emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2030. 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 and reach total emissions reductions of 3.15 million tCO2 by 2017.
The SMG plans to expand the BRP. More specifically, it is going to scale up its efforts to better manage energy demand of buildings, achieve greater energy consumption from high-energy consuming buildings, and improve energy efficiency of residential buildings.
The SMG is also planning to require all buildings to indicate their energy efficiency levels so that building can be evaluated according to their energy performance.
The BRP is being implemented on all types of buildings, including public, private, energy-intensive, small and mid-size commercial and residential buildings. Citizens who have participated in the BRP have reported high satisfaction with the program; Seoul believes other cities can successfully implement a similar program. Moreover, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has organized numerous events including the International Energy Conference and the Energy Safe City Forum to make public its energy policies and share best policies of Seoul and other countries.
Geum Ho Kim, Environmental Policy Division, Seoul Metropolitan Government