Korea A Leader In Sustainability

Korea was among the first countries to support green growth as a national development strategy, and it is spreading its green philosophy and knowledge. Few countries are as committed to growing in an environmentally sustainable manner as Korea.

When President Lee Myung-bak was inaugurated in 2008, he hailed “low carbon, green growth” as the nation’s new guiding economic development philosophy, stressing that environmental stewardship can be an engine for economic growth.

“If we make up our minds before others and take action, we will be able to lead green growth and take the initiative in creating a new civilization,” Lee said in his speech. And his government has followed through.

Korea was among the first countries to enshrine green growth in its national development strategy. During the global financial crisis in 2008, the country dedicated 80% of its fiscal stimulus plan to green growth projects, particularly infrastructure and transportation. In 2009, it announced plans to invest US$85 billion in clean energy technologies and implementing its green growth plan, estimated to create more than one million new jobs and bolster a clean-tech export industry. That emphasis on environmental sustainability is partly credited for Korea’s early recovery from the economic crisis.

As part of its Five-Year Plan, implemented in 2009, Korea committed 2% of its GDP through 2013 to create a knowledge and technological foundation to sustain a green growth economy for generations. The investment fuels some ambitious goals, including:

  • Developing the world’s first nationwide “smart grid” system by 2030.
  • Increasing the country’s renewable energy to 11% of energy supplies by 2030.
  • Reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2020.
  • Building 1 million green homes by 2020.

The emphasis on green growth doesn’t stop at the border. For the past decade, Korea also has been out front in helping to forge the path to green growth, and it is further committed to playing a bridging role between advanced and emerging countries in preparing for post-industrial means of producing wealth and reducing poverty.

Shifting Course

Korea’s economic development during the last century was swift, but it initially overlooked the environment.

Korea moved from an impoverished, war-torn country to an economic powerhouse and the world’s 15th largest economy in less than 50 years. It used an aggressive export policy to become one of the world’s most competitive economies, dominant in automobile manufacturing, ship-building and electronics. It is also became a case study of the need to change historical patterns of production and consumption, and to more efficiently use and manage natural resources. Korea’s meteoric growth lifted living standards, but its greenhouse gas emissions almost doubled between 1990 and 2005, the highest growth rate among OECD countries.

Today, Korea is showcasing green growth in action and is aiming to be a leader in green technology.

In Songdo, for example, Korea is building a digitally-connected city that comprehensively intertwines physical and technological infrastructure on 1,500 acres.

Seoul. Credit: Adam Inglis (cc)Water from the mountains reaches Seoul before exiting into the Han River. This stream had been filled with earth and covered with a road. Credit: Adam Inglis (cc)

Designed to set the standard for urban centers and become a regional trading hub, Songdo might be one of the first truly “smart” cities in the world. It embodies the need to build up rather than out to reduce costly road construction, reliance on single-person transportation, productivity loss, pollution and wasted energy. Grey water from baths and sinks will be recycled on-site; and a subway system, water taxi fleet, bike and car sharing services, and buses powered by renewable energy fuel cells are designed to limit traffic.

Spreading Green Growth

Korea is also leading by example. It has quadrupled its foreign assistance budget since 2000, to US$800 million in 2009, and it has pledged to boost financing of green energy, conservation and development projects to 30 percent of the total aid budget by 2020.

Some of its outreach efforts include:

Technology: Developing countries suffer disproportionate losses from storms and weather-related natural disasters, due in part to a lack of adequate of forecasting capability. This is especially true in Sri Lanka, which has been ravaged by landslides, flooding and a tsunami. Knowing what the weather is going to be like has a great bearing on human activity patterns, for engineers and public safety officials to devise solutions and sound alerts, deciding when to plant, irrigate and harvest or head out to sea to fish.

The Korean government recently finalized the installation of a COMS (Communications, Ocean and Meteorological Satellite) system to help Sri Lanka by allowing officials to share data, analysis, and forecasting capability.

The system is part of the East Asia Climate Partnership, a US$200 million initiative announced in 2008 to bring Korea’s know how and resources to foster green growth, adaptation and improved resource management to developing countries.

Water: Azerbaijan is plagued by upstream industrial pollution of the Kura-Araks River and insufficient groundwater resources. Only 50 percent of the population has access to piped water. The Korea International Cooperation Agency has pledged to build reservoirs and treatment facilities that will clean, recycle and better manage water resources for more than 300,000 people.

The aid agency is also committed to sharing water management technology and constructing dams and irrigation channels needed to efficiently and effectively sustain agricultural production in the Philippines, where agricultural production has decreased dramatically due to sustained drought.

Policy Advice: The Global Green Growth Institute is an outgrowth of President Lee Myung-bak’s commitment to next generation energy sources and technologies in order create the kind of growth necessary to stamp out poverty without a heavy environmental footprint. The institute’s catalyzes innovation from subnational and sectoral sources, offering a policy laboratory intersection for leaders of industry, finance, academia and government.

Another center, the OECD Korea Policy Center, established in 2007, fuses the expertise of four disciplines to provide tax, economic, governance and health policy advice to enhance the competitiveness of developing nations in the Asia-Pacific region.

“As responsible members of the global village, we have an obligation to work together in order to fight climate change, and take action to make sustained prosperity on Earth possible, not only for the current generation, but also for generations to come,” Korea’s Presidential Committee on Green Growth states on its website. “The future of our nations today, and of humanity tomorrow, depends on how we respond to climate change now.”

Largest Real Estate Company Attracts Tenants With Sustainability Systems

As e-commerce siphons an ever-larger portion of retail sales, what keeps businesses and consumers congregating at shopping malls?

For Simon Property Group, the largest real estate company in the world with approximately 326 retail properties in North America and Asia, at least part of the answer is tied its innovative sustainability agenda.

Eco amenities can help attract tenants and shoppers.
Eco amenities can help attract tenants and shoppers.

By testing groundbreaking new energy-efficiency and waste-management processes, for example, the mall operator hopes to encourage successful retailers to take up residence because their operating costs might be lower in a Simon Property than elsewhere.

“These systems range from very simple to very complicated, but the common theme is how can we make it easier for our tenants,” said George Caraghiaur, Simon Property Group’s senior vice president of sustainability.

Energy management systems have been installed across a large portion of its facilities, which cover a massive 245 million square feet. Daylight harvesting technology helps handle tasks such as turning lights on and off when appropriate, while telematics applications are being deployed to help malls automate their cooling and heating settings according to ever-changing variables, such as outside air humidity. The team also is evaluating its demand-response options, in order to earn price breaks when utilities face peak load situations.

Managers can access all of the data that Simon Property collects so they can compare consumption to other sites.

Aside from what it can do for tenants, Simon Property seeks to attract the sort of shopper who cares about his or her individual environmental footprint. One demonstration is its substantial investment in electric-vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, meant to help assuage lingering range anxiety associated with EVs.

“Malls are somewhere between work and home, so it’s a natural place to put them,” he said. “If people come to the mall, they will spend time here.”

Caraghiaur is the first to acknowledge that some programs Simon Property is trying are challenging and unproven, which is one reason the company lets individual property managers take the lead when tackling new initiatives. But two ongoing pilot programs make it clear the company is willing to take risks.

In North Carolina, for example, the Concord Mills outlet mall has created a dedicated “Plastic Room” where a hydraulic baler is used to compress clear packaging materials such as shrink wrap, garment bags and other shipping materials generated by the local retailers and notoriously difficult to sort out. Local partners pick up the 160-pound bales at regular intervals for recycling.

Over the past six months, 140 retailers at the Concord Mills site have helped the mall staff collect about 20,000 pounds of materials, diverting it from landfills, according to Caraghiaur.

One big challenge was figuring out where to install the baler and store the bales.

“Most malls are designed to house tenants and make the shoppers’ lives comfortable, but they are not necessarily configured to make it easy to do recycling,” he said.

The plan is to collect a year’s worth of data to document costs versus benefits. That information will be used to identify other locations where similar projects might be feasible.

“Our goal is to learn what issues we will face,” Caraghiaur said. “In the end, we will take the lessons learned and apply them elsewhere.”

Simon Property has been aggressive in installing charging stations as a perk for EV drivers, placing about 100 systems at more than 40 properties so far, mirroring EV adoption trends.

simon2

It hasn’t stopped there: Its location in Carmel, Ind., agreed in early 2013 to test a first-of-its-kind system developed by several technology companies, including Toshiba, Duke Energy, ITOCHU Corp., Tom Wood Automotive Group and Indiana’s clean tech program, called Energy Systems Network.

The fast-charging system relies on 10 kilowatts (10 kW) of solar generating capacity and it comes with an integrated, 75-kW battery from Toshiba to store that power, so the chargers still work when it’s cloudy or after dark.

Simon Property doesn’t charge for usage. Instead, Caraghiaur said, it views the chargers as an amenity for shoppers who happen to be parked at the mall.

Source: http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2013/05/28/simon-ups-tech-lure-tenants-shoppers?page=0%2C0&mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRokuqvJZKXonjHpfsX56%2BQlX6e2lMI%2F0ER3fOvrPUfGjI4DTMZnI%2BSLDwEYGJlv6SgFSLHEMa5qw7gMXRQ%3D

Energy Efficiency Forum Promotes Best Practices

Collaborative Presentation On Energy Efficiency

“In this period of expanding domestic energy supply, the forum will highlight efficiency’s role as a cost effective resource to meet increasing energy demand,” says USEA Executive Director Barry Worthington. “Efficiency can also help make our communities more secure, resilient and sustainable.”

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PGE’s landmark solar project in Arizona.

“Improving energy efficiency – whether in the transportation or the built environment – is truly the fastest, cheapest, and easiest way to decrease dependence on oil, reduce pollution, and save families and businesses money on energy bills,” Heather Zichal, deputy assistant to President Obama for energy and climate change said.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT

The United States Energy Association (USEA) is the U.S. Member Committee of the World Energy Council. USEA is an association of public and private energy-related organizations, corporations, and government agencies. USEA represents the broad interests of the U.S. energy sector by increasing the understanding of energy issues, both domestically and internationally. In conjunction with the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Department of Energy, USEA sponsors our nation’s Energy Partnership Program. USEA sponsors policy reports and conferences that address global and domestic energy issues, and organizes trade and educational exchange visits with other countries. Membership in USEA is open to all organizations having an interest in the energy sector of the United States.

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