South Korea unveils completely eco-friendly building

Fri May 20, 2011 8:34am EDT
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SEOUL (Reuters Life!) - South Korea has opened what it says is the ultimate eco-friendly business center, a construction that emits zero carbon and uses only renewable energy, in a project to underline the government's commitment to reduce greenhouse gases.

The 2,500 square-meter building, which houses a climate change research center at Incheon near the capital Seoul, was opened last month by the environment ministry at a cost of around $8 million.

The ministry's National Institute of Environmental Research (NIER) said it hopes the building will cut CO2 emissions by 100 tonnes a year -- the amount of carbon released from a 2000 cc car driving about 200,000 km. It hopes to save about $100,000 in energy costs.

Jae-Bum Lee, an NIER environmental researcher, said buildings are responsible for about 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in South Korea.

"Unless we cut this, it'll be difficult to achieve our goal (of emissions reduction.) And this is why the project to build this type of structure is very important in reducing emissions," he told Reuters.

Green growth is a major policy pillar for administration of president Lee Myung-bak as Asia's fourth-largest economy aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent from projected levels by 2020.

The NIER, which says the construction is the world's first carbon zero building for business, uses 66 kinds of technologies including energy saving techniques such as solar heating and geothermal energy.

"We believe this carbon zero building will play a symbolic role for the country's low carbon and green growth policy to raise public awareness of reducing greenhouse gases," NIER said in a brochure.

(Reporting by Lim Da-hee; Editing by Jeremy Laurence and Elaine Lies)

<p>The National Institute of Environmental Research (NIER) building, covered with solar cells, is seen in Incheon, west of Seoul, May 16, 2011. REUTERS/Truth Leem</p>