South Korea’s green building growth | Korea Green Building Council | Chungha Cha

Chungha Cha - Asia Green Buildings

As South Korea is undergoing rapid industrialisation and growth, there has been an increase in energy use and environmental impact. There’s also growing need for energy reduction strategies and environmental action to make a sustainable city. Korea Green Building Council recognises that the deployment of  green buildings is one of the most important factor in the construction sector, with the aim of making an eco-friendly and sustainable city.

Chungha Cha, Vice Chairman of Korea Green Building Council, talks exclusively with AsiaGreenBuildings on the green buildings growth in South Korea, the best practices around green buildings construction in Korea,the main challenge in green buildings industry and how green buildings plays role to combat the climate change issue.


How have you observed the growth of green buildings in South Korea ?

Though Korea’s green building market has shown relatively slow growth in the past, there have been signs of increased activity since 2013, when green building regulations were strengthened.

There are a total of 81 LEED certified and 1639 G-SEED certified buildings in South Korea (excluding projects currently under review). In terms of Gross Floor Area, about 50% of all new construction in 2015 in Seoul was G-SEED certified, and experts expect regulations to be further strengthened.

What are the best practices around green building construction here in Korea?

There are a couple of notable green buildings in South Korea that have received LEED and G-SEED certifications. We would like to add, however, that we are shifting our focus away from certifications and similar accolades. For example, a LEED Silver building may not necessarily be energy efficient; therefore, we have been focusing on asking what a buildings’ energy usage is in kWh/m2.a to find out whether it is really energy efficient and “green.”

Some notable green buildings in South Korea includes Naver NHN Building (Highest scoring LEED-Platinum Building in the world), Naver Connect One Data Center (The first LEED-Platinum certified datacenter in the world), Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) Naju Headquarters (Certified LEED Platinum), Green Smart Innovation Center by Hyundai E&C (Certified LEED Platinum)  and JW Marriott Dongdaemun Hotel (Certified LEED Gold, achieved 30% reduction in energy costs without any increase in construction budgets.

What are the main challenges in the green building industry and how do you think could be quick win to cope with it?

We believe the lack of growth in the green building industry is the fact that real estate investors and building owners are still wary of the value – cost benefits they have towards green buildings. Our top priority is thus to build such a business case for real estate investors and developers. We are now in the process of developing a report including success cases of green buildings that are financially attractive investments.

The key success factor in building a business case is the process of linking green features to the real estate valuation model. We are catering our message specifically towards CFOs and real estate investors, or those who write the checks, so to speak. This target group must be spoken to in terms of Net Operating Income (NOI) and Internal Rate of Return (IRR), not long term paybacks and Life Cycle Costs.

How do you think green building practices can take part to combat climate change effectively?

The most effective strategy is to start early in the design process with low cost, no cost passive design strategies to reduce energy loads. Building energy simulation is key to linking passive design strategies to the financial model, as it can help maximize energy cost savings and minimize upfront costs, thereby optimizing investment returns.

In new construction, our advice is not to rush toward getting building permits but to spend additional time up front with architects and engineers to run proper analyses first. Such an investment will save up front construction costs (CAPEX), save operating expenses (OPEX) in the form of energy bills, and can further help finish construction faster by using BIM tools. For example, clash detection analysis in the 3D design models prevents costly problems and delays before they occur on site.


About Korea Green Building Council

Korea Green Building Council is a non-profit, non-governmental association registered under the Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) and the Ministry of Environment.  KoreaGBC membership is comprised of major stakeholders with a “Shared Vision” for a carbon neutral built environment to help combat Climate Change. KoreaGBC mission is to help drive sustainability in the building sector and raise awareness of the benefits of green buildings with several activities

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