Seoul goes green with energy-saving houses

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Seoul goes green with energy-saving houses

The Seoul city government is embracing alternative and renewable energy sources through a new housing development aimed at building a residential sector running without fossil fuel energy in Hagye-dong of Nowon District, northern Seoul, by 2016.

The initiative, announced yesterday, marks the first of its kind for the city and is part of efforts to brace for potential energy shortfalls following the government’s plan to reduce reliance on nuclear power.

A total of 122 households will live in the residential area built on passive solar technology. Under the passive technology, homes are constructed to use the natural movement of heat from the sun and air to maintain comfortable temperatures, operating with little or no mechanical assistance.

The combined use of advanced building materials, such as an outside insulation and awning and heat recovery ventilators, will result in “zero reliance” on fossil fuel energy, the Nowon District Office noted. It predicted that the sustainable way of powering energy will reduce annual energy charges by 81 percent, from 787,000 won ($734) to 150,000 won.

“The area is completely free of fossil fuel energy,” said Kim Seong-hwan, head of the district office.

A joint project by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, Nowon District Office, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and Myongji University, the 44.2 billion won project will comprise three complexes housing 106 households and 16 smaller-scale residences.

The Seoul city government said that newlywed couples and university students will be given priority over large families, offering the houses in the form of public rental housing with a maximum dwelling period of six years. The rule is intended to widen the opportunity so that as many citizens as possible will enjoy the green housing.

Along with the energy-efficient technology, the residential homes will be equipped with the latest IT technology such as voice recognition and automatic temperature controls.

“We will also adopt the cutting-edge IT technology to present a new residential model and the tech will contribute to addressing climate change issue as well,” Kim said.

The housing development is also seen as a test for whether the employment of green technology is a viable option for building houses.

So far, the constructors said that the use of renewable energy costs 1.3 times higher than conventional construction methods. But as the government announced that it plans to reduce nuclear’s share in energy supply, the shift towards greener technology now appears to be inevitable. “We’d like to set an example how the green technology can be adopted in a housing development at an affordable cost,” Kim said.


BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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