Monday, October 31, 2011

Korea Green Building Council

Thursday was another busy day. In the morning I was invited to a meeting with Mr. Ian Yoo, Executive Director of the Korea Sustainable Building Council.  Glen Webb and Ken Klassen also attended. KSBC is in the process of amalgamating with the Korea Green Building Council even though the memberships of these two organizations are quite different, those of one being primarily academics, those of the other being practicing professionals. Each organization has a membership of approximately 200. This was an opportunity to discuss various aspects of this merger and to chat more generally about green buildings and various systems of measuring sustainability as well as about the growing need for seniors housing in Korea. Mr. Yoo noted that there is a huge opportunity for green buildings in Korea among builders and developers. Because the current economic situation is not very good and because the cost of land is so very high, very few new buildings are being built. Instead there is a strong market for remodeling and retrofitting existing buildings and growing interest in making these existing buildings more energy efficient. LEED is becoming known and, in fact, the large corporations such as Samsung and Hyundai are using LEED, as are the larger architectural firms. It is popular in high-end office buildings and is now beginning to be implemented in school, kindergarten, commercial and residential projects. There are currently 100 registered projects, 10 certified projects, and 400 LEED Accredited Professionals in Korea, which is not a lot for a country of 50 million people. The Korean Government has its own system of measuring the sustainability of buildings which includes incentives, but it appears not to be very popular. It is also aiming for 100% net 0 buildings by 2025. We advised Mr. Yoo of the shortcomings and inefficiencies of LEED based on our experience but also stressed that the implementation of LEED in the USA and Canada has made a huge difference in the attitudes of people, governments and corporations toward sustainability and the environment. We, therefore, encouraged him and his colleagues to promote LEED and to call on us if there is anything we can help them with. One possibility that Ken Klassen has suggested is to have the Manitoba Chapter, under the leadership of ft3 partner, Marten Duhoux, advise them about the process  it went through to create a directory of environmentally sustainable products.
Mr. Yoo also commented on other initiatives underway in Korea. A number of cities have pro-green programs including Seoul and Kwangju, Korea’s 4th largest city which has an MOU with San Francisco to develop green programs. Also, a group of Korean professors has an MOU with the Passivhaus group in Germany.
Ken Klassen (left), Glen Webb (right), and Rudy getting ready for a group photo in front of the banner

Technical Seminar at Yonsei University
The Fourth Korea-Canada Technical Seminar took place on Thursday afternoon at Yonsei University, a private university founded in 1885 by an American Presbyterian missionary. It is one of the best in Korea. The theme for this seminar was established by Professor Kyung Hoi Lee, who is President of KRIEA (Korean Research Institute of Eco-environmental Architecture), as “State of the Art Green Seniors Housing and Passive Design Technologies.” Professor Lee is also Professor Emeritus and an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute Architects. The latter gave us something in common and we soon developed a good rapport. Upon arrival at the University, Professor Lee took us to meet the Provost, Dr. Il Sun Yang, for tea and gift exchange. She presented each of us with a University tie and a beautiful handcrafted Korean game. Opening formalities for the seminar included welcoming speeches and a special presentation to Glen Webb, Senior Trade Consultant with CMHC International, honouring his efforts towards Korea/Canada relations and the sharing of technical information between the two countries. 
The beautiful Yonsei University campus

There were four technical presentations. Dr. Shin-Young Park, with whom I toured the seniors facilities with on Wednesday, was the first presenter and provided an overview of the current status of seniors and seniors housing in Korea. My presentation was entitled, “Designing Multi-Unit Seniors Housing, Independent Living to Long Term Care, The Canadian Experience.” Ken Klassen, Consultant with CMHC Inernational Training Team, presented, “Designing for Better Occupant Health, Comfort and Energy Efficiency in Seniors Housing.” The final speaker was a local architect, Mr. Jong-Il Kim, MA Architects & Engineers, who spoke on “A Case Study of Zero Energy House in Korea” which focused on what he called the E-plus House. A panel discussion and Q&A followed. One of the main concerns in Korea is seniors housing for the middle class. Developers construct facilities for the wealthy but are not interested in doing the same for the middle class because it is not as profitable. There are no government incentives available and very little history of non-profit organizations, such as service clubs or churches, getting involved in seniors housing. In this regard there was a lot of interest in my presentation.
 Rudy with Dr. Shin-Young Park wearing the scarf with maple leafs.
 Professor Dr. Kyung Hoi Lee making a presentation to Glen Webb, CMHC International
Rudy presenting at the 4th Korea-Canada Technical Seminar
Attendees at the 4th Korea-Canada Technical Seminar
After the seminar we were invited to attend a formal dinner. The dining room was some distance from where the seminar was held. I was invited to join Professor Lee in a large black chauffeur driven Equus (a well designed upscale car made by Hyundai and used largely as limousines in Korea). I must admit I felt like a senior statesman. Dinner consisted of Korean food accompanied with a modest amount of wine. Because of the origins of this university, drinks are limited to wine. I was pleased to see Dr. Shin-Young Park wearing the scarf that I gave her the previous day. My wife, Edith, purchased a number of Manitoba/Canada gifts for me to take along. As an aside, I told Shin-Young and her colleague, Misook Lim, when I gave them the gifts on Wednesday, that my wife had not only purchased the gifts but had also selected the wrapping paper and wrapped them all. Misook was so impressed she came to this seminar with presents for both Edith and I.
The dinner was a wonderful way to end the day, experiencing our hosts’ warmth and hospitality. I felt a real openness to developing and nurturing the kind of ongoing relationship that I was hoping for.

- Rudy P. Friesen

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