1.86 million—a number that well exceeds one-sixth of Seoul’s population.
It is also the number of people who are voluntarily participating in Eco Mileage, a citizen-participatory energy conservation program operated by Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG).
Seoul residents are now hooked on energy conservation through Eco Mileage, a program that rewards participants for their conservation efforts with eco-friendly incentives proportionate to the amount of energy saved.
The name of the program, Eco Mileage, is a nod to the program’s founding principle of accumulating rewards for eco-friendly behavior. The citizen-participatory energy conservation program provides eco-friendly incentives in the form of mileage points to those who have conserved energy (e.g. electricity, water, gas, district heating).
Seoul is a mega-city where over 10 million people live together in close quarters. To reduce energy usage levels and greenhouse gas emissions, the widespread participation of Seoul citizens in energy conservation programs is essential. Eco Mileage helps citizens to actively and voluntarily engage in energy conservation at home and in the workplace.
Seoul residents can register for membership in the Eco Mileage program by visiting the Eco Mileage website and submitting a few short forms complete with their personal information. Through the Eco Mileage website, members can easily check and manage their energy usage levels (electricity (required), water, gas, etc). SMG checks the accumulated data on energy usage (electricity, water, gas) every six months and uses this data to award incentives that can be re-invested in low-carbon activities to members who have shown reduced energy usage.
Households that have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by at least five percent in at least two categories ((electricity, water, gas (including district heating)) for six months (compared to monthly per-usage levels over the past two years) can receive up to 50,000 mileage points. Mileage can be exchanged for eco-friendly products or used to receive discounts on apartment maintenance fees. Mileage can also be used to charge public transportation cards or be exchanged for high-efficiency, eco-friendly products.
In the case of corporations and organizations, schools, apartment complexes, and commercial buildings (etc.) who demonstrate exemplary reductions compared to existing per-usage levels are eligible to receive funding for the creation of green areas and/or high-efficiency facilities. Each year, this type of funding is awarded to 200 outstanding Eco Mileage group members.
|Apply for membership and manage your account through the Eco Mileage website||Offline version of the Eco Mileage application form|
The energy that Seoul residents have saved through Eco Mileage since 2012 amounts to a whopping 890,000 TOE (as of September 2016). One TOE (tonnage of oil equivalent) is a standardized unit that refers to the amount of energy contained in one ton of crude oil and can be applied to all energy types. Considering that one nuclear plant produces, on average, the equivalent of two million TOE of electricity per year, residents have already saved—completely through voluntary participation—almost half of the energy produced by one nuclear plant in a single year.
※ Amount of energy reduced each year through the Eco Mileage program (as of September 2016)
|Amount of energy reduction||893,078||101,501||153,375||367,832||210,694||59,676|
|Receiving assistance at a community service center to apply for Eco Mileage membership||Eco Mileage membership card|
The first citizen-participatory greenhouse gas emission reduction program introduced by a local governing body, Eco Mileage has been benchmarked domestically as a model success case by the Busan Metropolitan City, Gyeonggi-do, and Jeollanam-do. Furthermore, it was designated by the Ministry of Environment as a model of cooperation between the government and corporations to encourage/contribute to citizen-led energy conservation. A system is being created for local governments to adopt the program nationwide, and an expanded version (Carbon Point System) is now being operated by local governments throughout the country (with the exception of Seoul). The Eco Mileage program was also an award-winner of Category 3 (Fostering participation in policy-making decisions through innovative mechanisms) of the 2013 UN Public Service Awards and continues to be acknowledged by the international community.
|A church promoting the Eco Mileage program on Sunday||The Eco Mileage promotional booth seen at various events in Seoul|
Eco Mileage points can also be donated to those in need. Mileage points can be donated to the energy-poor. Through the program, donated points are accumulated in the Seoul Energy Fund and are used to provide assistance to those with limited access to energy resources. The Seoul Energy Fund uses the accumulated Eco Mileage points donated by Seoul residents to install solar power facilities, enable more efficient usage of household energy, and provide energy-efficient products to the energy-poor. Eco Mileage is the best way to share energy with those in need.
SMG held a “Winter Energy Conservation Competition” for three months (December 2015 ~ February 2016), which was participated in by 159 apartment complexes and 917 businesses. Throughout the competition, participants sought to reduce their electricity usage by 3.58 million kWh, gas usage by 4.1 million cubic meters, and water usage by 85,000 cubic meters. A monetary conversion of these conservation efforts is equivalent to KRW 3.5 billion, or 10,725 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
The Winter Energy Conservation Competition evaluated not only the energy conservation rates of apartments, but also included assessments of a wide range of other factors including Eco Mileage membership rates, mini-solar plant installation rates, and citizen-participatory activities. A total of 48 apartment complexes were designated as outstanding apartments. For businesses, comprehensive evaluations were conducted based on energy conservation figures and energy conservation activities, and 30 organizations/establishments were designated as outstanding electricity-saving establishments. As part of the competition, some participants replaced the lighting of public areas (parking lots, elevators, etc.) with high-efficiency LED lights, while others installed mini-solar plants to produce their own electricity. Citizens continue to voluntarily and actively engage in many creative energy conservation activities, including the “Happy Lights-Out” program, which involves turning off all your lights on the 22nd of each month from 8-9 pm.