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South Korea

South Korea has a thriving public sector energy conservation program that encompasses not only its national government, but also city and state governments and public corporations. Its various initiatives are carried out both by government agencies (e.g., the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Energy) as well as by the government-chartered Korean Energy Management Corporation (KEMCO). A big boon to Korea's effort was the 1995 revision of the Rational Energy Utilization Act (originally promulgated in 1979.) While some of Korea's initiatives predate the revision, it both created new programs and strengthened existing ones.

Three programs are particularly notable. The Prior Consultation on Energy Utilization Planning Program, begun in 1993, aims to affect energy-related projects such as the construction of new public buildings or the extension of railway systems. The goal is to influence these projects while they are still in the planning stages. By the end of 2001, the program had impacted 245 projects, promoting the installation of energy-efficient equipment and systems, as well as larger-scale (e.g., cogeneration) and renewable energy installations. Currently, the six-member staff is trying to broaden the program's reach through the use of financial incentives and "on-the-spot" assistance to promote highly energy-efficient design.

The Energy Conservation Guideline for Public Institutions, started in 1997, directs the creation of annual energy conservation plans, including reduction targets, by public organizations. One element is an efficient public building code requiring the installation of energy-efficient systems and equipment in new public buildings. Transportation energy is addressed by a "Voluntary 10% Reduction Program," as well as the purchase of higher-efficiency government cars. Also urged is the use of ESCOs to address existing buildings. Among the sites affected were the 2002 World Cup stadiums in Seoul, where energy-efficient motors, transformers, and lighting were installed, and heat is supplied through landfill gas. Another success is the Gwachun Government Complex, where an investment of $180,000 in efficient fluorescent lighting is saving $100,000 annually.

In the purchasing arena, Korea maintains an "Energy-Saving Product List" that includes both products that fall under Korea's national energy information labeling program, like clothes washers and cars, as well as energy-using products that hold the Korean endorsement label for being more efficient than others of the same type. In all, 55 product types are covered. Public sector purchasers are required to buy models with the endorsement label, which covers 43 classes of products.