Korea Fertilizes Low Carbon Green Growth

Climate change is causing sea levels to rise and some say that global warming may be the primary reason hurricane Sandy was so destructive. Protecting the environment is more important than ever and there’s a lot of talk about green growth here in Korea.

To get a look at what companies and the government are doing here in Korea, I dropped by the Low Carbon Green Growth Expo 2012 held yesterday at COEX in Seoul.

This is the biggest event related to green growth in Korea and more than 200 companies showcased their environmentally friendly products and technologies. While national and local government representatives talked about incentives, policies and partnerships aimed at fueling green growth.

Big Korean companies like Samsung and LG’s main themes seemed to focus on how to combine solar power with other electricity-saving technologies. This makes sense as both have divisions that make solar panels, batteries appliances and home electronics.

One energy-saving technology, illustrated above, involves connecting all appliances to a central control system in the home. This can automatically run them when electricity is cheapest or in adequate supply. If you run your home on solar power, this is especially important. The system can cycle through running appliances one at a time and ensure that the dishwasher, the clothes washer and the air conditioner won’t start up at the same time. On a cloudy day, there might not be enough solar energy to run them all at the same time.

Another great idea comes from a much smaller company.Coffee is exploding in popularity in Korea but used coffee grounds are quite harmful to the environment if they are buried in the ground. A company called The Young Farmers found a way to use coffee grounds as a nutrition source to cultivate delicious mushrooms.

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Recycling has been an important part of sustainability for decades. Since 1985, when most Korean just threw away milk cartons after drinking, Boolim Paper made toilet tissue from recycled milk cartons, reusing good paper stock that previously went to waste. The company started the popular phenomenon of Koreans cleaning and drying their milk cartons for reuse. While their toilet tissue may not have flower images or special scent, it is one of the most eco-friendly toilet products available.

Computers make work so much more productive but they also use a lot of electricity. ECOM noticed that people rarely turn off their computers when heading off to meetings or when leaving the office. The company created a special USB hub called Eco Touch that helps computers go into low-electricity mode when the owner is off for lunch or meetings. It’s very simple to use. The Eco Touch has a big green button that you press when you’re going to be away from your computer. This sends a signal for the computer to go into low power mode. Software included with the Eco Touch helps you track your power savings and the company claims that one year of use with a desktop computer can have the same effect as planting 80 trees.