Seoul’s ‘Eco Mileage System’ wins 2013 UN Public Service Award

C40 city Seoul recently won a United Nations award for its “Eco Mileage System”, an innovative online program that drives reductions in energy consumption and carbon emissions in households and businesses. The program was recognized in the category “Fostering participation in public policy decision making through innovative mechanisms” in this year’s UN Public Service Awards (UNPSA). This annual competition sponsored by the Division for Public Administration and Development Management recognizes excellence in public service in countries worldwide.

Here’s how it works: households and businesses can monitor their energy consumption through an online platform that also allows members to track savings over time. Members with good energy-savings records are incentivized to invest in driving further energy reductions. For example, in the case of a household, the amount of energy consumption is converted into carbon emissions. If the household reduces emissions by 10 percent or more compared with the same period of the previous year, it receives 50,000 mileage points (worth around KRW50,000, or almost US$50), which can be used to buy LED lamps, energy-saving taps or transportation cards.

By engaging private households, businesses, and energy-related entities, the “Eco Mileage System” has demonstrated remarkable success not only in reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions, but also in raising public awareness. Since the launch of the program in 2009, Seoul has reduced 122,000 tons of oil equivalent (TOE) of energy consumption and cut CO2 emissions by 355,000 tons. Membership has surpassed 1 million, and more than 10 percent of users have received incentive points for their energy consumption reduction.

The “Eco Mileage System” was just one of four awards Seoul took home at the UNPSA ceremony.

Seoul is also up for the C40 & Siemens Citizen’s Choice Award for its “Hydrogen Fuel Cells” project. The Award shortlist is comprised of innovative urban projects that have significant potential for environmental impact.