In 2009, the South Korean government announced a plan to build a million green homes and improve energy efficiency in a million more, along with many other sustainable building projects [source: Watts]. Two years later, the government announced the construction of a $9 billion offshore wind farm [source: Bloomberg Businessweek]. But perhaps the biggest single project had been underway since 2001.
The Songdo International Business District is a 1,500-acre waterfront city lying 40 miles (64.4 kilometers) outside of the country's capital of Seoul. The city is a designated free economic zone where businesses can operate without the tax burdens in existence elsewhere in the country [source: Cortese]. The $35 billion development features several pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods comprised of office buildings, homes and retail shops, all of which adhere to LEED standards. The city is also part of the LEED for Neighborhood Development pilot program, which rates the connectivity and sustainability of neighborhood design. In 2008, the master plan for the city earned a Sustainable Cities award. (However, while 40 percent of the city is set aside for parks and green space, critics point out that the site was built on wetlands that had been home to several species of migratory birds and other wildlife [source: Ko. Schubert, Hester].) The first phase of Songdo officially opened in August 2009, and construction planned for completion in 2018 at the earliest [source: Strickland].