Reducing and Reusing in the Built Environment

In the U.N. 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Goal 9 is to prioritize the building of resilient infrastructure that promotes inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fosters innovation. To this end, building a more sustainable world means being intentional about design – how we manufacture what we build and how the things we build will be maintained, modernized, reused and recycled.

A growing part of Dow’s portfolio, and its own 2025 Sustainability Goals, is deliberately in line with this agenda. Specifically in the area of the built environment, Dow businesses have shown up strong, helping catalyze positive, local impact for the building industry and enabling the recyclability and carbon-mitigation of entire structures. One such example is the modular housing project undertaken at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.

Building Solutions

For the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, venues were spread out across the host city. Because of the heavy influx of foreign visitors and the distance between these venues, official drivers were hired to transport people around the host city. To accommodate these drivers, modular housing was developed.

In these houses, PIR panels developed by S.Y. Panel Co. – a local building panel manufacturer in Korea — with Dow’s PAPI™ Polymeric MDI, were utilized to insulate both the walls and roofs. Dow’s PAPI™ Polymeric MDI in the panels helped ensure that a higher thermal insulation performance was achieved with thinner material thereby reducing waste. As a secondary result of this thinner material, construction was expedited, shrinking the construction process from days to mere hours. Another major win? Construction was completed at half the typical cost.

Once built, these modular structures also function on half the amount of energy that is required for similar buildings with standard insulation panels – and they are 98% recyclable, meaning their potential for reuse can actually beyond the Games themselves.

Reduce, Reuse, Rebuild

In the year since PyeongChang 2018, the modular homes have seen a renaissance. To date, 40% of the material from the original structures has been transformed into 191 modular house units for the Korean military. These units are situated in various mountainous areas but mainly in the northern part of South Korea where temperatures mirror the cold climate of PyeongChang and a well-insulated structure is vital for comfort and efficiency. New uses for the remaining 60% of the modular homes’ recyclable material are currently in discussion.

On this Earth Day, Dow is proud to be a part of a greater solution for the built environment – seeing innovation break the status quo, promoting the reduction, reuse and recycling resources, and watching people live more comfortably along the way.

Learn more about this project here.