Two years after construction began, Hyundai Kia Automotive Group has opened its new $58 million Environmental Technology R&D Center.

Located at the southern edge of Seoul in South Korea, the five-storey, 14,233 square metre building houses 200 researchers and more than 400 high-tech equipment. Facilities include a 700-bar hydrogen filling station, a fuel-cell endurance tester, an emissions lab and a pilot dismantling plant to improve the recycle rate of end-of-life vehicles.

The building itself follows environmental principles. The toilets work on a vacuum system which we'd rather not investigate too closely, but which is estimated to save 1500 tons of water annually. The floors are made of recycled tyre rubber, and electricity required within the building will be generated during fuel cell tests rather than taken from the mains, reducing CO2 use by 1000 tons per year.

In the words of Group Vice-Chairman Sang-Kwon Kim, the R&D Center will help Hyundai and Kia "to realize its vision of becoming the world leader in environmental technology through the development of products and core technologies that are in full compliance with global environment regulations. Through world-class environmental management practices, we look forward to playing a leading role in helping to solve global environmental issues."