Panasonic, along with eight partner companies, have announced plans to construct a green community from the ground up in Japan’s Fujisawa City. The community will be called the Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town (Fujisawa SST), and by 2018 it could provide a carefully planned, eco-friendly space for 1000 residents. The project has already put forth a bold goal of lowering the town’s carbon output 70% from 1990 levels.
Green building is certainly nothing new, but the thrust of Panasonic’s plan is to start from scratch rather than retrofit existing structures and communities with eco-friendly technologies. The idea is that existing technologies and town planning strategies can be brought together harmoniously from the start, for maximum effect and efficiency. And Fujisawa SST will have it all: a smart power grid; solar cells and batteries in every home; roads designed for bikes, walkers, and electric vehicles; networked public lighting, and more.
In the wake of the catastrophic earthquakes in Japan, the project has also taken on several aspects of disaster response. Fujisawa SST will boast self-sustaining power generation, as well as safety planning and mobility. And with so many devastated Japanese communities looking to rebuild, Fujisawa SST could be a blueprint to model their rebirth.
Of course, Panasonic has a lot of gain from moving the project forward. It will certainly be a major PR boon, and provide a functioning vision of their products working in harmony. It will likely be a testbed for bringing these technologies together, and could have the future benefit of setting a standard for this type of construction; if Panasonic writes the book on how to build a green community from the ground up, future builders will likely follow. Also, the press release makes mention of a building boom in Asia, which Panasonic might be able to snag a piece of with their green technologies.
Panasonic’s press release also mentions that “a new method to assess the value of environmental real estate in smart towns” could be one of the initiatives pursued at Fujisawa. Doing so could provide current and future home owners and builders with an incentive to build houses with Panasonic technology since they now know how much it would be worth on the market, and likely help market the technologies in the process.
Despite the necessary self-interest, the project is a remarkably bold one. If successful, Fujisawa SST could bolster the efforts of green builders worldwide, and grow the market for the products and practices necessary for smarter cities. Assuming the project stays on track, groundbreaking on the project is planned for 2014. If you’re keen to live in what could be the city of the future, you’d best hustle over to Japan.