Japanese urban planning can be pretty horrible, especially in large cities: A riot of neon signs and electrical poles combined with a lack of greenery have created some truly ugly cityscapes. Panasonic and eight partners hope to change that a bit with a new super-green smart town set to open in 2014.
The Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town (SST) is aimed at reducing CO2 emissions by 70 percent compared with 1990 levels.
The completely networked town will be a 19-hectacre subdivision built on a former Panasonic plant site some 30 miles southwest of Tokyo. It will house about 3,000 people whose lives will revolve around being energy conscious: the 1,000 homes and other buildings will have solar panels to generate electricity and smart appliances, as well as home fuel cells.
The batteries might include the fridge-sized Ene-Farm developed by Panasonic and Tokyo Gas. They say the Ene-Farm can reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions by 35 and 48 percent, respectively, from typical Japanese household usage and can help lower home utility costs by up to $740 annually.
Plans for the SST call for features such as EV recharging stations, LED lighting, surveillance cameras, and "wind paths" to accommodate wind patterns in Fujisawa, a city of 400,000 on Sagami Bay. There will be plenty of trees, too.
The project will cost some $739 million, and all homes are expected to be occupied by 2018. I wouldn't be surprised if SST gets way too many applicants. Fujisawa has beaches, a surfing culture, and plenty of sunshine, so it's an ideal location for this experiment. If it's successful, it could become a model for future green communities.
Yet since ordinary Japanese in ordinary towns already have to obey complex rules like dividing trash into five categories with multiple collection days, I can only imagine how many regulations there will be in this green utopia.