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Fujisawa Smart Town

Efficient, energy-neutral, safe and truly communal, towns of the future may look a lot like the Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town.

The pioneering project, 50 kilometres south of central Tokyo, is the brainchild of Panasonic and 18 companies keen to put their cutting-edge technologies in the areas of energy, construction, security and the utilities to the test.

The first families have moved into the initial phase of the community, which is built on a 19-hectare plot that was formerly the site of three Panasonic production plants, and the ground has been broken on phase two.

When it is completed, the Y60 billion (HK$3.96 billion) development will be home to 3,000 people in 600 homes and 400 apartments, with associated shopping facilities, restaurants, communal centres, parks and a “Wellness Square” providing nursing facilities for the elderly alongside a clinic, childcare centre and sheltered accommodation.

“We have a 100-year vision for the entire project and we believe the most important thing is how we make this community evolve sustainably and constantly over that time frame,” Hiroyuki Morita, chief of Panasonic’s Business Solutions Division, told the Sunday Morning Post.

Morita said the plan was for the town – which was first proposed in 2008 – to be physically completed in 2018.

Working with local city authorities, Panasonic and the other companies want the town to become the template for future cities, utilising renewable energy technology – primarily solar – and storing that energy for later use or selling it back to the grid.

Other innovations are in sustainable architecture, high-tech smart grids and housing.

The targets the designers have set themselves are also ambitious – carbon dioxide emissions will be 70 per cent lower than a comparable town in 1990, water consumption will be 30 per cent less and more than 30 per cent of energy will be from renewable sources.

In total, the new town will have 3 megawatts of solar modules, making it the largest individual-distributed system of its kind in the world.

An added element – an important consideration as Japan nears the fourth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake – is the incorporation of a community continuity plan that means energy stored in batteries, along with emergency food supplies, temporary shelter and first-aid equipment, is available at the central Committee Centre.

Sufficient energy is stored to provide heat and lighting to the building for three days, along with provisions.

At around Y50 million for a detached home of 120 square metres, the properties are fitted with all the latest enhancements, including solar modules on the roof. Added options include energy-saving kitchen appliances and lighting that activates when a person approaches.

A cupboard in the entrance hall houses a lithium ion battery for storing energy, while a tablet device enables residents to access the home energy management system and monitor the power being generated and where it is consumed.

The hand-held system, which is also accessible through the television, connects homes in the community and enables people to find out and sign up to attend events.

The town’s streets are the first in Japan to be illuminated by newly designed LED security lamps, powered by solar panels and utilising sensors to detect pedestrians, while a network of 47 surveillance cameras provide “security without gates”, Pansonic said.

Residents are also able to take advantage of various sharing schemes for bicycles and cars, including the latest zero-emission vehicles that can be plugged into recharging points dotted around the town.

In contrast to similar schemes, Morita says the management company behind the Fujisawa SST is not looking to make a profit from Fujisawa.

“The town is on target to break even this year, but any profit that we do make in the future we intend to invest back into the community,” he added.

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