Panasonic Kicks Off ‘Sustainable Town’

Panasonic has officially inaugurated a “sustainable town” intended as a laboratory for environmentally-friendly technologies.

Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town (SST), located south-west of Tokyo, is built on a 19-hectare plot on the coast of Kanagawa Prefecture, the former site of a Panasonic factory making televisions and refrigerators. The site now features rows of solar panel-topped houses, a public square equipped with a giant sundial, and a community centre featuring a fancy bookshop.

Zero emissions

The town is currently populated by more than 100 households, and is expected to accommodate about 3,000 people when it is completed by 2018, according to Panasonic, which leads the consortium of 18 companies backing the town in areas such as technology, banking and utilities.

The town’s goals are to cut carbon emissions by 70 percent compared to 1990 levels, reduce water use by 30 percent compared to 2006 and for 30 percent of energy to come from renewable sources, Panasonic said, with the ultimate goal being zero carbon emissions from the houses.

The first residents began moving in earlier this year, and Panasonic said the town will collect data on the town’s technologies to fuel further research.

The houses include Panasonic appliances, including control panels for controlling energy management, security and lighting. The houses include special electrical sockets linking to a power source that can be used even during blackouts – the town aims to provide its own energy for up to three days during disasters such as the 2011 earthquake.

Power generation

The houses include fuel cells, lithium-ion battery units for storing energy generated by the solar panels, and tablet software for tracking solar energy production and sales to the grid operator. Air conditioners and other appliances can also be controlled via smartphone apps.

The houses and the streets outside use LED lighting, with the streetlights equipped with motion detectors that mean they are fully on only when needed.

Residents can connect to a community web portal via the house’s Panasonic television, where they can look up courses at the community centre, monitor the town’s energy production, keep track of the availability of shared electric cars and bicycles and watch live footage from the town’s security cameras.

A mobile app also allows residents to swap information such as crime prevention tips and news on social gatherings.

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Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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