New Yorkers hear about a bevy of energy-efficient technologies and strategies, but one town just outside of Tokyo takes that to another level. NY1’s Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.
An hour outside of Tokyo stands a new town that is a model of efficient living.
Panasonic worked with a consortium of 18 other companies to recycle its old factory site into Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town (SST).
Homes are equipped with the latest energy saving features. Solar panels that line the roofs and roads, to achieve some lofty benchmarks: a 70 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and a 30 percent reduction in water usage.
Progress is monitored and made publicly available at the town management center.
"Community residents can see at once how much this town is using electricity, emitting CO2," Takeshi Arakawa of the Fujisawa SST Management Team, said through an interpreter. "As they can easily see how far this community has reached its preset goals, their awareness towards the environment intensifies."
Not that the Goto family needed much encouragement. Takamasa Goto said living makes it easier for anyone to maintain an eco-friendly lifestyle.
"Rainwater is stored and given to plants," he said through an interpreter. "Food waste and fallen leaves are made into compost."
Goto was also able to replace his gas-powered car with an electric one because each home comes equipped with a charging station that can be monitored from a phone.
Since knowledge is power, residents receive a monthly report that details their energy usage down to each individual appliance.
While the goal may have been to build a smart town, what has resulted is a sort of concept community. Since all residents are interested in living a greener lifestyle, Fujisawa SST has become fertile ground for new friendships.
Events are held at a centrally located community center. There are shared resources, like a fleet of electric cars and motored bicycles, which not only eliminates the need for individual consumption, but also paves the way for something more.
"By sharing, people-to-people connections are made," Arakawa said through an intrepreter. "As a result, a sense of community is being fostered."
"When such an energy efficient lifestyle spreads not only here but across Japan, and all over the world, there would be no more energy-related wars, like wars over oil," Goto said. "Then, a peaceful world will come."