More and more housing suppliers are pitching eco-friendly “symbiotic housing” that incorporates traditional Japanese aesthetic values such as the texture of wood and the ability to reflect seasonal changes.
The trend comes more than a decade after the state and housing industry first began developing materials compatible with the environment.
The results of these efforts — highly adiabatic-efficient walls and double-pane windows, efficient heat pumps and floor-heating systems — have begun to spread rapidly in recent years, claimed an official of the Institute for Building Environment and Energy Conservation.
In July last year, Asahi Kasei Homes Co. started marketing Hebel Haus Sorakara (from the air) — a model that has an inner court where one can walk about in pajamas.
“A balmy breeze on a hot day and a pool of sunlight on a cold day have come to be valued highly again,” an official of the company said.
The basic Hebel Haus is L-shaped, and windows face the inner court, which has a boarded floor.
The company said it kept partitions to a minimum in order to let a lot of sunshine and wind pass through the structure.
“(The house) is comfortable to live in even on a sultry day with a temperature of 30 C and humidity of 70 percent,” the company said.
It is the product of a computer-aided design and could not have been designed based on “a hunch and experience” alone, the company asserted.
The construction cost is “about 10 percent higher than a conventional house,” as external walls are longer. But, if the inner court is also considered floor space, it is relatively cheap.
The open-style housing, however, is not fit for cold and snowbound areas.
Higashi Nihon House Co., based in the city of Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, and specializing in wooden houses, has developed a “new wooden box system” — a solid structure that is airtight and prevents warm air from flowing out.
Since it uses energy for ventilation, the house utilizes solar power in combination with conventional power to create “a comfortable space to live in,” the manufacturer claimed.
PanaHome Corp., an affiliate of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., has debuted the El Solana series of houses featuring high energy efficiency.
The company claims an El Solana house can reduce heating and lighting costs to “about one-third” that of conventional housing.
It utilizes a solar energy system that can be installed even on rooftops with complicated shapes.
The government-run Housing Loan Corp. started providing extra loans for construction of “symbiotic” housing in April.
As of the end of last year, 88 housing models of 76 housing suppliers had been certified as symbiotic housing by the state-run Institute for Building Environment and Energy Conservation.
In recent years, condominiums and large apartment complexes with ponds have started to apply for certification after installing systems to utilize wind power for water circulation.