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Japan Science Technology

Experimental "Smart Town" To Be Built In Japan 91

StormDriver writes "Basically, Fujisawa SST is envisioned as a bottom-up approach to energy efficiency — a green village built from scratch with modern green technologies rather than less-efficient older tech. Panasonic wants to use it as a template for other larger communities in Japan and elsewhere. If all goes as planned, Fujisawa SST will start receiving residents in March of 2014 and finish filling up its houses by 2018."
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Experimental "Smart Town" To Be Built In Japan

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  • He thinks he has the scientific method patented or something...
  • It seems to be all single family detatched houses... no multi-family, no multi-use, relatively low density, no jobs in town.

    • Not having jobs in town is only an issue if there's no public transit in or out, and if it is ridiculously far from the rest of civilization. There are many places around the world like this (though not "green") that function well.

      • by MrEricSir ( 398214 ) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @01:36AM (#36316536) Homepage

        I walk to work, takes 10 minutes. And I do 50%+ of my shopping on the way home.

        Public transit is wonderful, don't get me wrong. But it's no substitute for mixed zone, high-density neighborhoods.

        • Yeah, but unfortunately Walmart probably set ecology back 100 years by decimating the small, walking distance corner markets. Lower prices, higher emissions.

          • Walmart is only a tiny part of the blame. Much of the blame should be assigned to government policies in most of the western world which:
            • Keep property prices high, wages low and oil cheap so serfs are forced to commute long distances
            • Create an inefficient self-serving ineffective multilayer government to discourage people and businesses from living in cities, further contributing to sprawl.
            • Use underwater mortgages (aka "ownership society") so that labor can't quickly follow jobs from one exburb to the
        • It depends what "work" is. If you're making or selling physical goods of any kind then it almost certainly makes sense to have them out of town so that you eliminate the issue of goods lorries coming into the town. If you're wholly a service industry then it's less of an issue so long as out of town employees can also make use of good inbound public transport, otherwise you still have the issue of their cars clogging the streets. Of course the ideal would be a lot more people telecommuting.
        • Public transit is wonderful, don't get me wrong. But it's no substitute for mixed zone, high-density neighborhoods.

          High-density is relative. When it gets too high you just get chaos. When I lived in Austin I could afford to live close to work and it was grand. I had to walk further to shop than to work (unless I wanted to spend a lot of money; I walked through the Arboretum on the way) but I only had to walk ten minutes to shop. When I lived in SF I couldn't find anything I could afford on my salary within easy walking distance of work. Today I'm a little more fit so I'd have just walked it anyway more often than not, i

          • My friend's girlfriend was visiting SF from Japan, and she complained that the city felt "empty" to her. So your idea of density that's "too high" might be someone else's "uncomfortably low."

            • uhhh. could also be a reference to nobody ever walking anywhere in California. I recently visited Cupertino from a city of 80,000 in Canada where we have 1-2 acre lots in my neighbourhood, and the streets felt empty there compared to the number of people out walking on our dead-end street.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I know! It's like they've considered quality of life or something.

    • by macshit ( 157376 ) <snogglethorpe@gm ... com minus author> on Thursday June 02, 2011 @03:06AM (#36316912) Homepage

      Yup... and as a result it will probably be less energy efficient than existing Japanese towns.

      In reality this looks more like a way to sell Panasonic "green" products...

  • ...the radioactive ground up.
  • . . . like nuclear power?
  • Some thoughts (Score:4, Insightful)

    by foniksonik ( 573572 ) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @01:25AM (#36316478) Homepage Journal

    How about local water treatment of waste water. Recycle it through a small hydro plant and then water the lawns.

    How about organic waste being used to feed a methane generator.

    How about a local grid that can recharge electric vehicles with excess power.

    There are a great number of small efficiencies that can be created at the community/neighborhood level which are not feasible either for individual homes or for full cities.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      All great ideas, but from the sparse information in the article, I see the main problem in that this project is just a continuation of the suburbia paradigm. And that paradigm is wrong in any conceivable way. It's industrialized feedlot farming of middle class workers. Where are the shops in walkable distance? Where are the schools, the community centers, the local neighborhood pubs and restaurants? Where are the workplaces close to home? All I see are homes, homes, homes. As long as it depends on heavy com
      • As a family man I tend to disagree in some respects. With kids there is no such thing as shops at a walkable distance (the number of supplies needed requires either a stroller too big for shopping or a vehicle). Restaurants assumes a babysitter or extended family next door and a workplace nearby implies either that a person is self employed, a low wage employee or that you are very near a commercial zone with lots of potential traffic and random influences (not everyone who works at a larger corporate offi

        • So your argument is that because you can't use certain facilities as a parent, like restaurants, no one should have them? Because you feel that you cannot shop by foot because you have kids, greengrocers in the neighbourhood are impossible? You know, the suburbia model is pretty much American only? I wonder who people in Europe manage. Also, you are projecting the way cities are laid out now in America on how they can be laid out. Why would a workplace in the neighbourhood mean proximity to a commercial zon
        • Thats a matter of style of living.

          Where I live, it only lacks a few more pubs, otherwise it is just as your parent poster described.

          Small business like doctors, lawyers, architects are around, bigger business is in 10 minutes walk distance, a little bit farer is even a small commercial park (some software companies etc.) A family easily can walk with a baby in a baby buggy and one at the hand to the next shop and buy what they need for day. Usually you buy fresh bread every morning from the nearby bakeries

        • A little walking never hurt anybody. If you want to buy a lot of groceries, bring a wagon - a lot of families have them anyways for kids, and they make great all-around stuff haulers. Most babysitters I know of come to you - some local highschool girl can probably walk or bike or get a ride to watch your kids for an evening. And, with telecommuting, self employment, biking, and a bit of creativity, there's a good chance that a person can avoid a car entirely while keeping their choice of career. Plus, even
    • Considering the number of e.coli breaks lately (and the one going on in Germany right now), I would want any water I'll potentially handle go through some natural processes first and not just technology that can break down and not be maintained well.

      I remember that when fluorine treatment plants breakdown and add too much fluorine to the drinking water, and how that causes problems. And that's just adding one chemical to good water, not taking out a bunch of crap from bad water to make it good.

      (And yes, my

      • Considering the number of e.coli breaks lately (and the one going on in Germany right now), I would want any water I'll potentially handle go through some natural processes first and not just technology that can break down and not be maintained well.

        Luckily the e.coli in germany are not in the water. Or unluckily, because then you simply could close the water supply until it is clean again and provide emergency supplies.
        The e.coli is on the outside of fruits and vegetables. Especially on those that you usu

    • This is Japan. We don't have much in the way of lawns. And we get plenty of rain, so it's really not needed in the first place. Right idea, wrong country to try it in, I'm afraid.

      The other ideas sound pretty good, though - I'm pretty sure the majority of organic waste gets summarily burned, which strikes me as a potential missed opportunity.

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      The problem with many neat sounding water recycling schemes is that they ignore a basic fact exploited by all large scale water works: water flows downhill. Furthermore, we build large centralized water treatment facilities because of economy of scale. If economy of scale didn't come into play, you'd make every individual dwelling treat its wastewater rather than letting it discharge contaminated water into a common sewer. That leaves these wonderful schemes stuck between the proverbial rock and hard pla

  • Cares not for green
  • Super Sonic Transport? Sorry, I have TLA overload syndrome.
  • If all goes as planned, Fujisawa SST will start receiving residents in March of 2014 and finish filling up its houses by 2018.

    At which point they'll have to redesign from scratch the next village they are templating because all of the technology they are installing now will be "less-efficient older tech."

  • Experimental "Smart Town" to be built, as opposed to all the "Dumb Towns"?

    I know this seems like a crazy far-out there idea, man... but -- hey, let's try to, you know, build a "Smart Town" this time -- it'll be an experiment. Like, what if we make the buildings out of geniuses? I know, right!? Dude, why didn't anyone think of this before?!

    Seriously -- When did "smart" become synonymous with "green"? I thought a "smart" home was one where every light fixture, appliance, or wall socket was connected to an always-on energy consuming whole home computer system that can record everything you do and has voice activated commands for common tasks like, dimming the lights, or wiping your ass and flushing for you -- "Computer, Shit Happened."

    I guess that "smart" home solution finally found the problem it was searching for after all by jumping on the green bandwagon. However, I'd be pissed off if my new green "smart" home was just as dumb as my current one (read: manual everything -- doesn't even have powered locks, windows or steering).

    • When did your home become synonymous with a town?

    • Hybrid engines are technically "smart" -- as in they regulate energy output and utilization based on actual requirements and environmental conditions rather than running the system (the engine) at several preset ("dumb"?) levels. Regulating energy output to match actual usage in real time can save a LOT of energy around the world. Dumb machines will always use energy idling unless manually powered down.
    • Sometimes to become Green, the technology has to be Smart.

      For instance, a business could leave a bathroom light on all day for customer convenience, or there could be some kind of sensor that detects when a customer enters or leaves. The mini-computer would then adjust the light accordingly.

      Assuming it takes less energy to run the sensor all time that it takes to run the light at all times (given that's what will probably happen if impolite customers control the light switch), then it's possible that energy

    • I thought a "smart" home was one where every light fixture, appliance, or wall socket was connected to an always-on energy consuming whole home computer system that can record everything you do and ...

      And posts it to Facebook. 1984 FTW

    • It's because the manufacturers are pushing the concept of Smart Grid compatible technologies: []
    • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @04:40AM (#36317264) Journal

      Seriously -- When did "smart" become synonymous with "green"?

      Why wouldn't it? They are doing a "smart home" experiment here in the Netherlands, with homeowners, appliance manufacturers, energy companies, and the municipality. In this case smart does mean green. For example: instead of just switching on the washing machine, you tell it: "I want this clean by 5". The washing machine tells the home automation system: "I'll need about 2kW for 45 minutes, some time before 5". The home will then negotiate with the grid and tell the washing machine when it can start. It's a bit too early to be sure, but apparently considerable savings can be made this way, especially when the grid has a substantial solar/wind component. It's not about using less energy, but about using the cleanest/cheapest energy when it's available.

      • good thing it's not about less energy....wouldn't that be terrible.

        tips to reduce energy
        - efficient lights w/ auto on/off
        - more home insulation
        - efficient electronics / deep sleep mode
        - don't use the AC/Heat as much
        - smaller fridges/freezers
        - smaller ovens
        - smaller homes
        - more natural light

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Don't worry, you get both.

      I write software for buildings and environmental control is fairly standard now. When it gets too hot instead of turning on expensive AC you just automatically open some vents and allow cool air to circulate. We also do solar panels that are built into blinds that automatically close when the sun is low in the sky.

      Lighting that only comes on when someone is in the room, doors that lock automatically after a few minutes (like modern cars do), even baths that you can control from you

    • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 )
      Smart and green are not synonymous. Smart however is often used to save resources.
    • It's a young field and one consequence is it's still lacking clear direction and an established body of knowledge. using the term "smart" does of course smell a bit, but there's a reason for it.

      The main impetus behind being "green" at this level isn't so much save the planet as it is "we're heading for a time where energy and its distribution genuinely becomes a problem". So, the objective is energy efficiency for the sake of stability of supply.

      One point most people agree on at this point is that a key is

    • When did "smart" become synonymous with "green"?

      When they both started meaning "efficient".

    • My first thought when I read the headline was that they were building Eureka [].
    • Seriously -- When did "smart" become synonymous with "green"?

      Modern cars have all that electronic shit on them for emissions control. The smartest houses will also be the greenest because they will be the most efficient.

      I guess that "smart" home solution finally found the problem it was searching for after all by jumping on the green bandwagon.

      I don't really care why people get on that particular wagon as long as they do so.

      However, I'd be pissed off if my new green "smart" home was just as dumb as my current one (read: manual everything -- doesn't even have powered locks, windows or steering).

      I see what you did there, and I found it slightly smirkworthy.

      The average person, however, doesn't know what a smart home is, so you can redefine it for them and they won't notice.

      In the mean time, why not start smartening up your house?

  • The first time I saw the article, I thought it said Fukushima SST instead of Fujisawa.
  • An attempt to build-in the technologies in at design and construction time, which is easier than retrofitting existing infrastructure.

    Skip over to the "vision and background" section on Panasonic's article []

    E.g. Solar panels on each roof + surplus battery at every home

    Sensor network controls public lighting + LED lighting

    City blocks/roads planned to optimize transportation Etc.

    • You could do this with every town, though. The city planner is responsible for putting the roads in the right place. You can pass laws requiring a permit if you want to orient your house other than properly. You can even have building codes requiring a permit if you want to not have a passive solar design, if you like. You can save fairly obscene amounts of energy by using reflectors on street lights. Usually we don't even have the will to do any of this.

  • by Reed Solomon ( 897367 ) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @02:17AM (#36316678) Homepage

    Is this the opposite of this "Stupid Town" [] built in America?

  • Japan always has a great idea for a smart life.. A lot of invention and discovery are created in Japan. That's why I love Japan! ^^
    • There have been many projects over the years that aim to create a sustainable city []. I know when China announced its eco-city [], it was just as much a showcase for technology that could be exported to other countries as it was an experiment in making towns better for the environment. This is going to be big business in the future once the politicians and those with a vested interest in fossil fuel stop fighting the change.

    • by mldi ( 1598123 )
      Didn't Greenville, Kansas in the USA do this recently? I thought I remembered something about their town being destroyed by a tornado, and they took the opportunity to rebuild "green". The name of the town just happened to fit.
  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @02:38AM (#36316790)
    Every time I read about one of these planned cities, I'm reminded of Walt Disney's original concept for the Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow EPCOT [] - not the theme park it became after he died. The original idea was damn visionary - take a look at the Wikipedia article, or here []. The idea was a community where people lived and worked - I don't know what the word is - synergistically? Certainly a decent first crack at a practical corporate utopia. It makes me really angry that it became a 'ride' instead.
    • by AlgUSF ( 238240 )

      You are talking about the EPCOT where nobody owns real property, and the corporation owns everything. You come home and there are new appliances there, because the corporation thinks you are ready for them. Where all of the residents work for the corporation in exchange for living in this Experimental Community. Yeah, sounds right where this country is headed... The wrong way.

  • I think having unique houses gives neighborhoods character. Also, I wonder what they will do about security, seeing as if they make it the same in all of the houses, you only need to break the system once before getting full access to everyone. (assuming it's done centrally like everything else mentioned in the article.)
  • I work in R&D in Panasonic. We've been talking about Fujisawa internally for some time, nice to see it hit the press -- and be well received. Hopefully the project continues forward. I can't imagine anything much more rewarding than seeing this built and running code that I wrote.
    • by macshit ( 157376 )

      So what do you think about the criticisms expressed in the comments? Is this place really going to be the monotonous cookie-cutter suburban wasteland it looks like in the pic? Will there be mixed development (shops and businesses integrated amongst the homes)? Will there be higher-density housing? What is the plan for transportation (hopefully not cars, if you're looking for energy efficiency!)?

      The extent to which Japan seems to be increasingly emulating some of the more idiotic trends of the U.S. is p

  • Will this work? Yes. They've done it before. For anyone who has been to the TGS and walked to Makuhari Messe you'll see they are quite able to make a whole place. They called it Mihama-ku in Chiba
    Fact 1. The Japanese cannot live without a constant flow of great places to eat in so local jobs and little shops to will be build before the houses I'm sure.
    Fact 2.There will be a train station and 1 hour on a Japanese train takes you as far as *50 hours on an English train so commuting to a job will not be a prob
    • Now that Japan has gone solar, this tech is about to take off. We'll have 50% efficient panels soon.

      Within ten years, right?

      note: I didn't think Mihama-ku was very nice as a future goes. It reminded me of playing syndicate wars on the Amiga.

      The best laid plans of men oft run in straight lines.

      • It will be half the time is was going to be, put it that way. More to the point, when a crazy hits the place, every house will be covered in panels soon. Considering how dependent they are on oil imported I'm surprised it has not happened sooner. - No I'm not, they had cheap energy from nuclear.
  • I am guessing all of those "No Foreigners / Japanese Only" signs are going to be lit with LEDs now?

"Everyone's head is a cheap movie show." -- Jeff G. Bone