Solar Energy to Be Prominent in Panasonic and Partners’ “Smart Town”
When Walt Disney opened Epcot (the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) in 1982, the theme park was designed to showcase and use the new ideas and new technologies of that decade. Disney’s original vision was to build a model community of 20,000 residents in central Florida — a self-sustaining town that made use of modern technologies — with Epcot at its “center.” (Hence the park’s original name, EPCOT Center.) Disney died before Walt Disney World was completed and the city of Epcot never came to fruition. If it had, though, we might imagine it as something very similar to the Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town, a “city of the future” in Japan.
Panasonic and eight other companies are spearheading and funding the building project, which makes widespread use of energy saving solutions — it’s a true city of the future for 2011.
The 19-hectare (that’s almost 50 acres), is being constructed on the former site of a Panasonic plant and will include 1,000 homes, plus commercial buildings and services for about 3,000 residents. Not surprisingly, a host of solar energy technologies are planned for the project, with a goal to reduce carbon emissions by 70 percent from their 1990 levels.
Energy Efficiency First
As with any solar energy project, a major focus will be to create the homes to be energy efficient, with energy saving lighting, air conditioners, and appliances. The emphasis will be on control systems designed for efficiency and connected systems using Panasonic’s technology. New homes will be constructed with plenty of space for solar panels and storage batteries, and an entire solar panel array to power commercial and public spaces will be designed to blend with the town’s lush, green landscape. Control systems, built-in sensors, and surveillance systems will make it easy to conserve energy across the town.
Timeline for Sustainable Smart Town (SST) Opening
The city is expected to be complete by 2014, with all homes occupied by 2018. Accenture, Mitsui & Co., Mitsui Fudosan Co. / Mitsui Fudosan Residential Co., Nihon Sekkei, ORIX Corporation, PanaHome Corporation, Sumitomo Trust & Banking Co., and Tokyo Gas Co. are partnered with Panasonic for the project.