As with everyone else in America, we’ve been glued to our TVs this past week watching the outcome of the horrifying earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The devastation is incomprehensible and almost half a million people have lost their homes.

This is especially relevant for the sustainable building industry as Japan has long been recognized as a leader in sustainable building and energy efficient design. Sustainable design in Japan is accredited through the Comprehensive Assessment System for Built Environment Efficiency (CASBEE) which can be loosely compared to the USA’s LEED program, and has been in place for more than 10 years, leading to dramatic improvements in sustainable design.

Some of the most amazing “green” buildings in the world are in Japan, including the ACROS Fukuoka in Fukuoka City – a building which on three sides is a conventional office tower, with the fourth side being a tiered green roof that reduces energy consumption and keeps the temperature normalized for tenants. It also harvests rainwater for building use, and (almost incidentally) provides a lush greenspace for city residents reminiscent of NYC’s Central Park.

It’s too early yet to plan rebuilding, while Japan is in crisis and coordinating rescue efforts, but the cost to rebuild has already been estimated in the billions. For a country that’s so dependent on importing resources, it will be a long and difficult process to rebuild all the homes that have been lost, but with the strong leadership of the CASBEE organization and a focus on reducing energy consumption across the country, I think we’ll see a lot more sustainable homes and businesses being built in the next 10 years… all for a cleaner, more healthy Japan in the future.

P.S. Our hearts go out to the citizens of Japan. If you haven’t already, please consider donating to the American Red Cross to help with emergency efforts by clicking here.

Source: Green Horizon

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