Sustainability Files :
Eco-conscious Support for the Great East Japan Earthquake Reconstruction

Four years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake hit on March 11, 2011. Panasonic promotes businesses and CSR activities to contribute to the reconstruction of affected areas, including developing sustainable, safe, comfortable, and eco-conscious towns.

Supporting Reconstruction is Our Corporate Mission

Panasonic positions Tohoku Reconstruction Solutions as a corporate project involving the entire Group. In order to contribute to the reconstruction of houses, creation of new towns, and revitalization of industries in the quake-affected areas, mid- and long-term collaborative activities by relevant departments within the Group are essential. Katsurou Sakai, who heads the project, says “some cases require our efforts in a five-year range or ten-year range period. Nevertheless, fulfilling social responsibilities by supporting recovery is a corporate mission.”

One of the key measures of the project is to offer Panasonic's unique solutions in accordance with the reconstruction plans by national and local governments, as well as the current situation in quake-affected areas.It also participates in a consortium working for the reconstruction of the affected areas and promote CSR activities. Panasonic’s eco-conscious products, systems, and technologies, such as the HIT photovoltaic power generation system, storage batteries, HEMS, and energy-saving home appliances play important roles in the promoting such initiatives.

Katsurou Sakai
Executive in charge of Tohoku
Reconstruction Solution Project
Panasonic Corporation

Achieving Both Disaster Prevention and Eco-consciousness through Photovoltaic Power Generation and Storage Batteries

Following the Great East Japan Earthquake, the Ministry of Environment established a fund program promoting deployment of renewable energy and the like (Green New Deal Fund program) designed to develop communities resistant to disasters and have less environmental impact. Quake-affected areas have introduced this program by deploying renewable energy systems such as photovoltaic power generation and power storage systems for disaster prevention centers such as schools and public facilities. A considerable number of local governments have also deployed Panasonic’s high-output, high-conversion-efficiency and highly durable HIT, as well as an energy creation-storage linked system which uses a lithium-ion storage battery linkable to existing solar cells and can be installed outdoors and in low-temperature environments.

One example is the medical and welfare center in Wakuya-cho, Miyagi Prefecture. While energy output by HIT is used in daily operations of the center, it is stored in a battery. In case of a power outage caused by a disaster, the stored electricity will be supplied to the training hall used to accommodate injured people or house the disaster countermeasures headquarters. This allows the center to function as a disaster prevention center.

20kW HIT solar module installed on the roof of the Wakuya-cho Medical and Welfare Center

20kW HIT solar module installed on the roof of the Wakuya-cho Medical and Welfare Center

Eco-conscious Coastal Tsunami Monitoring System Reliable During Blackouts

A total of 65% of the central area of Higashi Matsushima City, Miyagi Prefecture was flooded by the tsunami caused by the earthquake. Based on the fact that the town’s disaster prevention systems stopped operating due to power outage, Panasonic has developed a coastal tsunami monitoring system that sources power independently.

This system continuously operates a network camera with power generated by HIT and stored in a battery. Even in the event of power outage, the cameras installed in three coastal locations within the town will continue to work and transmit video to the City Hall Disaster Countermeasures Headquarters, enabling constant tsunami monitoring.

In normal times, the system is eco-conscious in that it does not consume power provided by utilities. A wide range of potential applications are considered, including monitoring anglers or swimmers, and providing meteorological or sightseeing information via WiFi.

Coastal tsunami monitoring system
Network camera and self-sustaining power supply system installed on the Omagari Coast / Coastal Tsunami Monitoring System Configuration

Industrial Development and Energy Conservation through Practical Use of New Construction Material

Cross laminated timber (CLT), which has higher performances in terms of heat storage and insulation, durability, and workability compared to standard wooden construction materials, is becoming familiar mainly in Europe and the US. The Japanese government has also made a cabinet decision to adopt a policy to establish a building design method using CLT made in Japan.

The practical use of CLT will lead to the development of the Tohoku region, where forestry is one of the prime industries. Accordingly, Panasonic jointly worked with the Fukushima Prefecture CLT Promotion Council and Shibaura Institute of Technology and measured the heat storage and insulation performances and electricity consumption during the use of air conditioners in the CLT experiment building. The energy-saving performance of CLT buildings was also evaluated, and it was verified that comfortable spaces can be created year-round through eco-conscious air-conditioning.

Based on these test results, the first CLT apartment housing in east Japan were completed in Yugawa Village, Fukushima Prefecture this February. A wide variety of Panasonic’s eco-conscious products, systems, and housing equipment were adopted, which enhances environmental efficiency and design aesthetics.

Shibaura Institute of Technology’s CLT experiment building in Aizuwakamatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture Half-type HIT is installed on the roof
Measurement tests in the experiment building

Eco-conscious Support towards Education for the Next Generation and Lives of the Elderly

The Tohoku Reconstruction Solutions Project promotes CSR activities that support the education of children who are the future major players in reconstructing the region, as well as healthy lives of the elderly. More than 40 programs were held in fiscal 2014, many of which were relating to the environment. One example is the LED craft workshop, where participants of all ages can learn the features and mechanisms of LED and enjoy making original lamps. On-site educational programs for elementary school children are also held. In the Eco Lighting Class, children learn about energy-saving through experiments using incandescent, fluorescent, and LED lamps. They also learn about the evolution of home appliances and eco-conscious products, and then think about their own eco-conscious actions in the Eco-Stories program. Workshops of making hybrid toy cars powered by solar and dry batteries are held as well.

In addition, as part of labor and management cooperative volunteer activities, employees visit temporary housing and help create comfortable and eco-conscious living spaces by cleaning ventilation fans or changing lamps, which is welcomed by the residents.

LED craft workshop at a temporary housing in Minamisoma City, Fukushima Prefecture / CSR program “Eco Lighting Class” in Minamisoma City, Fukushima Prefecture / Hybrid toy car craft workshop at a Panasonic shop in Kesennuma City, Miyagi Prefecture