- I have heard that, since 2020, a new housing experiment has started under a new theme.
We have so far conducted various experiments with a theme for each six- to seven-year phase, but we have decided to implement our experiment project more flexibly in timely response to housing issues from 2020. From the perspective of achieving a low carbon society, the most urgent housing issues include energy-saving and CO2 emissions reduction. However, we don’t want to sacrifice comfortability for them. Therefore, we have set a theme of developing comfortable housing that can also help reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions.
Another issue we now focus on is disaster readiness. The recent frequent occurrence of natural disasters has heightened public awareness of disaster readiness and also public expectations for housing to function appropriately in response to disasters. Therefore, we have defined our second theme as developing housing that is ready for emergencies.
- What specific experiment have you been conducting to pursue your first theme “developing comfortable housing”?
We entirely renovated apartment No. 503 in the building to create a housing facility named “Wellness ZEH Kazekaoruya.”
- I have never heard of “wellness ZEH.” Is it different from so-called ZEH*?
The ZEH has already become an ordinary style of general single-family houses. Therefore, we have decided to combine an energy-saving ZEH with wellness functions of ensuring the good health of residents and comfortability for them. More specifically, we have defined a wellness ZEH as a ZEH that can maintain the winter indoor temperature at 18°C or higher and the inter-room temperature gap at 3°C or lower. If the ongoing experiment can verify that the apartment has these functions, we will propose our wellness ZEH as next-generation housing to the general public.
* ZEH (net zero energy house): A house that has the enhanced functions of heat insulation and energy-saving and is installed with high-efficiency energy equipment and energy generation equipment to ensure the annual primary energy consumption in the house is equivalent to or lower than the annual primary energy generation therein
- How have you succeeded in developing a ZEH?
First of all, we enhance its heat insulation function to the ultimate level in structural terms while installing 3.6 kW solar panels and the latest high-efficiency Ene-Farm for dual power generation. We have thus successfully transformed the urban apartment building into a ZEH building.
- A 3.6 kW solar panel installed on a handrail in an external corridor and the latest-version 700 W Ene-Farm unit with a power generation efficiency of 55% installed in the area behind an apartment
- Have you added the wellness functions to an apartment in the ZEH building?
Yes, we have. In those terms, we had an outside expert participate in our project to design the apartment while checking the indoor thermal environment distribution and its changes over time through simulation. After residents begin to actually live in the apartment, we will verify whether or not the apartment can really satisfy the requirement of the winter indoor temperature at 18°C or higher and the inter-room temperature gap at 3°C or lower.
- What other functions did you focus your efforts on to make the apartment comfortable housing?
One of those functions is air conditioning. Since some people feel uncomfortable with the wind from an air conditioner, we have installed apartment No. 503 with a gas-fueled hot-water floor heating system and a ceiling panel cooling system to lessen dryness and discomfort caused by currents from the air conditioner.
In addition, we also focus our efforts on ensuring the apartment is airy and fragrant, as its name “Kazekaoruya” (lit. “housing with fragrant breezes”) implies. Many houses today have small or fixed-sash windows to ensure a high level of heat insulation. In contrast, we have chosen to ensure good ventilation in the apartment, especially in spring and fall with mild weather, so that residents can live comfortably. For that purpose, we have cut openings on the south and north sides to let winds pass through.
- The shoji sliding door to the entrance hall has frames that can move vertically to create openings at the top and bottom and let winds pass through.
- The multiple windows are small enough to prevent someone from breaking into the apartment, so residents can go out with the windows open.
- What do you mean by “fragrant”?
Fragrant natural wood is used for the apartment. A study has shown that wood used for about 70% of the interior surfaces of housing helps residents sleep more deeply. Under the supervision of the outside expert who had conducted the study, we aimed to create a living environment where residents can relax and lead healthy lives while enjoying the excellent fragrance of wood.
Since comfort achieved with air conditioning, ventilation and a fragrant natural material cannot be measured numerically, we will interview the residents on how they feel about their lives in the apartment to verify whether the objectives of our design have been fulfilled.