As part of its long term sustainability activities, every spring Japanese electronics company Kyocera plants what it calls ‘Green Curtains’ at its sites in Japan and some other parts of the world. These provide shade the buildings, lowering inside room temperatures by around 2oC, which helps reduce energy consumption from air conditioners.
The curtains are made of foliage grown on trellises in front of office windows and walls. In Japan, plants grown include morning glory vines, cucumbers, peas and goya, a traditional summer vegetable known, as bitter gourd, which helps prevent fatigue in the hot summers. These vegetables end up in special dishes served in employee cafeterias.
The green curtains also absorb CO2 emissions - one square metre of foliage takes in approximately 3.5kg of CO2 per year. In 2012, the 830 metres of Green Curtains grown by Kyocera, covering an area equivalent to 13 tennis courts, helped to meet regional energy saving targets in Japan.
There are now 28 sites growing Green Curtains, including Kyocera facilities in Japan, China, Thailand and Brazil. On its Website about Green Curtain activities, Kyocera encourages individuals and businesses to adopt the practice by providing photos and illustrations that show the materials used, as well as instructions for making Green Curtains at work or home.
Review: One of the interesting things about the whole subject of sustainability is that there is never just one answer on how to achieve it. For example, looking inside buildings can reveal many ways to make them more energy efficient, which was what my last post, on simulating energy use in new buildings, was all about. But Kyocera shows what can also be done outside.
Not only do the curtains reduce energy use, they also absorb CO2, produce food for the company cafaterias and make the buildings look nicer, with a lush green and flowery decor. It somehow seems a more holistic and sustainable solution than many approaches. And its from a technology company, although Kyocera’s Japanese heritage gives it a head start in sustainability.