Eco-house Kitakyushu - Look, Feel and Learn -
Eco-house Model Project by the Ministry of the Environment, Japan
Photochemical smog, pollution of Dokai Bay and frequent occurrence of bronchial asthma cases: Kitakyushu City used to fight against these serious environmental problems caused by Japan’s first modern steel plant.
As a result of the united efforts of the citizens, corporations and the local government to solve pollution problems, the environment was improved remarkably. Kitakyushu City was selected as an environmental model city by the national government in 2008; so it takes the lead in this field in Japan.
Now Kitakyushu City is working hard to establish a low carbon society through various projects. It is trying to convert itself into a city utilizing its stock (assets) to the full; thus, it produced “Eco-house Kitakyushu” as the 21st century’s environment-friendly model house for the eco-house project of the Ministry of the Environment, so that it could make a proposal of the energy-saving lifestyle at home.
For interior and exterior materials of the eco-house, Shirasu-Kabe was selected (interior: Satsuma-Nakagirishima-Kabe, exterior: Super Shirasu-Soton-Kabe W).
The design is simple. Taking the way sunlight comes into the rooms into consideration, the house uses the bamboo lattice and eaves to block sunlight that enables coolness in the summer. This design allows sunlight to come in for warmth in the winter. Super Shirasu-Soton-Kabe W, W-128, Kaki-otoshi finish
Eco-house Kitakyushu is located in the “Kitakyushu Environment Museum”, which is a center for environment-related learning and exchange of information that can be used by citizens.
The eco-house has many features, including a simple structure with high durability; a layout that can be easily changed in accordance with the changes of lifestyle or life stage; improved thermal conditions owing to breeze ‘paths’ and others; and the use of various environmentally friendly materials.
Shirasu-Kabe is expected to play a role in humidity conditioning in this eco-house. The humidity conditioning of Satsuma-Nakagirishima-Kabe (Shirasu interior material) reduces the feeling of high temperatures in summer, thus minimizing reliance on air conditioning as well as lowering set temperatures; as a result, energy can be saved. In addition, Shirasu-Kabe contains 100% natural materials that don’t contain chemicals, so it is included in the ‘healthy’ features of the eco-house.
Super Shirasu-Soton-Kabe W (Shirasu exterior material) is highly valued because of its superior heat insulating and humidity conditioning features that protect the house from condensation and humidity from inside and outside.
Furthermore, it was selected because of its superiority as a natural material that was consistent with the concept of the eco-house.
Left: This is an example of using space called “Doma”, a traditional heat regulation method.
Right: The staircase also works as a path for breezes.
Concept of Eco-house Kitakyushu
(1) Universal design in terms of environmental symbiosis should be adopted:
- Focusing on environment-friendly basic performance enabling the enjoyment of natural air circulation (path of breezes); to utilize natural energy (solar power); to keep superior heat insulation.
- A frame with a central support column associated with the hardware jointing method provides a robustness as well as freedom of design.
(2) Fusion of new technologies and products with conventional technologies
- Adoption of conventional technologies and materials such as Doma at the entrance, verandah, bamboo lattice and plaster walls.
- Adoption of new technologies and products including so-called eco-premium products approved by Kitakyushu City.
(3) Collaboration with Kitakyushu Environment Museum
- Aiming at not only dissemination of information regarding eco-houses but also proposal of “an eco-friendly lifestyle and way of living”
- Provide detailed information and the place to experience an eco-friendly house through the guides from the museum.
Three Features of Eco-house Kitakyushu
1. Achievement of environment-friendly basic performance
The environment-friendly basic performance of the eco-house enables you to minimize the energy for living as well as to enjoy a comfortable daily life.
2. Utilization of natural and recyclable energy sources
In addition to the achievement of environment-friendly basic performance, this eco-house uses as much natural energy as possible without relying on fossil fuels whenever possible. The maximum effort is made to utilize sunlight, solar heat, winds, underground heat, water and differences in temperature in ways suitable for Kitakyushu.
3. Ecological lifestyle and way of living
This is the way to achieving comfortable living through utilization of water and plants as well as flexible changes according to life stages.
*In the eco-house various measuring devices are demonstrated and explained on panels
Upper left: Path of breezes; when you pull the string, breezes from downstairs flow through.
Upper middle: System monitors used for the eco-house
Upper right: An instruction panel easily and clearly describes the system.
Lower left: The system warms the entire room with solar heat.
Lower right: The sensors in the wall detect temperature and humidity.
Kitakyushu City aims to disseminate information about eco-houses in order to reduce CO2 emissions from households. It is expected that Eco-house Kitakyushu can reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 3,700kg (60%) annually compared with ordinary houses. It means the reduction of CO2 by an eco-house is equal to the amount of CO2 that 265 cedar trees can absorb in a year.
Eco-house Kitakyushu is going to be used not only as a space for environmental education, but also as a place to provide opportunities to enhance the knowledge and skills of the people in the local construction industry, as well as places for studies to be carried out by universities and other research institutions.
Eco-house Kitakyushu is proof of the seriousness of Kitakyushu City in that it is aiming to be a world leading environment-friendly city.
Many people can look, feel and learn about environment-friendliness here.
Left: 2F, an exhibition space; you feel relaxed because your gaze goes straight through this area; greening of the terrace has improved the heat insulation of the house.
Right: 2F, room for children; you can divide it into two rooms; it suggests a flexibility of layout according to children’s life stages.
Location: In the Kitakyushu Environment Museum
2-2-6, Higashida, Yahatahigashi-ku, Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan
Opening hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (admission ends at 4:30)
Closed: Mondays; Year End and New Year holidays
* There is a charge if you want to visit the exhibition room of the Kitakyushu Environment Museum.