sustainability in Japan

Construction industry in Japan and its sustainability

Scale of the construction industry in Japan

Construction is actively growing industry in Japan with a lot of commitments into sustainable development.  Investments into the construction reached its biggest value in 90es, when they were on the level of 80 trn yen, but then dropped after Lehman Brothers shock significantly to the 41 trn yen. After that construction filed showed recovering to 3.7-4.4% from the 2015 level and grew to 61 trn yen, but then dropped again  in 2018. Due to the Corona crisis investments fell to 60 trn yen in 2020.  In 2021 construction industry reached 62.6 trn yen, where governmental sector is 18.5 trn yen, and private investors sectors is 38.1 trn yen.

Environmental vision and management of construction  sector in Japan

According to the Voluntary Action Plan for the period 2021-2025, published by Japan Federation of Construction Contractors (Nikkenren), for the nearest future organization will be focused on three main topics: environmental management, decarbonization, cyclical society. Special attention will be paid to cooperation with government and stakeholders, where procurement, planning, construction will be the part of internal system, and customers, especially administrative organs, materials manufacturers, construction machinery manufacturers, and will be interacting within the other part of management system. All interactions will be dedicated to sustainable topics, mentioned above.

source: Nikkenren Voluntary Action Plan for the period 2021-2025

It is expected, that new construction machinery products will enter the market, and decarbonization investments to materials, construction by‐products processing plants will increase. To make information disclosure clearer, special online streamings about SDGs, ESG investments, carbon taxes and carbon credits guide and other topics will be provided on a special channel, managed by the Nikkenren. 

Federation aims to achieve a 40% carbon Emissions Intensity between 2030-204 and is promoting various activities to achieve C02 Zero for construction process itself  by 2050.

What evaluation systems are used in the construction sector?

Comprehensive Assessment System for Built Environment Efficiency (CASBEE) is a method of evaluating and rating the environmental performance of buildings and the built environment. CASBEE was developed by a research committee established in 2001 through the collaboration of academic organization, industry and national and local governments, which established the Japan Sustainable Building Consortium (JSBC) under the auspice of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT).

CASBEE has been designed both to enhance the quality of people's lives and to reduce the life-cycle resource use and environmental loads,  associated with the built environment, from a single home to the whole city. Consequently, various CASBEE schemes are now deployed all over Japan and supported by national and local governments.

Particularly, CASBEE covers the following four assessment fields: (1) Energy efficiency (2) Resource efficiency (3) Local environment (4) Indoor environment. 

In 2019 Nikkenren conducted a CASBEE related research about buildings energy saving efficiency, that were constructed by its members. Especially Building Energy-efficiency Index (BEI) was measured, which showed that most of buildings have BEI under 1, that means very high energy saving level of buildings.

Super general constructors and their SDG activities

One of the super general constructors Shimizu Kensetsu reported its SHIMZ Beyond Zero 2050 vision with three main focuses – decarbonization, resource circulation and coexistence with nature. The companies target is to use 100% renewables, reduce CO2 20%, to obtain external certification 100% for all Shimizu’s sites and buildings till 2030. Main certifications is CASBEE, mentioned above, DBJ Green Building certification (sustainable real estate certification, established by Development Bank of Japan Inc), BELS(building certification, according to the Energy Conservation Act, that includes BEI(Building Energy Index)ZEB(Net Zero Energy Building. The last includes four stages ZEB, Nearly ZEB, ZEB Ready,ZEB Oriented), also LEED certification (established by U.S. Green Building Council and assessment provided by Green Business Certification Inc.).

Shimizu also offers green property+® rental property series, that includes sites with Shimizu original ecoBCP technology (resilient buildings, building with disaster resistant technology) and technology, that commits to the the whole supply chain decarbonization by using cutting edge energy saving technology and implementing renewables. The last one is an additional value that is marked as PLUS.

Taisei Kensetsu offers  original urban-type ZEB®, that means transition of urban-type office to ZEB and creating convenient working environment in the city. The concept is based upon three elements: smart offices, comfortable for working, ZEB by using energy saving technologies, renewables, AI, IOT, original Taisei’s technologies (T-Light® Cube, T-Fresh Air® and others) ) and BCP technology, which guarantees safety and business continuity. 

Kajima based its sustainability 2050 vision on「Zero Carbon」「Zero Waste」「Zero Impact」targets with intermediate values to achieve 50% CO2 emissions decreasing, 60% main recycled material usage rate, 0% construction site waste by 2030.

International cooperation and governmental support

There are few organization, that are supporting foreign construction projects. The Overseas Construction Association of Japan, Inc. (OCAJI) is composed from leading construction companies in Japan, and provides support of overseas activities development and the promotion of international cooperation as a representative incorporated association mainly for ASEAN countries. JICA also provides technical cooperation projects, related to construction, mainly for ASEAN region as well. Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism offers cooperation for emerging countries in the field of apartment and architecture construction and researching and implementing construction standards. 

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