Japan: Plants used as green curtains on buildings to combat summer heat

Japan: Plants used as green curtains on buildings to combat summer heat

Kyoto:  Every spring, Kyocera Corporation employees at numerous company locations, in different parts of the world, plant green curtains at their offices, and in doing so, set an example in sustainability and climate protection.

In the run up to the hot summer months, the young plants grow to become thick, green curtains of leaves running up the trellises on the exterior walls.

The green curtains screen the building from the sun’s rays, thereby providing shade indoors, and thus, reducing the reliance on air conditioning which consequently contributes significantly to climate protection.

In the last ten years Kyocera has been able to neutralise 90,300 kilograms of carbon dioxide or CO2 using these plant curtains – equivalent to the amount that 6,450 cedar trees would.

Last year, the company’s green curtains were already measured 710 metres in total, and covered a surface area of 2,900 square metres (about 12 tennis courts!), absorbing approximately 10,000 kilograms of CO2.

As early as 2007, Kyocera, together with the local government and an NGO, began to plant green curtains at one of the factories in Japan’s Nagno Prefecture.

The goal was to further reduce the environmental pollution caused by the factory. These activities have been expanded to a further 27 company locations so far.

Through the provision of seeds and DIY guides for green curtains, Kyocera encourages private residents as well as their employees to spread this initiative to their own homes.

The planting of green curtains is not just for the benefit of environment, but also contributes to a balanced diet: Although green curtains are mostly made up of Goya and morning glory plants, other plants such as passion fruit, beans, climbing okra and Japanese baby pumpkins (Cucurbita Pepo) are also used. The freshly harvested vegetables end up on employees’ plates in the canteens of the Japanese company. Where Goya is often eaten as tempura with Japanese udon noodles or prepared as Onigirazu, a Japanese rice sandwich that has become enormously popular in the last few years in Japan.

On the website for green curtain activities, Kyocera offers a comprehensive overview and explanation of the environmental initiative, and in this way encourages the movement to spread.

Illustrations in a step-by-step guide show what materials are required for a green curtain, and how planting works.

The facades of commercially used buildings or residences are protected by plant trellises with the plants adding aesthetic value, as demonstrated at the Kyocera company locations. Kyocera is very keen for other world-wide companies to follow suit and use the power of the Green Curtains, for the sake of the environment and their employees.