The Institute of Industrial Science of Tokyo University, widely regarded as the top university in Japan, has erected a “smart house” on their Komaba Campus, in cooperation with LIXIL Housing Corporation’s Eyeful Home Company. The current structure, the COMMA house (COMfort MAnagement), is the start of a series of prototypes and tests geared toward creating more-or-less self-sufficient home. The project is expected to have plans for a standard smart house by 2020.
The tests of the COMMA house are scheduled to run from this month (August 2011) until March of 2016, integrating home, possessions, information, and lifestyle. The goal is to maximize both comfort and energy conservation — a sustainable house balancing its energy supply and demand without compromising on creature comforts. (Japanese summers, in particular, are brutal — climate control plus energy conservation would be pretty high on my list.) Solar power and equipment, along with energy-efficient items such as LEDs, are all part of the Home Energy Management System (HEMS).
The university is also looking to improve the house’s insulation along with developing more earthquake resistant features.
A perhaps slightly more unexpected aspect of the project is its stated goal of not focusing only on appliances, but also on lifestyle. Despite this assertion, most of the information tendered has centered on the products to be used. A wide range of products from many different companies and industries are already on the board for testing.
The first spate of experiments for completion in 2011 focus on better insulation while also testing solar-powered heaters and air conditioners. Some of the corporations involved in the first stage of testing are: Sharp (photovoltaic systems), Toshiba Home Appliances (A/C, etc), NEC (home storage systems), Yazaki Corporation (Eco Cute solar heat collectors), Yamada Lighting (lighting systems), and Lutron Electronics (control unit/other electronics).
While Tokyo is a long way from self-sustainability, this is one step towards ensuring that power supply and distribution won’t be as catastrophically affected as they were during the Tohoku earthquake this spring.
Source: Kankyo Business.