Kyocera Plant Wins Japan’s Third Consecutive Environmental Award

For the third consecutive year, electronics manufacturer Kyocera has won the Minister of the Environment Award for the Promotion of Measures to Cope with Global Warming. This 2012 award was given for Kyocera’s Fukushima Tanagura plant, which won the Countermeasures category in recognition of its environmental protection activities.

Located in the Fukushima Prefecture, site of the nuclear power plant disaster following the Japan earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, the Kyocera facility was the target of an intense effort to conserve energy. Included in the plant enhancements over the last year are an increased use of rooftop solar energy, improved ventilation, stricter carbon dioxide emission controls and forest conservation.

Kyocera Award 1

Image of Kyocera Fukushima Tanagura plant via Business Wire

After experiencing several extended blackouts following the reactor meltdown in 2011, Kyocera decided to increase the power generation capacity on its Fukushima Tanagura plant from 194kW to 230kW. Today, the plant’s vast roof has 1,830 solar panels that can generate enough electricity to power 57 homes. The array now provides about 6 percent of the facility’s power needs and is better prepared to operate longer in case there is any future loss of electricity on the main grid.

Outside the plant, Kyocera planted a green curtain of foliage, consisting of morning glory and goya (bitter gourd) vines, along the west-facing wall of its administration building. The fast-growing plants provide shade that helps cool the surface temperature by an average of 12 degrees Celsius during the summer months and reducing the need for air conditioning.

Kyocera Award 3

Green wall foliage on Fukushima plant, via Kyocera

Another energy saving addition was the installation of demand-controlled ventilation, which provides more efficient regulation of the HVAC system to prevent CO2 buildup. As a result, electricity use for the plant’s HVAC systems fell by 10 to 30 percent. Other conservation enhancements include special faucets to reduce water use, a system to collect water from compressor drains for reuse in landscape irrigation and the purchase of six new hybrid vehicles in the plant’s fleet.

Kyocera’s green efforts moved beyond the plant as well, in the form of a series of “Eco-Lessons” for the local elementary schools. In this program, employees from the plant visited local school to educate the kids about the benefits of solar energy. Since 2007, the employees have provided Eco-Lessons to more than 2,400 students at 56 local schools. Fifty Kyocera employees also volunteered to help thin trees and cut grass in a nearby forested area to promote greater biodiversity.

Randy Woods is a Seattle-based writer and editor with 20+ years of experience in the business publishing world. A former managing editor of Seattle Business, iSixSigma, Claims and Waste Age magazines, he has covered topics that include newspaper publishing, entrepreneurism, green businesses, insurance, environmental protection and garbage hauling (yes, really). He also contributes to the Career Center Blog for The Seattle Times and edits a photography magazine called PhotoMedia. When not working, he likes to hide out in Seattle movie theaters and attend film festivals—even on sunny days.