In a recently published white paper by Solidiance, an Asia-based consultancy firm, Tokyo ranked in the fifth place as the best city assessed for green buildings worldwide.

The white paper, titled Top 10 Global Cities for Green Buildings, rates cities based on criteria that take into account the city’s green building landscape, its green building efficiency and performance, green building policies and targets, and green city culture and environment.

The report paints a promising picture for Tokyo’s green building scene. In 2002, the city was the first of the list to introduce green initiatives. Its first Building Environment Plan released in June of that year outlined environmentally-friendly approaches to buildings. It aimed to create a market where environmentally friendly building was highly evaluated.

According to the white paper, as of 2016, 8% of Tokyo’s total building stock is green-certified. CASBEE, a national alternative to LEED, accounts for almost 90% of certifications in the city.

In Tokyo, buildings with floor area exceeding 5,000 sqm must comply with rules pertaining to four criteria: streamlining of energy use, appropriate utilisation of resources, protection of natural environment, and mitigation of heat island phenomenon.

The result is a city at the forefront of the fight against human-caused environmental damage.

Tokyo’s goal is to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 25% by the year 2020 relative to 2000 levels. To do so, government-imposed mandatory reductions were applied to different industry sectors. The regulation required a 6% reduction for plants and other industrial sectors, and an 8% reduction for office buildings and shops, between 2010 and 2014; the first planned reduction period.

Additionally, the city implemented a “Cap and Trade” program, which sets a limit on total emissions by a sector. The program allows companies that reduce emissions by more than the required percentage to sell the savings as credits, indirectly placing a tax on excess CO2 emissions by any company that fails to reduce its output.

In Tokyo, all new buildings are by law obligated to undergo environmental performance evaluation. The rule, outlined in the Evaluation and Publication Programme of Environmental Performance, future-proofs buildings, ensuring the buildings meet existing construction code. New buildings must also have published an environmental plan, a document in which are included the results of the evaluation.

Interestingly, by requiring building owners to display their environmental evaluation rating, the value of buildings with high evaluation scores is elevated in contrast to their low-scoring counterparts. Thus creating an additional, indirect incentive to implement green design and technology into both new and existing constructions.

Financial incentives don’t stop at CO2 credits. The Energy Saving promotion Scheme offers tax breaks to small and medium enterprises for reducing their environmental impact. The incentives exempt parties, be it individuals or companies, from enterprise taxes when they introduce energy efficient equipment and renewable energy facilities. As a result, Tokyo is the lowest consumer of energy per capita ranked on the list.

Solidiance’s report tells an encouraging story about the Japanese metropolis. The white paper finds no glaring flaws, no obvious weaknesses, and no areas where Tokyo lags behind. Instead, what is described is a strong environment, one that encourages the acceptance and implementation of green building designs and technologies. Since 2002, Tokyo has proven to the world the value of pioneering, early adoption, and government incentive guidance. The city is well on its way to creating a living, more sustainable tomorrow. The eastern capital is a city of the future. ( – RA)

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