Turning construction and logistics in Japan green

Japanese construction goes green

From smart meters to solar panels, the buildings we live and work in are becoming greener as technology and innovation develop. In Japan, one of the largest logistic real estate developments in the country has put sustainability at its heart.

The Redwood Group's Nanko Distribution Center will have thousands of solar panels on top of its roof. "This is the phase one of a two phase 6.5 megawatt solar installation, when it's complete, 28,000 panels will be installed and it will generate about 21,500 kilowatt hours per day on average," Bryan Gould, a renewable energy consultant for the Redwood Group, told CNBC's Sustainable Energy.

To put this figure in perspective, to power an average house in the U.K. with a 1.8 kilowatt hour size system requires around 8 panels over an area of 12.7 square meters, according to The Eco Experts, a U.K. solar price comparison site.

Even if not working and generating clean energy, the panels are still beneficial.

"The fact that you have a solar panel sitting on top of your roof, it gives you a shadow," Stuart Gibson, CEO of Redwood Group, told CNBC's Sustainable Energy.

"So, that shadow actually saves you about 20 percent of your energy costs in the summertime," he added. "Everything here is air conditioned in the summer, so energy costs are quite substantial, so even… if the solar wasn't even wired to the grid it would still save money on the energy costs."

The work at the logistics center in Osaka comes against the backdrop of Japan's reaction to the Fukushima disaster of 2011, when a powerful earthquake and tsunami resulted in a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

"There's a feed-in tariff system in place here in Japan, which was introduced just months after the nuclear accident at Fukushima," Gould went on to explain.

"The government passed legislation that required all the 10 utilities to purchase renewable energy, including solar, at above market prices to stimulate massive investment into the industry," he added.

As well as the solar panels, recycled material has been used at the site in Nanko. "There's a lot of recycled components in the buildings right now," Gibson said.

"The tarmac – the asphalt on the roads – we use slag from the iron furnaces from steel manufacturers, stuff that may go into a landfill," he added. "We clean it up and we use it in our road bases." Gibson also said a lot of the stone in concrete came from demolished buildings.