Ichijo USA is a construction company that is currently one of the largest builders home builders in Japan. Since their founding in the U.S. in 2011, they have focused on using environmentally friendly materials and providing a healthy living environment in Washington State. Ichijo was involved in building the first zero net energy home project in the U.S. in Issaquah, WA. Many Ichijo homes have solar panels, in-floor radiant heating and sustainable building practices.
Ichijo’s home building technology is unique. They say they dig deeper to create homes that embrace form and function with technology at the core. “It is technology that enhances your home and life without sacrificing comfort and livability,” says Mr. Ohno, the president of Ichijo USA. They design homes to confine energy to the house like thermos using environmentally friendly materials.
For example, Mr. Ohno said that the technology from Ichijo that is popular in the U.S. is in-floor radiant heating that supplies heat directly to the floor of a house. Most of the houses in the U.S. use a forced-air furnace for heating and air conditioning. Mr. Ohno points out that it is not good for your health because it mixes the air with house dust and saprophytic bacteria in the room and makes unhealthy and unsanitary living environment. It also sometimes causes poor circulation. Therefore, American customers who care about the health of their living environment often get the in-floor radiant heating system.
Once the difference between the USA and the Japanese market is that it is difficult to bring all of the technology that Ichijo uses in Japan because of the difference in regulations. Also, the market and the preference of customers vary in these two countries. For instance, 80 to 90 percent of new construction homes in Japan have applied solar panels to save utility costs but only around 50percent of houses in the U.S. were built with solar panels because it tends to be expensive compared to paying utility costs without the panels in the U.S.
Mr. Ohno went on to say that most people say they want to live in a green home built using environmentally friendly or non-toxic materials, but few people are willing to spend the money on them. Therefore, they have tried to reduce the cost of building green. In fact, they have factories in the Philippines and produce cabinets, windows, doors, and heating panels with the high quality of technique, that help keep costs competitive.
Mr. Ohno believes that it does not mean anything if you build a house without considering the environmental impact. If you build 1000 houses in a town, all of them in the whole town should be built green and if possible be zero energy (which means the house produces 100% of the energy it consumes). The zHome development in Issaquah will serve as a good model of what is possible for zero energy homes in the U.S.
In conclusion, Ichijo USA will have great influence on the future of green home development and zero energy living and in Greater Seattle area with an eye on growth in other regions around Washington.
Ichijo USA Website: http://ichijousa.com/
zHome – A Zero Net Energy Community: http://www.ecobuilding.org/green-building/project-spotlights/zhome-a-zero-net-energy-community (Northwest Eco Building Guild)