As part of its environmental protection activities, the Kyocera Group is growing viney plants to form "Green Curtains," which are erected over trellises to shade portions of the windows and outer walls of manufacturing and office buildings at 20 locations in Japan, Thailand and Brazil. The curtains create a screen over the windows, preventing direct sunlight from raising the temperature of office interiors — thus reducing loads on energy-intensive air-conditioners — and through photosynthesis, the plants help preserve the environment by absorbing CO2. The company has also created a special Web site with do-it-yourself instructions to help encourage more people to take up the eco-friendly project at their own homes and businesses.
Kyocera's Green Curtain effort began at its Okaya Plant in Nagano Prefecture, Japan, in 2007 as part of its energy conservation / global warming prevention activities. The program has since been adopted at other Kyocera Group locations in Japan, and this year expanded to Thailand and Brazil.
A Green Curtain can block strong summer sunlight from shining directly through windows and heating interior spaces. This helps conserve energy by reducing the need for air-conditioning.
This year, Green Curtains grown at Kyocera Group locations stretch a total length of 725 meters (2,379 feet), covering a total area of 3,043 square meters (32,750 square feet) – an increase of roughly four times the area of last year. Throughout their annual growth cycle, these Green Curtains will absorb an estimated 10,651 kilograms of carbon dioxide (23,481 pounds of CO2),* or roughly the same amount as 761 cedar trees**.
The recently launched Green Curtain Web site provides an overview of the eco-friendly activity with photos and illustrations showing how to grow your own Green Curtains, complete with a list of materials and instructions for planting seeds and building trellises.
Tasty and Healthy Benefits of the Green Curtains
The goya (bitter gourd; a traditional summer vegetable of Okinawa), cucumbers and peas that form the Green Curtains are harvested by Kyocera employees and commonly served as part of a special lunch menu in employee cafeterias. Goya, which is rich in nutrients, is widely used as an ingredient for the prevention of fatigue in the hot summer months in Japan. Moreover, the employees have enjoyed watching the plants grow and harvesting the vegetables.
* CO2 absorption (3.5 kilograms) x Area of Green Curtain (square meters) = Volume of yearly CO2 absorption. (Source: Rural Culture Association Japan)
** One cedar tree absorbs 14 kilograms per year of CO2. (Source: Forestry Agency of Japan)
To see more photos of the Green Curtains, see:
Kyocera Corporation, the parent and global headquarters of the Kyocera Group, was founded in 1959 as a producer of fine ceramics (also known as "advanced ceramics"). By combining these engineered materials with metals and plastics, and integrating them with other technologies, Kyocera has become a leading supplier of solar power generating systems, telecommunications equipment, electronic components, printers, copiers, semiconductor packages, cutting tools and industrial ceramics. During the year ended March 31, 2010, the company's net sales totaled 1.07 trillion yen (approximately USD11.5 billion). The company is ranked No. 554 on Forbes magazine's 2010 Global 2000 listing of the world's largest publicly traded companies.
"Green Curtain" at Kyocera Group facility in Japan (Photo: Business Wire)