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Susumu Horikawa from Nikken Sekkei shares global perspectives on green building innovations

Susumu Horikawa, Executive Officer and Principal with the M&E Engineering Division of our alliance partner Nikken Sekkei, recently visited our Melbourne studio to share his expertise on the latest innovations in sustainability in Japan. Susumu-san has been involved in many award winning sustainability projects and strives for the unification of environmental building service design and architectural programs to excel in building performance.

In honour of World Green Building Week, we caught up with him to get his insights into sustainability in the built environment.

1. What is Nikken Sekkei’s philosophy on sustainability?

First of all, we try to get to know our clients’ thought processes well. With our tag line “EXPERIENCE, INTEGRATED” at the forefront, we make an effort to provide our clients with new value by integrating architecture, structure and MEP technologies. 

In addition, we often apply Japanese traditional techniques such as “Sudare” (a shading device), “Engawa” (porches with eaves) and “Uchimizu” (a water sprinkling system) to new projects.

2. What sustainable innovations are currently occurring globally? What is the focus on now?

New technologies such as radiant cooling systems, TABS and lighting environment design based on perceived brightness tend to be applied to our new projects. Thermal Active Building Systems (TABS) is an air-conditioning system for which heat capacity is utilized. The lighting system we employ provides optimal brightness for occupants, with consideration for not only the amount of light falling on a surface (illuminance) but also the amount of light entering the eye (luminance).

We also regard IoT as innovative because we believe it not only contributes to effective control of building facilities, but also management of occupants, which raises productivity.

3. What sustainability trends do you foresee in the future?

As many people are interested in WELL Building Standards, we believe that careful attention to an occupant’s health, as well as energy savings, are becoming more important.

4. What are some sustainable initiatives you have implemented within Nikken projects?

The initiatives I mentioned previously such as radiation cooling systems and lighting environment design are embodied in our projects including the YKK80 Building (the headquarters of YKK Corporation) and Daikin TIC (the R&D Center of Daikin Industries Ltd.).  Both projects received ASHRAE Technology Awards as well as LEED Platinum certification.

TABS is adopted in Shogakukan HQ, a famous Japanese publishing company, which is recognised as the next generation sustainable building.  

5. What steps can clients/landlords/developers take to add value or future proof their assets?

Clients, landlords and developers tend to rate buildings which can enhance an occupant’s health and productivity highly. I therefore believe they will focus on achieving certification for LEED and the WELL Building Standard to ensure people understand how attractive such buildings are.