PHOTOS: World's Most Efficient Office

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Sanyo’s massive manufacturing facility in a rural area just outside of Osaka, Japan serves as a massive testing facility for energy-saving technology that could soon pop up in the U.S. The Kasai Plant’s Green Energy Park houses a 1 MW “Mega Solar System” and a 1.5 MWh lithium-ion mega battery system that holds the world’s largest level of charging capacity. (We were amazed, too.)

Sanyo Energy Park, solar power, solar panel, Japan, Kasai Park

Solalib structure and solar battery charging station at Kasai Green Energy Park in Japan. Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911

In front of the office park and manufacturing plant stands a massive solar structure called the Solalib. It helps supply power to both the building and car and bike charging stations. Notice its shape, designed to represent a tree and the sun.

Sanyo Energy Park, solar power, solar panel, Japan, Kasai Park

Bi-facial solar panels on the Solalib. Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911

The Solalib is outfitted with HIT Double bi-facial solar panels (notice that they’re see-through). The back face of a HIT Double panel generates electricity from ambient light reflected off surrounding surfaces and combines with power from the front face of the panel, resulting in up to 30 percent higher power generation per square foot.

Sanyo Energy Park, solar power, solar panel, Japan, Kasai Park

Bi-facial solar panels on the front of the office building. Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911

The office has a brain of its own. Housed in here is a battery system with 250,000 cells that function as one single battery. The building also detects human entrance and exit in order to control heating and air conditioning.

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Solar-powered electric bike charging stations at the Kasai Green Energy Park. Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911

Electric bikes are popular in Japan and are catching on here in the U.S. Adjacent to the Sanyo facility is a charging station that can accommodate and provide power for up to 100 hybrid bikes, a feature of which many employees take full advantage.

Sanyo Energy Park, solar power, solar panel, Japan, Kasai Park

Electric bike battery chargers fit into lockers. Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911

After parking their bikes at the solar station, employees remove the battery and insert them into charging stations stored in lockers.

Sanyo Energy Park, solar power, solar panel, Japan, Kasai Park, electric bike

Current energy output from solar charging. Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911

Even on a cloudy day, there is enough energy to charge the average electric bike. Employees and visitors can read the current energy output supplied by just the sun. The solar parking lot has enough capacity to power 200 laptop PCs for 8 hours each.

Sanyo Energy Park, solar power, solar panel, Japan, Kasai Park, charging phone, solar charger

Tabletop solar battery charger inside the office building. Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911

In the lobby of the Sanyo office sit these small tables with built-in solar panel. These tables store up energy and can be used to charge any electronic device while you’re reading the paper or taking a quick coffee break.

Sanyo Energy Park, solar power, solar panel, Japan, Kasai Park, battery charger, solar charger, cell phone

Solar table charges cell phones and other devices. Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911

There are no plugs on this solar table. Simply sit your cell phone on the table, and a small blue light will illuminate, signaling that your cell phone is successfully charging.

Japan, Sanyo, Energy Park, Kasai

Monitors in the lobby show real-time energy savings. Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911

Employee participation and awareness is important at Sanyo. In the lobby of the main building, a wall of TV screens display how much energy the entire facility is currently saving. According to Fumitoshi Terashima, general manager of Smart Energy Systems for Sanyo, although the Energy Park was a hefty upfront investment, it will save approximately 2,480 tons of CO2 emissions annually.

More from Earth911 in Japan…
PHOTOS: Japan’s Most Efficient Home

Editor’s Note: The Panasonic Corporation covered the travel expenses for this reporter.

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