Declaration for Symbiotic Housing

Environmentally Symbiotic Housing Promotion Council
November 21,1997


Environmentally Symbiotic Housing Promotion Council is composed of various private corporations, agencies, and municipalities related to housing and local development in Japan. The common purpose of our work in these fields is to deal holistically with the various environmental problems worldwide, in our regions, and in our homes, in order to build a sustainable society for future generations.
The members of the Council have agreed to declare the following eight goals shaped by this purpose and to express the Council's determination to continually promote our activities in order to achieve them.

For the protection of the global environment:

1. We promote low energy consumption throughout the lifecycle of housing and local developments, and we encourage the use of natural and other alternative energy sources to help prevent global warming. (Saving energy)

2. We promote the reuse and recycling of resources throughout the lifecycle of housing and local developments, and the minimization of wastes. (Efficient use of resources & reduction of wastes)

For the creation of a harmonious local environment:

3. We promote the investigation of the climate, geography, ecological system, and culture of each site and of its local environment, for the development of housing and neighborhoods that are regionally appropriate and beautiful. (Harmony with the local environment)

4. We will carefully plan the relationships between indoor spaces and outdoor spaces according to the condition of the site and its surroundings in order to make the most of the benefits of nature. (Enjoying the benefits of nature)

For the safety, health and comfort of living environments:

5. We promote housing and local development that ensure basic safety, health, and comfort according to the attributes of each site, and that are planned with consideration of the characteristics of individual residents. (Safety, health, and comfort at home)

6. In the case of collective housing, we promote the formation of cooperative communities of residents and neighbors, as well as the provision of amenable individual homes. (Supporting a cooperative community)

For the domestic and international promotion of these aims:

7. We will foster an understanding of Symbiotic Housing objectives, methods, and lifestyles among housing manufacturers, suppliers, designers, craftsmen, and residents throughout Japan, and promote the disclosure of relevant information. (Disclosure of information)

8. While developing housing complex model projects throughout Japan, we will promote the exchange of information and know-how both domestically and internationally. (Exchange of information and know-how)


1) Scrap and Build Housing

In recent years, the Japanese building industry has maintained a construction level of approximately 1,600,000 homes per year. These homes have an average lifespan of 25 to 30 years, a much shorter period of usage compared to European or American standards. In other words, the industry's massive output is largely dependent upon what has been called the "scrap and build" method.

2)Housing and Global Environmental Issues

While this rapid rate of housing production has been an indispensable force for growth of the postwar Japanese economy, it has been a source of grave problems as well. The large amounts of energy and resources consumed during the construction, use, and disposal of housing result in the overflow of wastes, the production of carbon dioxide and other pollutants that cause global warming, and other environmental problems that are impossible to overlook. Clearly, these problems are not just local issues, especially considering Japan's relationship with the foreign countries from which it imports most of its energy and resources. It is imperative that these issues are dealt with on a global level.

3)Problems of Housing Quality

It is true that postwar Japanese housing production developed rapidly in terms of both quality and quantity. However, examining such issues as the size of a housing unit, the appropriateness of its construction techniques and durability according to region and residents, the health and comfort of its interior and exterior and the cost of related measures, as well as the overview of the residential and natural landscapes, brings to light the many issues still to be tackled. While the construction of new housing units is predicted to gradually decrease in the long term, the promotion of better-quality housing that addresses such issues will also create new demand within the domestic housing market.

4)Towards Sustainable Housing and a Sustainable Society

It is the responsibility of the respective company and agency involved in housing production and distribution, as well as of each resident, to be aware of the environmental problems confronting housing and local development. The issues of resources, energy, wastes, and the basic, all-inclusive theme of "quality", whether of private houses or of communal housing, are, together with the reform movement in construction, urgent topics in the realization of "Environmental Symbiosis" and "sustainable growth" within a "cycle-based society."

5)the Symbiotic Housing movement

In 1990,having foreseen such a state of affairs, a group of public and private-sector professionals joined forces under the banner of "Environmentally Symbiotic Housing", first functioning as a research body then as an organization for Symbiotic Housing promotion and realization. For six years the organization studied technologies and organizational systems from a wide variety of approaches to help address problems in housing and in local development. A national subsidiary scheme set up during this period aided in carrying out over forty projects around Japan. These are primarily projects by public corporations and municipalities, with the completed works playing an important part in furthering the understanding and use of Symbiotic Housing.

6)Moving Towards Housing and Local Development in the 21st Century

The Council for the Promotion of Environmentally Symbiotic Housing was formed in order to continue this movement, successfully uniting member groups of diverse business types and categories, design methods, construction techniques, markets, and marketing methods. Whether involved in the planning, design, production, construction, marketing, or maintenance of housing and local development, member groups share a common goal - to investigate, propose, create, and verify Environmentally Symbiotic Housing in terms of methods, systems, and attitudes. The Council was founded to further this common goal, and to provide a forum for cooperation and the exchange of information.

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