Basic Policy

In recent years, there has been an increase in large-scale natural disasters, such as earthquakes, tsunamis and typhoons, causing significant economic damage and threatening our society and lifestyles.

By providing safe and reliable housing, Sumitomo Forestry wants to contribute to protecting people’s lives and lifestyles.

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Building Internal Systems to Adapt to Climate Change

Establishment of Disaster Prevention Department

Disaster Recovery Guidelines were put in place in the Housing and Construction Division and measures and action guidelines for operations were defined to quickly and accurately respond to damages from natural disasters to our customers' houses as they become more prevalent due to climate change. As one measure, we established a new Disaster Prevention Department in April 2020 to guide disaster prevention measures that prepare for emergencies during ordinary times while taking the lead of each division and affiliated company in an emergency in order to minimize damage as much as possible.

During the first fiscal year of these activities, this department surveyed the damage in Kumamoto Prefecture caused by torrential rain in July 2020 and supported an initial response for customers in areas afflicted by the disaster. Sumitomo Forestry also revised its existing disaster recovery stockpile to put in place more effective means for the growing necessity of an emergency response in disaster areas.

Developing Disaster Recovery Support Services Using IoT

Addressing the Issue of the Time It Takes to Assess Disaster

Japan has many earthquakes, but in recent years, climate change has made natural disasters more serious with concentrated downpours, typhoons and other natural disasters causing extensive and frequent damage. In monetary terms, the total cost of damage caused by natural disasters in Japan from 1991 to 2018 reached 446.63 billion dollars*.

Of course, the bigger the disaster, the longer the recovery efforts, and it now takes more time to assess the situation as well. For the Kumamoto earthquake that occurred in April 2016, it took about one and a half months for the government to conduct emergency safety checks of buildings aimed to prevent secondary disasters. Disaster victims expressed their anxieties, saying, “It takes too much time to get the information we need,” highlighting one of the biggest hurdles in speedy recovery efforts.

* Created by The Small and Medium Enterprise Agency using the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters database (EM-DAT)

Quickly Gathering Data About Damaged Homes Using Sensing Technologies

Sumitomo Forestry is responding to such issues by developing services that promote quick recovery after disasters. Since 2017, we have been conducting trials of IoT services that utilize our analysis technologies. Specifically, we are conducting trial experiments using sensors to measure, gather and analyze data of buildings to determine their condition. We place several sensors throughout a house to acquire data, such as the magnitude of an earthquake’s tremors, flooding or other conditions, and gather this data through a network to analyze. At our Tsukuba Research Institute, we combine this data with the vast amount of data about earthquake resistance of wooden houses to facilitate high-precision analysis.

We have expanded the proof of concept that began in the Kanto region to nationwide 60 sites as of December 2020. We plan to broaden this even further during fiscal 2021. In addition to further heightening the decision accuracy for service provision, we aim to engage in initiatives to ready infrastructure to ensure comprehensive collection and processing of enormous amounts of data while working hard toward actual implementation to ensure customer peace of mind and safety in the event of a disaster.

A sensor installed inside a wall of a house

A sensor installed inside a wall of a house

Overview of How Data Is Gathered

Supporting the Speedy Recovery of Customers and Regions Affected by Disasters

If sensors installed in homes can be used remotely to determine the level of damage, we will be able to more quickly grasp, report and respond to the situation and arrange for repairs or other work to provide our customers the support they need. As engineers would no longer have to check each and every house, it would resolve the problem of taking too much time and can even be used for areas made inaccessible after a major disaster.

In addition, by utilizing this gathered data in different ways, we can develop new services that would give more people a sense of security. For example, we could collaborate with casualty insurance companies to provide quick damage assessments necessary for insurance benefits, which would help people rebuild their lives more quickly.

In addition, we could provide data to customers and local governments for emergency risk assessments that would help prevent secondary disasters. Furthermore, our data analysis results could promote development of technologies that enhance earthquake resistance and durability.

One example of how gathered data can be utilized

One example of how gathered data can be utilized

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Housing Sales Adapted to Climate Change

Sumitomo Forestry Homes – Resistant to Earthquakes, Fires and Typhoons

Sumitomo Forestry’s wooden homes utilize a unique Big Frame (BF) construction method as one of its distinct characteristics. This method uses posts that are approximately five times thicker than standard posts as the primary structural material. These posts are then secured with strong metal for high resistance to external forces such as earthquakes. Using a three-story actual-sized model home, we conducted tests to confirm that our houses can withstand the shaking and repeated aftershocks of an earthquake on the scale of the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. In addition, our houses have adopted the Ministerial Ordinance on Semi-Fireproof Houses as a standard specification, which in terms of fire insurance, make them equivalent to reinforced concrete construction (RC construction) and steel frame construction buildings. In addition, our houses can withstand winds of 88m/second, much higher than Typhoon Faxai (highest wind speed: 57.5m/second) that hit the Tokyo metropolitan area in 2019.

Housing Using the BF Construction Method

The BF construction method that boasts structural strength only offered by Sumitomo Forestry ensures the safety of buildings and provides functionality for an uninterrupted lifestyle until recovery even when lifelines are cut thanks to equipment such as enhanced storage space, solar power generation systems, wall-mounted electrical boards and water tanks. A video intercom with a network camera allows the interior to be clearly seen with a wireless camera as well as gives owners the ability to check the state of their house in a disaster even while out-and-about. The large storage space helps keep rooms clean in daily life while the original built-in furniture prevents toppling in an earthquake and can achieve a space in harmony with the interior.

Housing Using the BF Construction Method Stands Up to Disasters and Enhances Daily Comfort

Housing Using the BF Construction Method Stands Up to Disasters and Enhances Daily Comfort

The Thinking Behind Taking Evacuation life at Home

Many people who come through a large-scale disaster often find themselves falling ill due to the stress of living in an evacuation shelter even if they survive the disaster. And sometimes it takes days before utilities such as electricity and running water are restored.

What is important during times like these is the thinking behind “taking evacuation life at home.”

Sumitomo Forestry’s ZEH houses are not only earthquake and fire resistant, but they have high insulation properties, as well. In addition, electricity produced with solar power generation systems can be stored in energy storage systems, which combined with Enefarm household fuel cells, can supply power for up to eight consecutive days, enabling the use of hot water and floor heating. Because hot water stored with Enefarm can be used for daily needs, occupants can safely and securely take evacuation life at home even when various essential utilities are disrupted.

With high insulation properties and energy-saving housing equipment, these ZEH properties not only help in the event of a disaster but also offer occupants a comfortable lifestyle they can enjoy while reducing their energy consumption. In addition, Sumitomo Forestry ZEH houses, which use high-insulation wood, can protect the health of the people who live in them, such as preventing violent fluctuations in blood pressure due to sudden changes in room temperatures when bathing or getting out of bed in the winter.

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Sustainability Report