Current Institutional Affiliation
Professor, Department of Architecture, University of California / Berkeley

Dana Buntrock is the Chair of the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Japanese Studies and a Professor in the university’s Department of Architecture. The author of three books and dozens of articles in professional and academic journals, Buntrock’s work has been translated into Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Spanish. She has conducted fieldwork in Japan, the US, Taiwan, and Korea, supported by fellowships from the US National Science Foundation, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars, and the Social Science Research Council. Since 2011, Prof. Buntrock has focused on how energy supply and architecture create opportunities for new approaches to architecture in Japan. She has spoken on energy policy and building science to numerous universities and private organizations. She is currently working on a book provisionally titled “Untapped Social and Economic Opportunities in Japanese Architecture.”  

Award Information

Abe Fellowship 2013
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Professor, Architecture, University of California / Berkeley
Energy and Architectural Innovation

With limited domestic energy, Japan has long been committed to technologies that produce and conserve energy. It pioneered solar hot water systems and was a leader in household photovoltaic power, establishing new markets for Japanese manufacturers. Support has shifted to next-generation solutions to sustainability; subsidies and public policy encourage rapid deployment into the market to demonstrate the value of new technologies. Solar electrical generation capacity in Japan is about 6.8 GW—and 85% of installations are on residential buildings, a hard-to-reach sector. In the US only about 16% of solar installations are on housing; the proportion is even lower in most countries. Almost 25,000 "Ene-farm" home gas-to-electricity generators were sold in 2012: Sekisui House alone placed fuel cells in 5,356 residences in 2011—40% of the year's sales. Fuel cells are seldom seen in other nations; as this example shows, responding to subsidies, Japan's industry leaders aggressively put innovations in place. Even though Japan's energy use in buildings remains low in comparison to that of most nations, buildings became the largest end user of energy in 1999, surpassing industry and transportation. With nuclear power idled after 3.11, Japan is facing record trade deficits, driven to a large extent by the costs of imported energy: 1.48 trillion yen ($19 billion) in 2012. However, recently proposed building codes requiring improved energy efficiency in all new construction are meeting stiff resistance from Japan's design professionals and builders. In the US and Europe, regulatory building codes were long the best tool for promoting energy savings, although even in the West, they are no longer easy to implement due to economic challenges and political polarization. Another recent alternative is seen in market-oriented private ratings systems such as LEED or CASBEE. CASBEE, developed in Japan, is generally regarded as a better tool for understanding actual energy use, but requires considerable time to establish expertise and thus faces strong resistance from both the architecture profession and the construction community. @@Japan's uniquely constrained energy supply and low self-sufficiency will require a response to 3.11 by the building design professions. I propose to study how government incentives, regulatory control, and ratings systems impact choices by architects, with close attention to the time and financial commitments architects, engineers and builders commit to learning and employing new approaches to energy use. Through interviews with government officials, academics and professionals in the building industry regarding energy demand in recent buildings and those under development, I will identify the cost-effectiveness of various approaches to reducing energy demand in a political setting where the primary tool for encouraging energy savings in buildings has long been incentive-based.@@@@Most interviews during the research period will occur in Japan; I intend to begin exploratory interviews in Taiwan and Korea as well. Like Japan, Korea has recently begun to question the scale of its reliance on nuclear power; Taiwan, with a more diverse power supply, but (like Japan) disinclined to use regulatory approaches to address energy demand, will present a setting where energy use is treated with less urgency.