(Mitsui Fudosan Co. Ltd.)

Kashiwa-no-ha Smart City, Kashiwa City, Chiba Prefecture, Japan 
Developer: Mitsui Fudosan Co. Ltd.
Master planner and coordinator: Urban Design Center Kashiwa-no-ha (UDCK)
Designers: ZGF, Nikken Sekkei Ltd., Jun Mitsui & Associates Architects
Landscape architects: Studio on Site
Site size: 675 acres (273 ha)  

Located 18 miles (29 km) north of Tokyo, the transit-oriented development Kashiwa-no-ha Smart City pioneers an urban planning approach for a resilient neighborhood with an active and vital community. Since 2004, it has been refined to include community aspirations, respond to disasters, and support environmental and social initiatives. In 2016, Kashiwa-no-ha Smart City became the largest LEED Neighborhood Development Plan Platinum–certified smart city in the world. 

Mitsui Fudosan, one of Asia’s largest developers, engaged advisers and urban planners to improve Kashiwa-no-ha using smart-city placemaking techniques. Conceiving the project as a mixed-use employment district, the ZGF-led vision plan is organized around new concepts for open space, with costs and benefits shared by businesses and residential communities and the aim of attracting new development supporting residents and workers in nearby hospital and biomedical research facilities. 

Large-scale sustainable living is reinforced through a centralized energy management system; energy conservation, generation, and storage; local production of food; and low-carbon urban transportation. Active and vital streets connect and energize the updated civic realm; living and working in the same neighborhood supports efficient use of resources, builds social cohesion, and improves livability. This synergy is demonstrated by the transformation of an inaccessible stormwater detention facility into a civic commons—a biophilic and sustainable community amenity. 

Kashiwa-no-ha is environmentally and technologically innovative—an especially acute interest after 2011’s Tohoku earthquake and Fukushima Power Plant disaster. Community behavior is a supporting strategy: for example, the area energy management system monitors demand through an app informing people in high-use areas how to reduce consumption, while monitors broadcast building performance information. The Smart City is a mix of building uses connected through a district energy and power distribution system to share heat loads and reduce peak electricity use, allowing occupants to live off the grid until regional power and water can be restored.