Japanese ceramic company Kyocera has found a unique way of reducing its air conditioning usage. It is draping the exterior walls and windows of its factories with vegetables and plants. Attached by trellises, they shade the factories and block direct sunlight through the windows during the hot summer months.
First appearing in 2007 at the company’s Okava Plant, the green curtains have become the keystone of Kyocera’s environmental conservation program and have since been adopted at 12 of its factories. In fact, two of Kyocera’s factories no longer have to use air-conditioning in the offices at all during the morning hours due to the living curtains.
But it’s not all about reducing energy bills. Covering the walls with green foliage creates a more relaxing atmosphere for the workers, many of whom have created similar green curtains at their own homes.
The employees also harvest the green curtain vegetables, which are then used in special summer recipes prepared in the company’s cafeterias. One of the vegetables, goya (bitter gourd) is rich in nutrients and widely used in Japanese food to help fight fatigue in the hot summer months.