Institute of Environmentology, Research and Education for Sustainability or Sustainable Development, Kazutoshi Fujihira

Progress of Our Research

Institute of Environmentology >> Progress of Our Research

The Institute of Environmentology has been tackling the tasks of environment and sustainability with essential and creative approaches ever since it started in 1997.

Start with a fundamental question: what is a human?

In 1999, Kazutoshi Fujihira, the head of the Institute of Environmentology, published his first book with the title of An Introduction to Environmentology. The first chapter of this book tackled an extremely fundamental question: what is a human? This question is originated from the following simple awareness of the issues: "If humans did not exist, environmental problems would never occur. Then what is the most essential distinction between humans and the other animals?" An Introduction to Environmentology has redefined humans by synthesizing current scientific knowledge. The definition is "humans are animals that can influence the environment with a sense of purpose." In this context, the word environment is recognized as a concept including both the natural environment and the social environment.

A new purpose forced to set by an accelerating increase in human activities

In addition, An Introduction to Environmentology has dynamically described the history of human activities. There have been three factors which increase human activities : (1) the development of tools and technology with which humans influence the natural environment, (2) the progress in information transmission methods with which humans influence their social environment, (3) an increase in population, that is, the number of humans influencing the environment. Moreover, in the human history, each factor stimulated others and promoted changes in other factors. As a result of these synergistic effects, human activities increased at an accelerated pace. Especially in the 20th century, human activities increased explosively. Accordingly, humans have had to not only recognize the finiteness of global environment and natural resources but also face social problems such as an increase in the disparity between rich and poor.

At last, such serious issues have rapidly forced humans to reconsider their conventional unbridled activities. That is to say, as described in the last chapter of An Introduction to Environmentology, "controlling human activities appropriately on this finite earth" has become our ultimate purpose. Furthermore, in this context the word "appropriately" is equivalent to "sustainably."

Applying control science to the task of sustainable development

Confronted with the task of "controlling human activities sustainably," the Institute of Environmentology conceived an innovative idea. The idea is to apply a science which studies 'control.' Control science can be applied to all goal-oriented tasks. In fact, control science is applied to a variety of fields such as engineering, economics, agriculture, and medicine; especially control engineering has a long history and has produced remarkable results. Accordingly, it is a rational and reliable approach to apply control science to the task of achieving sustainable development.

In order to tackle tasks by applying control science, first of all, we have shown the basic control system for sustainable development. In addition, in an attempt to clarify the essence of sustainable development, which is equivalent to the purpose of control, we have also demonstrated the model of sustainable development.

ESD and environmental education research

The next subject that we pursued was to apply control science to "education for sustainable development (ESD)." In addition, environmental education, which is intended to solve or prevent environmental problems, occupies an important position in ESD.

In order to control human activities, "changes in people's behaviors" are necessary. People need to have sufficient capacity and motivation to change their behaviors. Accordingly, we consider that ESD plays the role of changing their behaviors toward sustainable development. Based on this concept, we have provided an educational methodology for sustainable development.

The Institute of Environmentology is also committed to education practice, on the basis of the educational methodology for sustainable development. We especially concentrate on energy environmental education practice which is aimed at environmental preservation and sustainable use of energy resources. We have created original educational programs and conducted a large number of education practices. The results of the practices have clearly shown the effectiveness of our programs and moreover that educational methodology.

Research on designing control systems

Control systems require designing and implementing 'control measures,' or measures for achieving the control objective. A series of the procedure in which control measures are designed and implemented is called the "design of a control system." Since 2008, the Institute of Environmentology has been conducting the research on the design of practical control systems for sustainable development based on the basic control system for sustainable development.

We have devised a "two-step method for smooth control system design" as an important step of the research on designing practical control systems. In the first step, system designers "determine the relationship between the standard human activities and sustainable development." In the second step, they conduct "sustainability checkup on human activities as an object."

Sustainable Housing Research

Applying the “basic control system for sustainable development” and “two-step method for smooth control system design,” the Institute of Environmentology has been studying a methodology for promoting sustainable design. In particular, it has been advancing research on sustainable housing design, targeting homes as objects. It has produced the control system for promoting sustainable home design with the sustainable design guidelines and sustainability checklist. This control system enables system users to efficiently and effectively take sustainable design into both new and existing homes.

Inagi Ecohouse is a detached house designed by following the control system for promoting sustainable home design. This house has embodied various higher sustainability qualities, including superior energy-saving efficiency and energy self-sufficiency.

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