Cool Biz


In Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, Sebastian Moffett reports from Tokyo about Cool Biz. He says that Japan’s major banks are getting serious about the program and are implementing more casual business attire in an effort to reduce Japan’s greenhouse emissions and reduce energy usage. The Japanese government estimates that if all offices raised their air conditioning temperatures to “82 from 79.2 degrees between June and the end of September,” Japan would reduce its carbon-dioxide emissions by up to 2.9 million tons, the amount that “six million households” use in a month. Japanese are already among the most efficient consumers of energy in the developed world, and the government through the now few-years-old Cool Biz campaign, hopes to improve on that.Here at work, we also follow Cool Biz and during the summer, we are allowed to come to work without jackets and ties, and even short-sleeve button-down shirts. Communities are adjusting and using age-old technique of splashing water on the ground to cool it.

I quote at length, “…local governments have organized water-splashing ceremonies, which in one case reduced surrounding temperatures by 5 degrees and the ground temperature by 22 degrees. The city of Hiroshima provided four tons of recycled sewage water for such use.

In Shizuoka, in central Japan, a local government-linked group has set up a hotline for whistleblowers to report suspected instances of overcooling. Last year it got 103 calls from people complaining that trains, department stores and other places had cranked up the air conditioning too far. The group, called the Shizuoka Center for Climate Change Actions, doesn’t have any coercive power. But it says many have turned up the temperature anyway after being informed of their offense.”


Koizumi launching the Cool Biz campaign in ’06.

The program was first proposed in 2005 under Koizumi, and began in the summer of 2006. At the time, it was a somewhat controversial idea. Some members of the Parliament and businessmen felt that it was undignified to show up for work without a tie and jacket, but the Koizumi’s tie-less, jacket-less interviews for TV helped to popularize the idea.

That same year, there was supposedly also a Warm Biz idea proposed that would have workers wearing thick turtlenecks during winter. The idea failed to go anywhere though. That didn’t stop Triumph International, a bra company from designing this “warm biz” bra which sported warm, fuzzy materials and detachable microwaveable pads for those extra-cold days:

The idea of rationally deciding, society-wide, clothing and fashion based on its environmental impact is a first. It reflects a growing trend of societies looking at the impact of all our decisions on the earth, and it’s a healthy trend. People seem willing, at least in Japan, to reform our society top-to-bottom if it will positively affect the earth. And that’s a good thing.


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