The recent amendments to Japan’s Building Standard Law

The recent amendments to Japan’s Building Standard Law, specifically the Act on the Improvement of Energy Consumption Performance of Buildings (Building Energy Efficiency Act), are primarily focused on enhancing energy efficiency and integrating renewable energy into building standards. Key aspects of these amendments include:

  1. Enhanced Energy Efficiency Standards: The amendments emphasize the importance of energy efficiency in buildings, which is a crucial part of Japan’s strategy to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and a 46% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 2013 levels.
  2. Application to Various Building Types: The updated law removes limitations on the types of buildings subject to the standard conformity obligation. Now, regardless of the building’s floor area or whether it is residential or non-residential, the building owner must ensure it meets the Building Energy Efficiency Standards.
  3. Building Energy Efficiency Standards: These standards, defined by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, include requirements for thermal insulation performance, sunlight shielding performance, and energy consumption.
  4. Compliance and Penalties: Building owners who fail to comply with these standards may be ordered to take corrective measures within a set period. Non-compliance can result in fines, and penalties can extend to companies associated with non-compliant individuals.
  5. Local Ordinances for Renewable Energy: In addition to the national law, local governments like Tokyo Metropolitan Government and Kyoto Prefecture have amended their ordinances to require the installation of photovoltaic panels on certain buildings, effective from April 2025.

These changes reflect a significant shift in Japan’s approach to building regulations, integrating aspects of sustainability and renewable energy into the existing focus on safety and structural integrity.