Efforts to tap wood biomass around the world are increasing to reduce the proportion of energy derived from fossil fuels and foster cyclical and efficient resource usage. Even in Japan, there is a significant need to maintain forests by thinning to prevent natural disasters and damage to villages, stimulating local economies in the process. Nonetheless, a lot of wood is not thinned because of the costs of such activities and the expenses in disposing of unwanted timber, impeding forest conservation efforts.
In December 2016, the RICOH Eco Business Development Center in Gotemba, Shizuoka Prefecture, adopted a local production and consumption model for wood biomass. A public facilities management firm of the Gotemba municipal government purchases and processes thinned timber that a forestry business procures nearby into woodchips. The center buys the woodchips to fuel its biomass boiler, which supplies its air conditioning and hot water. The center looks to cut its annual carbon dioxide emissions by around 237 metric tons through this setup. This local collaborative model has proven beneficial by fostering forest conservation and lowering center emissions. The municipal government has designated our initiative as one of its Eco Garden City projects. Ricoh aims to package this wood biomass consumption model for use throughout Gotemba and elsewhere around Japan.