The First Step in the Optex Low Carbon Society Initiative
Optex has been actively contributing to realizing a low carbon society by reducing CO2 over the long term. One example is carrying out environmental assessments to ensure all of the new products we develop offer value in terms of efficiency and compliance with relevant laws and regulations, and another is being proactive in reducing CO2 in all our business activities (life cycle). We have set the medium-term goal of “A 1.25 increase in the [Environmental efficiency (Sales/Lifecycle CO2): 2015] by 2018” through these efforts.
The environmental assessments revealed that about 90% of our new products had improved performance compared to the older models. As a result, we were able to achieve the medium-term goal one year earlier than planned.
Transitioning from Directly Reducing CO2 Emissions to a Contribution Level Assessment
“Actually, there is only so much we can do when it comes to reducing CO2 in our business activities; eventually, we’ll reach a limit. The requirements and regulations are also expanding, and so I think a low carbon society initiative centered only on environmental efficiency will become even more difficult to realize from here on.” Atsushi Maekawa, Manager of Quality Control Division
This awareness led us to the Contribution Level Assessment, which derives the level of a company’s contribution to the reduction of CO2 through its products and services. This approach can be expanded beyond what we do within Optex, to also include how we contribute to realizing a low carbon society through our business activities. As it is also linked to providing customers with value, there are no “wringing the rag dry” type of limits here.
Using Sensors to Resolve Issues in Realizing a Low Carbon Society
“We have found a way our products can be used in the Contribution Level Assessment in the features of Optex sensors. One of the main features of sensors is that when installed into a system, they will enhance its capabilities and efficiency while also suppressing the load on the system overall. Also in many cases, sensors are used to help reduce CO2.”
If you consider those points, then Optex has been, and is even now, quite involved in creating a low carbon society through our sensors. We can say this because the three sensors below are notable for helping to build a low carbon society, and in doing so creating optimal solutions.
1) Originally an Eco-friendly Sensor
One of the features of sensors is low power consumption. The Optex security sensor, which is a core product, has a current consumption in the microampere range (㎂).
This means we also have sensors that can run only on batteries, without needing to rely on an external power source. Currently, around 60% of our mainstay outdoor security sensors are battery-type sensors.
2) Sensors Can Be in Standby Mode
Sensors really become powerful once they are installed into a system. For example, replacing an incandescent light bulb with an LED one will roughly halve the power consumption. However, when you install sensors and build a system in which the lights come on only when needed, the power consumption can be contained to one tenth. This is how sensors can be used to create a standby mode for lighting and other equipment, so that they consume hardly any power when not in use.
The EU has adopted the Energy-using Products (EuP) Directive, which are eco-friendly design guidelines for energy-related products. The EuP Directive stipulates that these products must have a standby mode, and the power consumption while in standby mode has to be under 1W.
We believe that many of the Optex sensor products also meet these requirements.
3) Facilitating Progress in Key Points of Energy Consumption
The Zero Energy Building (ZEB) movement, which aims to curtail energy consumption in buildings and other structures, is also quite active in the EU. It includes rating a building according to its energy efficiency, which will affect factors such as the building’s sale and rental price. Similar initiatives already exist in Japan; the Japanese government has set policy goals in this area in the Basic Energy Plan, which was passed in the Diet in April 2014.
Optex can contribute to making buildings more energy efficient in a variety of ways, from sensors to control lighting, battery-free switches and other products, to facilitating the spread of remote control, automation and IoT.
Air conditioning accounts for more than 60% of a building’s energy consumption. It is said that a large portion of this energy loss is actually the needless opening and closing of doors (referred to as unnecessary opening).
The e-Smooth Sensor is an automatic door sensor that controls unnecessary opening, as a countermeasure for this type of energy loss. It determines the direction in which people are walking, and controls the opening and closing of automatic doors accordingly. This can significantly improve the efficiency of air conditioning in buildings, and reduce CO2 emissions.
The Optex e-Smooth Sensor, which is an automatic door sensor that controls unnecessary opening, was selected as one of the first certified products of the “Shiga Low Carbon Brand*”. This was a wonderful achievement for us.
What is the Shiga Low Carbon Brand?
Shiga prefecture is moving forward with its efforts to create a sustainable low carbon society that is in harmony with economic and social development, and the reduction of greenhouses gases that cause global warming. The Shiga Low Carbon Brand is a certified system that was launched in 2018 as a part of realizing this sustainable low carbon society.
The Shiga Low Carbon Brand conducts assessments and certifications in accordance with the quantitative Contribution Level Assessment, to evaluate the level of CO2 reductions of superior energy-saving products and services that help to reduce greenhouse gases.
※ The Shiga Low Carbon Brand operates in accordance with the Contribution Level Assessment.
Contribution Multiplication Factor in Accordance with the Contribution Level Assessment
Below are the results of evaluating the degree of contributing to CO2 reductions at places using Optex sensors, which have been calculated in accordance with the Contribution Level Assessment.
In 2017, the Contribution Multiplication Factor was about 3 times, and we are aiming to increase this to 4 times or higher by 2021.
Contributing to Society in Various Ways Through Sensors
Optex sensors can not only facilitate the creation of a low carbon society; they also have the potential to contribute to society in even broader ways, including many of the issues raised in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
For instance, Optex water quality sensors can contribute to SDG 3 of Good health and well-being, and SDG 6 of Clean water and sanitation, while our security sensors and automatic door sensors can help with achieving SDG 11 of Sustainable cities and communities.
Moreover, Optex products that facilitate remote control, automation, IoT, battery use and battery free and other ways to conserve energy and improve efficiency can also achieve SDG 9 of Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure while keeping in mind SDG 8 of Decent work and economic growth.
Our contributions extend beyond just production; the previously mentioned activities focused on contribution levels can also be linked to SDG 12 of Responsible production and consumption.
The SDGs are one way Optex can continue making a positive difference in society in a multitude of aspects.
Optex will apply the sensing technologies that are our strength to help resolve issues in society and realize a sustainable world, and continue to work with our customers as we develop our business and aim for growth on a global scale.
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