I am the developer of the heat exchange ventilation system "Seseragi" Christian Deutinger from Germany.
"Mr. Deutinger" is quite long (and difficult in Japanese), so please just call me "Doi".
I am currently working on producing and selling the ductless heat exchange system "Seseragi®" in Japan, where both clients and coworkers are Japanese.
You may be unfamiliar with the word "heat exchange system", but in my home country Germany, eco-friendly housing is a fast progressing theme, where such equipment is defined as a standard.
When you open the windows to get fresh air, a lot of the energy used by heating or air conditioning gets lost to the outside. However, when using a heat exchange system, you can ventilate while keeping the energy loss at a minimum.
I often get asked "Why did you come to Japan?" or "Why are you working in this field?" and for that reason, I would like to tell you the little secret story about the birth of the "Seseragi".
My father loves machines and was a car mechanic before I was born.
He didn't just love machines, but he also cared a lot for other people. For as long as I can remember, he fixed up our neighbours' washing machines without taking any money.
My father later on changed jobs and worked as a plane mechanic for the German Air Force, so when I was a kid and came to the air base to meet him, he let me sit in a cockpit.
I remember being really excited and shouting "I want to fly the plane!"
When I was 11, my father enlarged the house for our family.
We had already lived in the house since before I was born, but he added 3 additional rooms to it.
I have a sister 9 years younger and a brother 13 years younger, so in expectation of the family becoming bigger, my father enlarged the house.
In between work and on holidays, he built it together with some of his friends, 5 to 6 people total, in less than a year.
I don't hear about that often in Japan, but in Germany, people who can build a house often do so themselves.
I was still small, so I helped out by focusing on smaller tasks such as drilling holes with a hammer drill, carrying bricks and hammering nails.
I also helped in creating an adhesive mortar by mixing sand, cement and water.
Finally, the house was completed.
A spacious, chilly house.
Living in the house my father and I tirelessly built was great.
Looking at the garden, where the lawn stretched out beautifully, I though "there should also be a pond here" and decided to build one.
When my parents were gone for some time during summer vacation, I used that as a chance to get started. However, the soil was quite hard and I could only dig a 20 cm deep hole.
Although I worked hard for roughly two weeks, the depth remained the same with only the surface area increasing.
When my parents returned and discovered that I had dug a whole in their garden they got angry with me and forbade me to dig in the garden, but when I told my father that I wanted to make a pond, he understood me and helped me out. My father also happened to be the former Bavarian weight lifting champion and with his strength, we were able to build a roughly 160 cm(~5'2") deep pond.
My father helped me out but this was my first creation, nonetheless.
I was really happy to be able to build a pond by myself.
After the pond was completed, I piled up rocks I picked up in the neighborhood at the corner of the pond to make a small waterfall and went to the nearby lake to take water weed and lotus flowers to plant them in my own pond.
Decorating things is also fun, but my father taught me the true fun of creating something.
My machine-nerd-father loved new machines.
When I was in elementary school, my father bought a video recorder and Hi-fi made in Japan for home use.
Attached to it was the instruction manual written in Japanese.
The Japanese manual was thicker than its German counterpart.
Of course, I didn't understand anything written in the Japanese version.
That's when I thought:
"If I can read this, I can understand everything in more detail!"
At that time, I had the chance to watch a Japanese movie series called "Shogun", in which a foreigner falls in love with the daughter of the Shogun. When I saw the Shogun's daughter, I thought: "I also want to marry the daughter of a Shogun!"
I recorded "Shogun" with my father's recorder and watched it over and over again.
Someday, I want to go to Japan.
Japan was a kind of aspiration for me.
Germany and Japan have different education systems.
From 16 to 19, when Japanese people attend high school, I received training in precision mechanical engineering.
Thinking back, I believe my father played a decisive role when it comes to my career choice.
Creating simple machines is boring, because it's something everyone can do, I thought and thus, opted for high precision engineering.
The training was taught in a dual vocational fashion (dual system).
Also in other countries than Germany, it is common practice not to learn only in schools, but to practice in a company for 3 days a week, with the other 2 days studying at school, where you learn the theories and expand your knowledge.
I have been working at Siemens for three years, planning and programming machines, operating machine tools, producing parts and assembling parts, creating and adjusting new machines, producing control circuits for electricity, and so on. While making things first hand, I learned the basics of engineering.
After completing my training, at the age of 22, I went on to study at the Technical University Munich, which has brought forth 17 Nobel prize winners.
At university, rather than making things by hand, I learned about precision engineering and micro technology from a more theoretical standpoint.
Therefore, I learned a whole range of aspects about precision engineering; from a theoretical university approach to a hands-on vocational training experience.
As a student, I wanted to follow my father's example, so I bought a piece of land in Munich and built a low energy consumption house.
In 1977, a thermal insulation law was issued in Germany in order to promote low-energy housing and from then on, low energy consumption houses have become the standard.
These laws have been revised and strengthened several times, resulting in more and more eco-friendly houses.
While I don't hear about that often in Japan, it is not very rare in Germany to build a house as a student.
Two of my friends also built a house during their time at university.
I bought land sold by the state Bavaria. If you buy land from a municipality, you can get cheap deals that are affordable even with a student's income.
I took up a loan for buying the land and building materials, but since I had the time and the ability to build my own house, it was a reasonable decision to do so as a student.
I had a vague understanding of how to build a house, because I had helped my father and his friends years earlier.
So I started with drawing technical drawings for my own house and while I looked up questions that popped up during construction in specialist books, I basically did my own carpentry work.
Of course, my father also helped me out.
I built a house with large living and dining rooms, 2 floors and a basement.
A garage was placed above the basement, solar water heating was added and I also took insulation into consideration.
It was fun to build a house, but interior design and gardening were surprisingly time-consuming and expensive.
Though this is self-praise, I do believe my house turned out more precise than the one I had built together with my father, all those years ago.
I lived in the house for several years, but now I am renting it to a former colleague, because I moved to Japan.
After graduating from university, I got a job at PHILIPS and later went to Siemens to provide field support for semiconductor inspection equipment.
Though I enjoyed my hobby triathlon, which I started at age 19 after graduating from vocational training, and I had a fulfilling work and private life, I still had the lingering thought of going to Japan someday.
When I was 29, I thought that I had to act if I wanted something to happen, so I did 2 things:
Firstly, I started to study Japanese.
I learned Japanese from a course at a community center in Munich.
At first, I attended the course once a week, but progress was slow and I couldn't really remember anything, so reviewing my pace, I decided to go to classes every day.
As a result of continuing to attend classes every day for two or three years, my Japanese became the most advanced among the students.
Secondly, I entered a Japanese company.
Wanting a foothold in Japan, I changed my job and started working for Tokyo Electron.
Despite providing customer support for semiconductor production equipment for 5 years, communicating with the Japanese HQ in Japanese and going on a business trip to Japan, I was not able to work at the branch office in Japan.
Therefore, I decided that a European company with affiliation to Japan offered higher chances of actually working in Japan, compared to a Japanese company, so I changed my job and started working for the Belgian company ICOS Vision Systems as a product specialist for semiconductor production equipment. There, I worked in the German and Taiwanese branch offices and finally, my heart-desired Japanese branch office.
However, briefly after coming to Japan and working in my long desired position, it was decided that the Japanese branch was to be suspended.
At that time I had the choice of returning to Germany or staying in Japan and I chose the latter without hesitation. For once, I always wanted to come to Japan, but I also noticed something strange in Japan...
I was living in a mansion and when summer came, my room temperature was extremely hot and I was wondering: "Why is that? Japan and Germany should have about the same temperature..."
Not many Japanese people notice it, but Japanese houses don't really counteract cold or heat.
Along with asking myself "Why don't Japanese people improve their housing?", I strongly felt that I would like to contribute to the improvement of the living environment in Japan.
Thus, the decision to stay was felled quickly.
Four months after coming to Japan, the local branch office was closed and I became unemployed.
I wanted to stay in Japan, so I attended a Japanese language school while searching for a new job.
I was living off my savings I had accumulated so far.
At first, I wanted to find a job, but many of the Japanese language school students wanted to enter a university in Japan. Most students I had contact with graduated from the Japanese school and went on to study at university.
That also sparked interest in me, so I came to the career consultant for advice and searched on the internet.
About 20 years of working in high precision engineering and semiconductors have passed since I received my vocational training at the age of 15. I was confident in my abilities as an engineer, but it is true that I was biased towards that, having spent so much time only with technology.
Continuing on, I wanted to try out people related business.
Someday, I also didn't want to be used for some work, but do my own work.
Also, until now, I have always been surrounded by machines and men, so I wanted to do work where I can meet some women, too (haha), so I focused on finding a school where I could learn business management.
While I was searching for various things, I found the Shibaura Institute of Technology's Graduate School, called School of Engineering Management (MOT), the first school in Japan, that focuses on technology management.
Feeling that the fusion of technology and management was just the right thing, I decided to go there.
The graduate school was at night, so while attending classes, I worked for a long-established Japanese company dealing with ceramics and porcelain.
My reason to work there was that the company was run by Japanese, not foreigners.
Finally coming to Japan, I wanted to know about Japanese corporate culture and as this company was founded in the plutocratic Meiji dynasty, I thought it had deep history and offered chances for personal connections.
At this company, I conducted sales development of industrial machinery as well as planning and selling new products.
In my previous job at ICOS Vision Systems, though working in the Japanese branch, I mostly used German, so this was the first time I worked in a Japanese-only environment.
Speaking of Japanese people, they are addicted to their work. Truly workaholics.
I was under the impression that Japanese people worked 24/7, but once I got here, I was luckily proven wrong.
In addition, since the company dealt with ceramics, and with the thought of wanting to improve the Japanese housing environment, I told my boss at that time, that I would like to work on ceramic elements, that have become standard equipment in German eco-houses.
However, I was rejected with the reason that energy saving equipment doesn't sell well in Japan.
At this company, I couldn't pursue my goals.
I thought that, if no one else tries to improve the living environment, then I had to.
Before coming to Japan, I was consistently in the technology field, but afterwards, I majored in technology management and
did business planning and sales in the long-established Japanese company.
With the thought of wanting to improve the Japanese housing environment and being upset about not being able to do so at that company, I was determined to make the best out of all the things I have learned until now, such as technology, planning, business and management, and to found my own business.
However, when telling others about my plans to create a business for eco-friendly houses, most people were strongly opposed, as they also thought this would not sell well in Japan.
Nonetheless, the desire of wanting to improve the Japanese housing environment, which didn't fade even after 2.5 years, could no longer be suppressed.
Although it made me happy that people were worried about me, I ultimately decided to start my business in the foreign country of Japan, left my current occupation and established Passiv Energie Japan at the age of 37.
The people were right at first. The products did not sell well at all. Yet, by steadily doing business and frequently taking part in exhibitions and performing Japanese style musicals in order to gain publicity, we were able to gradually increase the number of customers.
At first, I was working alone, but I could increase the number of coworkers step by step.
People, who showed interest in my insulation or heat exchange systems were often people from colder regions, like Hokkaido or Tohoku and therefore, I was often in north Japan.
At the time the big earthquake struck Japan on March 11th 2011, I was in Kitami, Hokkaido.
While eating a late lunch at a Tonkatsu restaurant, the whole room suddenly started shaking.
Germany is not in an earthquake region, so this was my first.
Due to the influence of the nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima, both the German embassy and my father told me to go home, but I replied that I have both friends and customers in Japan, so there is no point in leaving.
The time following the earthquake was hard. There was an aftershock I couldn't get used to and I almost didn't sell any products in the following months. Once I saw customers who had become a victim of the catastrophe and seeing how hard they tried despite all that happened, I though I also had to overcome this downturn.
At the time of establishing my company, we imported heat exchange systems from Germany and sold them in Japan from a monopolistic position.
Selling these imported products proved difficult, unless we made them more user-friendly and upgraded their quality. I wanted to deliver better products and thus, developed the "Seseragi".
Whereas the time of development was a hardship, developing a machine that added a function to prevent condensation not found in the previous product, decreased operating noise and increased the ventilation amount; and delivering it to customers was a great experience.
My newly developed heat exchange system should convey the message of comfortably spending time in a fresh and cool environment, and I wanted the message to be easily understood, so I named it "Seseragi", which is a poetic Japanese word for a gently purling stream.
The parts used in the "Seseragi" are mostly produced by a Japanese manufacturer, except for the fan, the ceramic element and the controller, due to quality constraints.
Japanese manufacturers have good quality and fast delivery speed, and if we can procure parts in Japan, we will be less susceptible to fluctuations in exchange rates even when the yen weakens, and since we are working in Japan, I wanted to spend money on a Japanese manufacturer and decided to contract one.
In Japan, I feel like when buying a house, many people only consider the floor layout, appearance and price, but
overlook the most important thing to consider: the health of the residents. Therefore, it is vital to
consider thermal conditions, air quality, humidity control as well as condensation and mold prevention.
Proper ventilation is required to improve these basic functions.
As of late, the air tightness of houses has been improved, which makes it difficult for the room temperature to leak out, but on the other hand, the room tends to collect moisture, making condensation and mold development more likely to occur.
Furthermore, when air tightness is high and building materials or furniture contain chemicals, the indoor concentration of chemical substances will increase, contaminating the air, which may adversely affect the health of all residents. Such houses are called "sick house".
In Japan, the Building Standard Law has been revised to reduce the indoor concentration of chemical substances that cause sick houses and having ventilation equipment has become an obligation.
For this reason, there are other companies that offer heat exchange systems now, but they mostly focus on ducts, instead of ductless systems.
When the pipes get dirty, the air circulating through the rooms also gets dirty. Piping systems are complicated and can't be cleaned, so even if they are properly installed, the pipes get clogged with dirt and the system will stop functioning properly roughly 3 years from installation.
I can't believe that you can't use a machine even though it is properly installed.
You may also think that, in order to keep the air clean, you could simply open the windows or use an air purifier.
Opening the windows however enables dirt, insects, pollen and PM2.5, or any other unwanted things to enter and on top of that poses a security threat, as burglars or other suspicious people gain easier access.
That is why I can't recommend opening windows for ventilation.
Moreover, while air purifiers are full of surprises, they often generate ozone (O3) during operation.
Ozone not only oxidizes the human body and thus speeds aging, but is also increases the risk of cancer.
When it comes to cleaning the air, I can not forgive the harmful effects, that substances like ozone have on human health and beauty.
What worries me the most is that cheap sales are becoming the mainstream in the housing industry.
In order to build a house cheaply, it is necessary to use cheap materials or reduce payment of those involved in construction. If it leads to more efficient construction it may be good, but if you accidentally omit a requirement, it will backfire at the residents.
As a result, homes become uncomfortable and in the worst case, even harmful to its inhabitants.
It is easy to change the kitchen or storage even after building a house, but it is very difficult to change the basic performance such as the thermal environment, air quality, humidity control, condensation prevention, and mold control of the house later on.
So don't miss out on that.
These basic functions immediately effect people's health.
The heat exchange ventilation system “Seseragi” developed by me can contribute to the improvement of the basic functions of a house.
Japan is a leading country in technology and manufacturing.
I used Japanese video recorders since childhood and products with "made in Japan" written on it have the impression of being of good quality and safety.
Therefore, regardless of where you go in the world, Japanese products such as cars, home appliances, food and so on can be naturally obtained, but I have never seen a Japanese-made house anywhere outside Japan.
In Japan, there are many "large-scale housing manufacturers" that everyone knows well, but unfortunately, from the world's perspective, Japanese housing does not meet global standards.
Buying a house is the most expensive shopping of your lifetime and it concerns me, that there are only a few people in Japan, who make good housing a necessity and that the knowledge and technologies thereof are not being widely spread.
A house is a place of peace, where you can rest.
I want you to know the impact of the house on people and I want to make safe and secure homes more widespread.
Please, before you buy a house - the most expensive shopping of your lifetime - get in touch with me.
I am certain that I can be of service to you.
I want you to make use of whatever personal connections, knowledge and experience I have!
It is my mission to convey the correct knowledge about the living environment throughout Japan. What I want to tell you through the "Seseragi" is that I want you to live in a good home. I am selling the "Seseragi" in order to convey this sentiment.
I hope we can engage in good relations from now on.
I have a deep interest in the global environment, believe that humans can coexist with nature, and am working hard on my goal to create high-comfort homes without impacting the environment.
From ancient times, it is told that Japan has 8 million gods, living everywhere: in mountains,
the sea, forests, rivers, houses, fire, water and food.
It is about honoring the gods for the harvest, thanking the farmers for their efforts, and wishing for a peaceful life.
If this is replaced with energy, one Joule [J], the smallest unit, can be compared to one grain of rice. In the future society, the use of active energy (electricity, gas, oil, etc.) should be minimized, whereas natural energy sources need to be tapped. If every little bit of energy is treated with importance and every single Joule carefully saved, a great amount of energy can be accumulated, contributing to the reduction of CO2, economic saving and leading to a comfortable life, coexisting with nature.
You can compare 1 Joule to 1 grain of rice.
It is showing gratitude to the god of energy, who, by taking care of the energy, carefully recovers every Joule and makes it usable for a long time.
Japanese have traditionally lived in harmony with nature within their social environments, cherishing clothing, food and shelter, and have successfully re-used them.
Until the Edo period (1603 - 1868), it was an environmentally ideal recycling society that only used energy obtained from nature, did not produce trash and even used urine as fertilizer.
This excellent Japanese tradition has the potential to become the basis of a passive energy society that protects the global environment. It can be backed by cutting-edge environmental technologies and make Japan the world's leader in environmental matters, drawing all the international attention.
With conventional air conditioning systems, the comfortable temperature, as well as the energy used to run the
machines slowly dissipates to the outside.
The same is true for cars: the energy created by the engine gets lost when breaking. Hybrid cars however, take advantage of the break and convert it to force again.
Passive energy utilization is the application of the principle of a hybrid car to a house, keeping room temperature at a comfortable level without a powerful heating or cooling device and without dissipating the room temperature needlessly. It is an excellent technology that will from now on be the principle of creating a comfortable living space with 10% lower energy than conventional homes.
Another example is a teapot compared to a thermos jug.
In order to keep the tea warm, teapots need to be continuously supplied with energy. Even with increased energy source efficiency, the heat loss will remain the same and the increased efficiency effect can not be capitalized on.
The thermos jug on the other hand keeps the originally inserted energy for a long time. Due to the small heat loss, it is possible to keep an even temperature even though the heat source was small.
A teapot using the active principle
A thermos jug using the passive principle