The imminent G8 summit in Hokkaido, Japan, has clearly focused minds on the environmental issues that will dominate, such as the high-tech companies whose sales drive energy consumption.

We've already had a look at the changes needed on the energy supply side, so let's examine what's going on to improve the load of consumer demand.

Government sponsor

Prominent among the showcases at the summit will be a 'Zero Emissions House' sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) [Japanese].

The house features technology from a range of companies, including Sanyo and Honda, and is intended to illustrate how we can offset the energy we use with a variety of techniques.

Aside from solar panels and a wind-powered generator, energy savings come from using better insulation, next-generation lighting and many measures similar to those we saw on our recent visit to Panasonic's house of the future.

Robots on call

Perhaps to attract more attention than it might otherwise draw, METI has enlisted Honda's Asimo robot as a sort of official spokesbot/tea waiter.

After the summit, METI intends to move the £1 million house away from Japan's sparsely-populated northern island to a location where it can be inspected by a public who are increasingly interested in reducing its impact on the planet.