Transformation of the JCI headquarters shows how a building should be a living machine
A Fortune-100 company, Johnson Controls (JCI) is a global leader in automotive experience, building efficiency and power solutions. Seeking to align its headquarters campus with a corporate vision to create 'a more comfortable, safe and sustainable world,' JCI partnered with Gensler to transform a 1960s-office complex, located in Glendale, Wisconsin, into a sustainable showcase of the manufacturer's innovative technologies.
The scope of the project involved site master planning, the renovation and repositioning of two existing buildings (totaling 160,000 sq ft) and the design of three new ones: a 32,000 sq ft Campus Amenities building, a 115,000 sq ft headquarters for JCI's Power Solutions Business, and a four-level, 400-vehicle parking structure that includes space for plug-in hybrids.
The entire JCI campus achieved LEED Platinum status; the highest number of LEED Platinum buildings in one location. To do that, every LEED point had to be addressed, including daylighting and landscaping. We restored 13 acres of native prairie on the site and created 32,000 sq ft of rain gardens that will cleanse runoff of pollutants before it reaches open bodies of water.
Before, there was beautiful landscaping, but it was all about man controlling nature. We flipped that around and returned the site to a more natural state. While design elements highlight the site's natural features, infusing interior spaces with daylight and visual connections to the landscape, the buildings collectively operate above the 90th percentile for comparable facilities in the Department of Energy database. We doubled JCI's occupied square footage while reducing energy usage by 21%.
To implement our plan, we researched topics ranging from wildlife protection to maximizing light penetration in existing structures. To assess worker needs and recruit employee advocates, we conducted focus groups. Integrated project delivery, design-build partnerships, and construction training programmes enabled us to transform the campus in the most sustainable way possible.
Real-time results are compiled by JCI Metasys monitors on energy use, air quality, and equipment performance.
Results show reduction in energy usage by 21%, despite doubling the occupied square footage; reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 413.5 tons per year due to installation of photovoltaic solar array; reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions by 2,000 pounds per year; reduction in water usage by 1.73 million gallons per year; reduction in water runoff by 2.6 million gallons per year, resulting from permeable pavers; reduction in winter heating costs by 29% annually; reduction in chiller operating costs by 23% per year; reduction in demolition and construction waste by 89%, and 49% average annual lighting energy savings.
The Gensler Workplace Performance Index was used to measure employee assessment of the work environment. We found: a 460% increase in people who are extremely satisfied with their workplace; 72% of respondents believe the new workplace has had a positive to extremely positive impact on their job satisfaction; focused, heads-down work is critical to job performance at JCI, and the space is supporting focus work well; collaboration is also especially important at JCI, and the meeting areas support collaboration at the same level as top performing companies.
Our overarching goal for this project was to transform JCI's campus to embody the company's vision to 'create a more comfortable, safe and sustainable world.' We also aimed to maximize the site's green spaces and decrease energy use. We also needed to create a new workplace to support collaboration, and to function as a working showroom of JCI's products.
The JCI campus comprises the highest concentration of LEED Platinum projects anywhere. More than 75% of demolition waste and 89% of construction waste was recycled. 25% of construction materials were sourced in the Midwest, with recycled content used wherever feasible.
A major component of the project is its sensitivity to nature on the site. An oak grove was restored on the west end of the property, and a stream that bisects the property was restored with native plants and opened up to create a pond. Over 13 acres of exclusively native prairie vegetation are newly established, with more than half a mile of walking trails connecting them. Invasive plant material was removed and replaced with a diverse mix of native plants that better support local wildlife. The prairie should have fully established itself by 2011.
A large parking lot was replaced with porous pavers and swales that allow rainwater to be absorbed and naturally cleanse the runoff.
We implemented a geothermal exchange system, Wisconsin's largest photovoltaic solar array, and state-of-the-art mechanical, control and monitoring systems.
The incredible improvements in energy and water use, greenhouse gas and nitrogen oxide emissions, and runoff reductions are detailed elsewhere in the project description section. Collectively, the buildings operate above the 90th percentile of comparable buildings in the Department of Energy database.
The improvement in employee morale and connection to JCI, measured with Gensler's Workplace Performance Index, are remarkable. Most employees are extremely satisfied with their physical work environment, and the campus is functioning well to promote collaboration and support focus work.
The financial return on investment will save the company an enormous, and precisely measurable, amount of money in energy and water costs over the life cycle of the campus.
Emissions and non-renewable resource consumption are drastically reduced, and the environment on the campus and immediately surrounding it are improved by the restoration of the natural outdoor environment and reduction in runoff. JCI is a recognizably excellent corporate citizen.
If we were to take a holistic approach to this project and push the definition of sustainability, the buildings had to consider the human factor in all of this: what it actually takes to sustain people in a super-smart environment.
This idea that buildings need to respond to people, to inspire people, to sustain people, became the vision for this project: they need to be living machines.
We determined that a connection to nature is critical. Nature rejuvenates people and is good for the brain. Although most of us accept this anecdotally, a study from the University of Michigan quantifies it. The study shows that people learn better after walking in the woods as opposed to walking down a busy street. Much of our design concept here was about giving employees that metaphorical ‘walk in the woods’. It was all about creating a symbiotic relationship between people and the building and then the building with the outdoors. We very deliberately gave every employee a connection to the landscape both physically and visually through the glass we added. There are outdoor walking paths through the campus and gathering spaces as well. Daylighting permeates the place.
Perimeter walls throughout the two new buildings are floor-to-ceiling glass. Employees ‘feel’ the outdoors. And the indoors ‘feels’ and responds to them. We used JCI’s Personal Environment Module. It’s an under floor air distribution system and it gives all employees the ability to adjust temperature, air movement, lighting and white noise in their own cubicles.
Most people know JCI for its thermostats — in fact, Warren Johnson invented the room thermostat in the late 19th century. But JCI also makes sensors galore — for everything from humidity to carbon dioxide and occupancy. It makes hybrid and electric battery systems for cars. It even makes car interiors, many of them specifically for fuel-efficient vehicles. In broad terms, JCI’s core business is energy efficiency. Its vision is even broader, though. JCI sees its mission as creating ‘a more comfortable, safe, sustainable world.’ Those are words from the company’s brand value statement.
Hundreds of wireless controllers and sensors communicate throughout the buildings on the 33-acre site and feed information to the company’s building management system, which continuously monitors energy consumed per sq ft. Systems adjust automatically when variances occur, according to JCI, or with hand-held devices from any location via the Internet.
JCI counts 31,115 sq ft of ground-mounted solar photovoltaics and 14,335 sq ft of solar film on the roof. Solar thermal water heating technology is in place as well.
Employees are masters of their own comfort destiny. Every employee has desktop control of the temperature, lighting and airflow volume in his/her workspace and can introduce white noise as well. These systems turn off when the employee is gone for more than 10 minutes.
Even window shades adjust automatically to the path of the sun.
The project was completed within budget. As we doubled the occupied square footage, we reduced total energy consumption by 21%. JCI expects to recoup its investment in energy efficiency within eight years.
The investment in skylights, lighting controls, and electrical shades will pay for themselves through reduced lighting energy costs in 10 years. The solar photovoltaic arrays will pay for themselves in 18-20 years. The solar thermal water heating system will pay for itself in 7 years.
The entire JCI campus achieved LEED Platinum status, which means it has the highest number of LEED Platinum buildings in one location. To do that, every LEED point had to be addressed including daylighting and landscaping. We restored 13 acres of native prairie on the site and created 32,000 sq ft of rain gardens that will cleanse runoff of pollutants before it reaches open bodies of water. Before, there was beautiful landscaping, but it was all about man controlling nature. We flipped that around and returned the site to a more natural state.
Although Gensler doubled the amount of occupied square footage on the JCI campus, JCI is using 21% less energy than it did before the project began.
According to JCI, water usage has been reduced by 595,000 gallons a year thanks to systems for collecting and recycling rain water and the addition of low-flow fixtures.
Greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced annually by more than 827,000 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent as a result of on-site solar electricity generation.
We used the Gensler Workplace Performance Index, a strategic survey tool, to measure many aspects and functions of the workplace and employee satisfaction. By using the WPI before and after the project, we were able to define successful and problematic elements of the JCI workplace and retain or fix them, respectively, as we designed the new space. The results of our post-occupancy survey show objectively that the new workplace functions vastly more effectively than the old one, and is successfully supporting the unique work done at JCI. Workers report that they have the resources they need, they are overwhelmingly satisfied with the new space, and that collaboration is far easier than it used to be.
Comments from employees gathered in our anonymous post-occupancy survey speak to their satisfaction:
“The open space, natural light, and nice view make the new workspace much more effective and enjoyable.”
“The new physical workspace is sunnier, more spacious, and more comfortable.”
“I relish coming in to work and feel extraordinarily lucky that I am able to work in such a lovely environment.”
The improvement in employee morale and connection to JCI, measured with Gensler’s Workplace Performance Index, are remarkable. Most employees are extremely satisfied with their physical work environment, and the campus is functioning well to promote collaboration and support focus work.