On April 23, 2018, Johnson Controls held a grand opening for its new Advanced Development & Engineering Center, introducing the complex to the media and federal, state, and local dignitaries. Located in the Stonebridge Business Center in New Freedom, PA, the complex includes a 258,900-square-foot testing lab and support facility, which consolidates testing facilities from Johnson Controls’ existing campus located 15 miles north in York, PA. In addition, the complex features a 107,000-square-foot engineering office building.
The complex represents Johnson Controls’ continued investment and leadership in the HVACR industry. The new testing lab will allow Johnson Controls to deliver the most innovative and highest quality products in the industry. In addition, it complements the R&D facility in Wuxi, China, and its newly opened world-class Asia-Pacific headquarters in Shanghai, China, featuring industry-leading green and smart buildings.
“Our customers expect the best, and we will continue to deliver the best – industry-leading HVACR equipment, such as our new YORK® YZ chiller,” said Bill Jackson, president, Global Products, Johnson Controls. “This world-class facility enables us to advance performance levels for customers, thanks to more than 400 dedicated and driven employees, as well as business partners in the York County community.”
Jacobs, a global company that served as the project architect, is seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for the York County complex.
The testing lab rises to 60 feet in some areas to accommodate YORK® brand chillers, including the new YZ chiller, and YORK® air handling units (AHU). The facility features over 20 labs, including air-cooled and water-cooled, acoustic, power electronics, compressor, air handling units and various other labs to spur innovation. The facility also houses a training center for variable refrigerant flow (VRF), chiller and other products and technologies.
The complex is a joint venture between McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. (St. Louis), PJ Dick (Pittsburgh) and Stewart & Tate Construction (York). Key regional sub-contractors also included The Bell Company, Baltimore; Frey Lutz Corp., Lancaster; Performance Construction Services, Inc., Pottsville; The Witmer Group, Mount Joy; and Kinsley Manufacturing and I.B. Abel, Inc., both from York.
Construction Strategies Bring Budget Back In Line
In its role, McCarthy Building Companies conducted a comprehensive target-value analysis of the project after all initial construction bids from contractors exceeded Johnson Controls’ proposed budget. The value analysis allowed the construction perspective to be integrated directly with the design to identify potential construction cost savings and efficiencies in advance. The analysis included assisting in constructability reviews, value engineering, and budgeting to ensure the project met the client’s requirements for quality, budget, and schedule.
Using McCarthy’s integrated design-assist schedule, the design phase and construction documents phase were completed simultaneously, creating scheduling efficiencies. This approach allowed the architect and contractor to work together at an earlier stage, facilitating open communication from the start.
The in-depth target-value analysis of such a complicated facility took McCarthy’s team nearly a year to complete. It resulted in an approximately 16% cost savings without compromising the demand for the test lab facility’s high-performance capabilities and functionality. According to Ryan Molen, LEED BD+C, project director-advanced technology & manufacturing for McCarthy Building Companies, Inc., savings and efficiencies included lowering the tonnage of steel by using pre-engineered solutions and introducing structural precast panels for exterior walls, using extensive prefabrication for mechanical systems, and in the office building maximizing space with an open floor plan with “huddle rooms” for private meeting spaces.
And, in addition to using three-dimensional building information modeling (BIM) technology to ensure all aspects of construction were fully coordinated, special monitoring technology was used to regrade the naturally sloping site with 20 feet of fill dirt before pouring concrete for the perfectly flat foundations that are critical to the test lab facility’s most sensitive equipment and technologies.
McCarthy’s target value analysis also determined the maximum cost allowed for 100% functionality of all mechanical systems, and this fixed budget information was included in the letters of intent (LOI) issued to the most qualified local subcontractor companies. By working directly with the subcontractors that were chosen, additional cost savings and efficiencies were achieved.
“As a one-of-a-kind, large-scale, advanced development and engineering lab facility, the Johnson Controls project had a number of unique construction challenges,” said Molen. “In addition to balancing flexibility in systems and building components for technologies that are rapidly changing and advancing in complexity, McCarthy was focused on driving efficiencies in cost and schedule.”