Press Release: 04.23.2018

A World-Class Research and Development Complex for Johnson Controls

Arial Image of Johnson Controls' new research and development complex.

Target-value design aligns budget while maintaining highest-quality and optimum schedule

On a remote site in a rural community in York County, Penn., stands a brand new state-of-the-art research and development complex built to exacting specification for Johnson Controls, a global diversified technology and multi-industrial leader serving a wide range of customers in more than 150 countries.

The complex is the newest and most advanced engineering and testing facility for chillers in the world. It includes a 107,000-square-foot engineering office building and a 250,000-square-foot testing lab and support facility.

“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 — from tight budget constraints and its rural location to a naturally rolling terrain that needed extensive regrading and fill, and extremely harsh winter weather conditions during a critical phase of construction,” said Ryan Molen, McCarthy project director, advanced technology & manufacturing.

Built as a joint venture between McCarthy Building Companies, Inc., PJ Dick and Stewart & Tate Construction, 75 percent of the construction work was completed by Pennsylvania firms, and 1,869 workers completed safety orientation on site, resulting in zero lost-time injuries. 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.

Jacobs served as the project architect for the facility, which is designed to accommodate YORK® brand chillers, including the new YZ chiller, and YORK® air handling units (AHU). In addition to more than 20 labs, including air-cooled and water-cooled, acoustic, power electronics, compressor, air handling units and various other labs to spur innovation, the testing lab facility also houses a training center for variable refrigerant flow (VRF), chiller and other products and technologies. It consolidates testing facilities from Johnson Controls’ existing campus located 15 miles north in York, Penn.

McCarthy 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 Johnson Controls’ stringent requirements for quality, budget and schedule.

Interior of Johnson Controls' new research and development complex

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 percent cost savings without compromising the demand for the test lab facility’s high-performance capabilities and functionality.

According to Molen, 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.

The use of advanced technology was also an important part of the project.  In addition to using three-dimensional 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.

By the numbers, construction activities included using 22,000 cubic yards of concrete, 5,000 tons of steel, 25 miles of total piping, 3,000 lineal feet of refrigeration pipe, 328,963 cinder blocks and seven acres of roofing.

McCarthy’s target value analysis also determined the maximum cost allowed for 100 percent 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. 

The complex, which is pursuing LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, 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 its 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.

About McCarthy Building Companies, Inc.

McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. is one of the nation’s premier commercial construction companies. Founded in 1864, the firm is currently the 16th largest builder in America (Engineering News-Record, 2016) and has been building in the science and technology market for more than 50 years. This resume of experience includes: research facilities; life sciences; nanotechnology; pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical processing; data centers; high containment labs (BSL-3, BSL-4 and Potent Compound); cleanrooms; agri-business; and biomedical facilities. Headquartered in St. Louis, McCarthy has offices in Atlanta; Collinsville, Ill.; Kansas City, Kan.; Denver; Omaha; Phoenix; Las Vegas; Dallas, Houston; Albuquerque; and San Diego, Newport Beach, San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento, Calif. McCarthy is 100 percent employee owned.

About PJ Dick

PJ Dick is one of three entities within a closely-held family of companies that perform contracting in a variety of markets, such as commercial, heavy/highway, government, healthcare, education, corrections, retail, infrastructure inspection, landfill management, and asphalt production. We have been able to become “best of class” by offering general contracting, design/build, construction management, and consulting services to our clients. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, the company has regional offices serving Maryland, the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia, and Ohio.

About Stewart & Tate Construction

Stewart & Tate Construction is a family owned and operated, full service construction firm that specializes in general building construction, site development, underground utilities, concrete construction, specialty paving, and specialized industrial construction. Headquartered in York, PA, the company provides preconstruction, construction, and post construction services for projects throughout south central Pennsylvania and Maryland.

About Johnson Controls

Johnson Controls is a global diversified technology and multi-industrial leader serving a wide range of customers in more than 150 countries. Our 120,000 employees create intelligent buildings, efficient energy solutions, integrated infrastructure and next generation transportation systems that work seamlessly together to deliver on the promise of smart cities and communities. Our commitment to sustainability dates back to our roots in 1885, with the invention of the first electric room thermostat. We are committed to helping our customers win and creating greater value for all of our stakeholders through strategic focus on our buildings and energy growth platforms. For additional information, please visit or follow us @johnsoncontrols on Twitter.

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