This article is the fourth part of a multi-part series looking into the world’s greenest buildings. It is based off the book of the same name by Yudelson and Meyer. I thought the book was excellent and it comes highly recommended from me.

Johnson Controls Campus

Out of all the case studies in this book, this one jumped out for its commitment to accelerating sustainability across an entire campus of buildings. The results achieved across the portfolio stood out as being significant.

The Johnson Controls Campus is located in Glendale, Wisconsin. It is reportedly the site with the largest concentration of LEED Platinum buildings.

Similar to the other building owners in this series, Johnson Controls, because of the nature of their business felt under pressure to deliver a campus that pushed the boundaries of sustainable design and construction and with the Glendale campus they have done just that.

The first feature on the campus that jumped out at me was the geothermal system that is used for heating and cooling. Out of town campus facilities have an advantage over their city centre high-rise counterparts. The space that is available and the reduction of underground utility services and underground transportation services like subway lines and tube lines means that the design team can think bigger and implement solutions that would not be possible in a dense urban area.

The geothermal system that was used takes advantage of the earth’s constant temperature to heat or cool the water used by the HVAC equipment. To build this, they drilled 275 wells, which supplies water to the heat pumps and the chillers. Each well was about 100m deep and in total 54.5 km of plastic piping connects the wells to the indoor HVAC equipment. This system reduces winter heating costs by 29% versus a traditional gas boiler and reduces summer cooling costs by 23%.

The campus is also powered with two solar PV systems. There is a 1,452-panel array, which supplies 350 kw and 1,300 sq m of thin film PV cells generate 135 kw.

One of the most impressive features was the efficiency with which the campus supplies its lighting. The national average in the United States is 1.5 watts per sq ft, whereas the Johnson Controls Campus only consumes 0.45-0.65 watts per sq ft.

This was achieved with 70+ skylights that bring in natural light. There are also automatic adjusters on the window shades that vary to keep the building well lit with the least amount of artificial lighting.

All the building operating systems are tied into an intelligent BMS, which has more than 51,000 data points. This allows the temperature and lighting to be accurately monitored and controlled from a single point on the campus, with or without human intervention.

Some other features that I liked and that I thought were interesting include: green roofs on the buildings, low flow water fixtures, rainwater harvesting which is used to flush the toilets and a solar thermal system which supplies 30% of the hot water needs of two buildings.

A success point of the campus development, saw energy use fall by 21%, even though the amount of office space doubled. This allows the campus to rely on a normalised energy use of 255 kWh/sq m.

What you need to know   

This article is the fourth part in a multi-part series where I am picking out my favourite sustainable buildings from Yudelson and Meyer’s book The World’s Most Sustainable Buildings.

Today was the turn of looking at the Johnson Controls Campus in Glendale, Wisconsin.

I though it was impressive how sustainable initiatives were used across the campus to drive down energy and water use, while maintaining it as an attractive location to work.

As a company that produces technology for the built environment, they no doubt felt under pressure to create a campus that highlighted their sustainability credentials and with this, they have achieved that.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think makes a building a sustainable building?

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I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

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