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Melissa Dowland, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

When an Intelligent Buildings Innovation Center Opens Near You

Nov. 14, 2018
Our South Florida-based sustainability writer had been wanting to visit the new United Technologies Center for Intelligent Buildings ever since it opened earlier this year. Now that he has, he plans to go back again and again.

Last April, the United Technologies Corporation (UTC) Center for Intelligent Buildings officially opened to the public not far from me in South Florida.

I had been wanting to see the facility ever since, and last month I finally got the opportunity to visit as part of a BOMA Fort Lauderdale and the Palm Beaches program. The building serves as the global headquarters for UTC’s Climate, Controls & Security unit, which includes its HVACR, building controls and automation, and fire and security systems businesses. Those products are sold under the Carrier, Otis, Automated Logic, Edwards, Interlogix, Kidde, Lenel, and Marioff brands. Otis Americas also keeps its regional headquarters under the same roof.

The 224,000-sq-ft building, which will eventually house 500 UTC employees, was designed to achieve LEED Platinum certification. It incorporates state-of-the-art technologies – most, but not all of them, from UTC companies – to reduce energy and water consumption, and to ensure an indoor air quality (IAQ) that exceeds prevailing standards. According to research at Harvard University, this improved IAQ can double the building occupants’ cognitive function when compared to the IAQ found in most buildings. (See UTC's COGfx study for more on that.)

Since UTC customers are encouraged to visit the building, to learn first-hand how UTC products can work in their own buildings, technologies that are usually out of sight in basements, on roofs, and in equipment rooms, are openly displayed. There is also a high-tech briefing center and conference facility. The building features more than 60 interactive displays. The Kidde display – with a working fire alarm pull station -- simulates a kitchen fire and was a real hit on our tour!
  • Next month, watch for HPAC Engineering's new free eBook, 'Sustainable Frontiers', a collection of 'Clark's Remarks' highlights for 2018.

Some of the UTC products incorporated into the building’s design and construction include Carrier AquaEdge 23XRV chillers (below), advertised as the world’s first integrated variable-speed, water-cooled, screw chillers, which are displayed in a glass-walled mechanical room; glass-encased, Otis Gen2 regenerative elevators that reduce overall energy consumption 75 percent under normal operation when compared to non-regenerative elevators; and energy-efficient NCE escalators.

One of the more unique features of the building’s HVAC controls is the ability of occupants to use their smartphones, thanks to a proprietary app that ties into the AutoLogic’s WebCTRL building automation system, to vote on the temperature in variable occupancy spaces, such as conference rooms. Employees can also use their smartphones to access the parking garage and lobby security gates, remotely call elevators, control their workspace temperature and lighting, and for way-finding and locating personnel in the building.

In designing the Center, high-technology solutions were not limited to just UTC offerings. For example, the east- and west-facing windows are dynamic electrochromic glass that is not manufactured and sold by a UTC company. Unlike the photochromic glass about which I wrote last September, this glass darkens when a very low voltage is applied to it. The windows are IP-addressable and, like the rest of the building’s functions, are integrated into the WebCTRL system.
Not surprisingly, the building features LED lighting with customized controls throughout, and boasts a 350kW solar PV array that is designed to offset up to 30 percent of the building’s electric energy consumption. The entire facility is expected to operate at a 60 percent reduction in energy and CO2, a 36 percent reduction of inside water consumption, and a 100 percent reduction of outside water consumption. 
UTC welcomes visitors to this amazing facility. So, if you’re going to be in South Florida, contact your local UTC-CCS rep to arrange for a personal tour. It is well worth your time!

And speaking of time, who doesn't love a good time-lapse? Here's one for construction of the UTC Center.

A regular contributor to HPAC Engineering and a member of its editorial advisory board, the author is a principal at Sustainable Performance Solutions LLC, a south Florida-based engineering firm focusing on energy and sustainability.

About the Author

Larry Clark

A member of HPAC Engineering’s Editorial Advisory Board, Lawrence (Larry) Clark, QCxP, GGP, LEED AP+, is principal of Sustainable Performance Solutions LLC, a South Florida-based engineering firm focused on energy and sustainability consulting. He has more than two dozen published articles on HVAC- and energy-related topics to his credit and frequently lectures on green-building best practices, central-energy-plant optimization, and demand-controlled ventilation.