Johnson Controls Strides from Green Buildings to Clean Vehicles

Johnson Controls, Inc. opens new facility for developing advanced batteries for electric vehiclesJohnson Controls recently made headlines with an energy efficiency upgrade of the iconic Empire State Building, and it has just announced an equally ambitious foray into the field of electric vehicles. The company has opened the largest advanced energy storage research and development center in North America. The new project, funded partly by a $299 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act matching grant, involved an upgrade and expansion of the company’s existing Battery Technology Center and Battery Test Facility in Glendale, Wisconsin.

The development of advanced energy products and systems is just one aspect of Johnson Controls’s business model. The company also practices what it preaches in terms of internal conservation and sustainability efforts.

Johnson Controls and Sustainability Reporting

Transparent financial reporting has long been a hallmark of responsible corporate governance, and the same is becoming true for sustainability reporting. Johnson Controls was one of the first global corporations to sign up for the United Nations Global Reporting Initiative when it launched about ten years ago. Since then GRI has developed into the gold standard for sustainability reporting, known for its close involvement with stakeholders, reliance on established protocols, emphasis on transparency and inclusion of social issues.

Showcasing Sustainability with a LEED Platinum Headquarters

Last year, Johnson Controls’s newly renovated headquarters in Glendale won a LEED platinum rating by the U.S. Green Building Council. That would be a positive for any company, but for Johnson Controls it serves the added purpose of promoting the company’s own products. As with the Empire State Building upgrade, Johnson Controls approached this project with a big brush. Some of the features that won its LEED status are a sprawling geothermal heat pump system with almost 300 wells and more than 45.000 feet of photovoltaic panels.

Leading the Way with Partnerships to a Clean Vehicle Future

As for the new advanced battery facilities, the partnership with federal funding enabled Johnson Controls to achieve a complete technological overhaul for the first time in more than 25 years. In turn, the company made a generous investment in R&D upgrades for a state public institution, the University of Wisconsin campuses at Milwaukee and Madison. Ironically, when the talk in Washington is all about cutting public spending, the Johnson Controls partnerships demonstrate that appropriate funding and private investment can combine with stellar public education and research institutions to generate economic activity and create new jobs. The partnerships will directly create more than 380 jobs in research and manufacturing facilities, with the potential for many more in the growing electric vehicle market.

Image Credit: Electric vehicle by LHOON on

Tina writes frequently for Triple Pundit and other websites, with a focus on military, government and corporate sustainability, clean tech research and emerging energy technologies. She is a former Deputy Director of Public Affairs of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and author of books and articles on recycling and other conservation themes. She is currently Deputy Director of Public Information for the County of Union, New Jersey. Views expressed here are her own and do not necessarily reflect agency policy.

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