Emerson Climate Technologies Helix Innovation Center

Breaking Ground

Emerson Climate Technologies broke ground Oct. 17 on a $35 million innovation center on the University of Dayton campus.

The facility will foster an ambitious, collaborative approach to conducting research to create new technologies that address heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) industry challenges.

Emerson plans for the innovation center to be a global hub of HVACR industry education. The facility includes three training rooms, and the company plans to host industry meetings and hold forums for HVACR professionals on-site. HVACR engineering education will also be a focus of the innovation center and the company is working with the University of Dayton on plans to leverage the facility for classes and hands-on student experiences.

"The University of Dayton is proud to be Emerson’s partner in this endeavor,” said Daniel J. Curran, president. “This will be a place where new ideas will be explored — a place where our students, faculty and researchers will engage with Emerson in the kind of product innovation that will make a difference in our world."

The new Emerson Innovation Center, also referred to as "The Helix," is slated to open in late 2015 and will meet the criteria to be LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.

"Since we first conceived this project over a year ago, the support from the State of Ohio, the City of Dayton, and the University of Dayton has been tremendous. The interest and support from leaders in the HVACR industry around the world has also been truly remarkable,” said Ed Purvis, executive vice president, Emerson Climate Technologies. “The needs of the markets we serve are changing dramatically, and the requirements for our business to innovate in the ‘new’ world of information technology and connectivity are much greater and much more challenging than ever. And we see The Helix as a hub where academic researchers and industry professionals can jointly test ideas and concepts at the system level in our real-world environments."

When completed, the Emerson Innovation Center will employ 30-50 people and focus on five HVACR industry markets: supermarket refrigeration, food service operations, residential connected homes, data center cooling and light commercial buildings. To make this facility a real-world proving ground for solving HVACR challenges, Emerson will offer five specialized research areas under one roof.

To support research on supermarket refrigeration, including alternative refrigerants and controls, Emerson will build a 2,500-square-foot model supermarket, complete with refrigerated cases, dry goods shelving and integrated controls that include lighting and point-of-sale systems.

A fully operational 1,500-square-foot commercial kitchen will help Emerson and its collaborators tackle challenges in the food service industry, including connected kitchen concepts, new refrigerants and food safety.

The facility will also include a fully functional two-story, three-bedroom home with ambient temperature control to simulate seasons and climates. The model home will allow Emerson to develop innovations in heating, air conditioning and connected home concepts.

The approximately 1,000-square-foot data center space will expand the ability of Emerson Network Power’s Thermal Management business to deliver more holistic, next-generation approaches to controlling the data center environment and managing heat in the most effective way possible. Emerson engineers will use the space to develop intelligent and versatile cooling technologies and controls that improve energy efficiency, maximize free cooling and protect mission-critical applications.

Lastly, Emerson will leverage the entire innovation center building to research innovations in heating, ventilation and cooling of commercial buildings, as well as developing new building automation systems to better control them.

New Chapter in Innovation

Campus and regional leaders marked another chapter in Dayton innovation with the announcement of the Emerson Innovation Center. Dayton has always been a city of innovation.

Today, regional leaders gathered to celebrate Emerson Climate Technologies' announcement of a global innovation center on five acres of University of Dayton land at the corner of Main and Stewart streets.

"Dayton entrepreneurs and companies have a long history of innovation," said Ed Purvis, executive vice president of Emerson Climate Technologies. "The city is home to a number of firsts, including the first cash register, the country’s first home air conditioning system, and of course, the birthplace of aviation. We mark this as another chapter of Dayton innovation."

The 40,000-square-foot innovation center is expected to open in late 2015 and employ between 30 and 50 people. Its classrooms and laboratories will be where Emerson experts, industry leaders, and University faculty and students come together to drive the future of the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration industry.

Company officials estimate the project cost at between $35 million and $40 million, of which approximately $20 million will be used to build the facility.

"I believe universities that will thrive in the future are the ones that forge strategic partnerships to advance innovation — and to create jobs," said Daniel J. Curran, University of Dayton president. "Our partnership with Emerson is not a new one. It spans 30 years and stretches from Sidney, Ohio, to Suzhou, China."

When the innovation center is fully operational, "students from various disciplines — engineering, marketing, even dietetics — can walk over to this world-class facility and be part of the future," Curran said. "Some will take classes. Others will work as interns or co-ops. Our researchers and faculty, who are experts in advanced materials and energy efficiency, will help Emerson's engineers drive innovation."

The University's master plan devotes space on this part of campus for attracting high-tech companies that can spur research, serve as real-world classrooms for students and spark economic development for the Dayton region. In 2013, GE Aviation opened a $53 million research center nearby. It was named the state's best economic development project last year.

"This land that we're standing on will continue to be a cornerstone for Dayton. It will continue to be a catalyst," said Jeff Hoagland, president and CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition and a 1991 University of Dayton graduate.

Connect with Me

As dean of the School of Engineering, I am privileged to watch our students growing into engineers dedicated to a better world for us all. At the University of Dayton, we're committed to supporting student success by providing opportunities that connect learning, research and scholarship with leadership and service — the Catholic, Marianist tradition.

With our shared knowledge, we can continue to transform engineering education to prepare our students for even greater success.

Eddy Rojas
Dean of the School of Engineering

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