International: Daikin's Technology and Innovation Center

The Technology and Innovation Center (TIC) was established by the Daikin Group in 2015 to develop sustainable products and technologies by actively engaging in co-creation to contribute to solving social and environmental issues.

“We are a team full of vitality in which engineers themselves actively go to the forefront of global markets and workplaces with their high aspirations and expertise, and greedily create innovation with new products, technologies, and services,” says Yuji Yoneda, director of the TIC.

Layout

The TIC, which cost US$94.3 million to construct, serves as a core base for technology development and is equipped with the world’s most advanced experimental equipment. It is a substantial building with a floor area of approximately 48,000m², spread over six floors.

It features open-plan mega office spaces, on the fourth and fifth floors, where people from diverse backgrounds, from inside and outside the company, can consolidate their expertise for collaborative creation.

The staff’s ability to circulate between the two floors is thought to help to speed up the technological development process. The aim of the open office design was to ‘heighten the visual sense of unity and help communication’.

The TIC is designed to promote collaborative working, with shared spaces for business meetings and information exchange

At the centre of each floor is a large Waigaya Stage where staff can gather for animated discussion. This expands the range of debates beyond the usual boundaries. All workspaces are within 30m of the stage, enabling communication within the entire office area,and adhering to MIT Professor Thomas J. Allen’s ’30-meter rule’, which demonstrated that there is an exponential drop in the frequency of communication between engineers as the distance between them increases.

The design process involved collaboration between the company’s engineers and the mechanical design team. The engineers developed innovative products for the new building, and the design team responded by taking advantage of product characteristics to maximize building performance.

The Enlightenment Hall serves as an exhibition room for sharing the company culture and corporate philosophy, essential for collaborative creation with external partners, and includes the history of technological development to date, along with machines.

The forest of knowledge is shared space where visitors can gather to discuss business and exchange information, collaborate and find partners to carve out the future.

The circular lecture hall is described as a space to gain awareness and inspiration. This is where conferences and lectures take place, with 250 seats that can simultaneously provide interpretation in four different languages.

Established in November 2015 as a base for developing core technologies, the TIC is equipped with the world’s most advanced experiment equipment

Test sites

As a state-of-the-art research environment, the laboratories at the TIC are equipped to speedily conduct tests under the regulatory and environmental conditions for any part of the world. There is also laboratory space for collaborative projects with the participation of researchers as part of the framework for conducting world-class technological development.

Each of the laboratories are adjacent to the office area, minimising the distance between testing facilities and office and meeting spaces. This allows uninterrupted repetition of thought and experimentation for accelerated development.

The laboratory floors are designed for excellent visibility so that engineers can see each other’s work in order to encourage interdisciplinary exchange and communication. The laboratories are equipped with the world’s most advanced experimental equipment.

The Future Lab, which is located on the sixth floor of the building, features seven fellow rooms that provide long-term research space for some of the world’s leading researchers. The lab enables outside experts to take the future in new directions by opening up new fields of study, promoting cooperative research with Daikin engineers. It is a place to create future-oriented innovation that anticipates future needs by communicating with external partners, such as industry, government and academics.

The fellow rooms are also used as satellite offices for universities participating in joint academia research projects and for IT venture companies, ‘sowing the seeds for technological innovation and new business’.

The Daikin Open Lab is an exhibition space where the company’s technologies are displayed and researchers present their results. Dealing with actual products and prototypes and engaging in discussions helps researchers solve problems, find new study topics and conceive new ideas.

Advanced building

The design of the TIC is based on the concept of a zero emissions building. To reduce CO2 emissions, the building’s energy consumption has been minimised by improving the energy efficiency of equipment, installing solar power and geothermal systems, recycling water and employing renewable energy, such as natural sunlight and ventilation. The TIC’s advanced environmental system aims to meet and surpass the highest global standards for the environment and the building has obtained environment assessment certifications, including LEED (highest certification: Platinum) and CASBEE (highest certification: S class).

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an environmental assessment system developed by the US Green Building Council (a non-profit organisation) and has been emerging as a global standard. There are four certification levels (Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum), based on the total points earned for seven assessment items – site, water, energy, material, air quality, new technology and local characteristics.

The buildings and equipment use advanced environmental technologies, primarily in the field of air conditioning, achieving energy efficiency and providing a comfortable indoor environment.

Purpose-built laboratories enable engineers to work together and share ideas

Energy efficiency

Passive design elements that are often employed in traditional Japanese building design to balance the climate play an important role in the energy efficiency of the TIC. Deep eaves block direct sunlight during the summer, while simultaneously allowing light to enter the building. Low-e glass boasts high thermal insulation values and auto-controlled blinds adapt according to the solar altitude to reduce heat load.

Large, open ceiling areas and two skylights in the office areas allow natural light and ventilation into the building. Glass ducts enable light from the light fittings to enter the area, enhancing visibility, while creating short supply and return air routes from the roof to the office reduces annual energy consumption by 20.5%.

The building’s design also includes a high efficiency air-conditioning system, which separates sensible and latent heat, using a desiccant heat pump dedicated outdoor air system (desiccantDOAS) and a high-sensible heat variable refrigerant flow (hs-VRF) system. Using both hs-VRF and desiccantDOAS achieves a high coefficient of performance throughout the year.

Combining the passive system with the advanced VRF system provides high energy savings and comfort in Japan’s diverse climate. In fact, the building’s energy usage was 65% less in 2016 compared to an ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2007 baseline.

Further energy savings and improvements to the working environment include underfloor air distribution, which takes outdoor air from the glass ducts and distributes it via underfloor diffusers that can be controlled by occupants to change the direction of airflow.

“Amid the rapidly changing business environment, we have cast aside the boundaries of proprietary technology development and eagerly embraced collaborative innovation to hone our core technologies and accelerate the development of products and technologies,” says Yoneda. “In this way, we are striving toward business contribution to the Daikin Group and solutions to the issues affecting society.”

You might also like

Money matters

Money matters

The Ironworks: eco-conscious apartments in Sheffield

The Ironworks: eco-conscious apartments in Sheffield

Installing showers: championing safety and efficiency

Installing showers: championing safety and efficiency