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Our History

In 1885, long before anyone talks about carbon footprints or climate change, Warren Johnson launches a company to explore new ways to harness and conserve precious energy resources. In doing so, he also launches a tradition of customer-focused innovation—a tradition that has inspired thousands of employees for more than 130 years and that continues to drive the success of Johnson Controls. Even before he founds the firm now known as Johnson Controls, Warren Johnson is the quintessential inventor. His pneumatic tower clocks, electric storage batteries, wireless telegraph business and steam-powered luxury cars and postal service trucks anticipate—and shape—the future.

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This Month in History
empire state building
The Empire State Building opens, May 1, 1931

On May 1, 1931, the Empire State Building opened in New York City.  The art deco building has been called the "Eighth Wonder of the World," as it was the tallest building in the world upon completion, and it remained so until 1973. Even today, the 102-story, 1,250-foot edifice is the third tallest building in New York, and the fifth tallest in North America. It took just over a year to construct the Building, at a cost of $41 million.  However, an air-conditioning system was not a part of the Building's initial construction.  It would not be until 1951, when the York Corporation (later York International, which was acquired by Johnson Controls in 2005) installed two compressors to cool the Building up to the 41st floor, that Building occupants could enjoy relief from summertime heat.  The Johnson Service Company (today's Johnson Controls) supplied the temperature controls, which allowed Building tenants to regulate individual room temperatures.  In 1953, floors 42 through 85 were air conditioned, and in 1957, the remaining occupied space of the Building was air conditioned as well.  York provided the compressors for the entire air conditioning system.  In 2009, Johnson Controls was part of a team of energy efficiency experts working on retrofitting the Building to reduce its annual energy use by 38 percent.  The improvements, which included an upgrade of the building control system to optimize the HVAC operation, are expected to save the Building's management $4.4 million annually in energy costs.