Siemens Diesel
Systems Technology

Objective: a flexible, environmentally friendly, worldwide headquarters facility for the production of next-generation diesel fuel injectors, including manufacturing, engineering, corporate administration, sales and marketing, and research and development spaces.

Client: Siemens Diesel Systems Technology LLC, Chicago, Illinois

Location: Blythewood, South Carolina

Size: 200,500 square feet, manufacturing and administrative; 65-acre site


  • Class 10,000/ISO 7 cleanroom
  • 400 parking spaces lit by energy-efficient fixtures
  • 4 truck docks, drive-in ramp, and dedicated service drive
  • materials recycling center
  • preplanned to accommodate a three-fold expansion of on-site facilities
  • construction waste was reclaimed and recycled
  • cleared trees were chipped and used to create a site-wide walking/running trail

Cost: $10.5 million

Image of architectural design for an environmentally friendly facility

Housing a process that requires exacting temperature and humidity tolerances in a city that promotes itself as “famously hot” might seem counterintuitive, but since South Carolina is already home to many of the world’s top automotive companies and suppliers, Richland County offered a unique package of strategic advantages for the manufacture of next-generation diesel fuel injectors. Even the location’s apparent constraints, such as protected wetlands and steeply pitched terrain, were counterbalanced by its logistical merits: a large accessible site in an upscale industrial park, proximity to intermodal transportation hubs, and a skilled workforce were among the decision drivers.

Faced with a limited budget and a short timeline, Carlisle Associates initially met with the company’s CEO as he was passing through Charlotte Douglas International Airport to begin a dialog about transforming all these environmental obstacles into operational advantages that would, ultimately, exceed the parent company’s green building and sustainability guidelines.

The facility’s machining, manufacturing, warehousing, and cleanroom environments require strict control of temperature, humidity, airflow, and airborne particles to prevent rust and contamination. More than simply heating and cooling, properly conditioning the air provides both consistency and efficiency. Rather than specify a typical rooftop unit, Carlisle chose large air rotation devices, which are quieter, easier and less expensive to install, cost less to operate and maintain, and continually monitor, mix and evenly distribute conditioned air as appropriate throughout the offices and plant.

Having previously used similar systems as an economical way to heat and ventilate large warehousing environments, Carlisle here repurposed the devices to heat and cool the workspaces. Carlisle worked closely with the system’s manufacturer to design new features that monitor and control moisture to within +/-1% and temperature to within +/- 2ºF, enabling the precise machining operations to maintain their exacting 0.0001-inch tolerances.

To further extend control and efficiency, Carlisle focused on insulation, using exterior insulated precast concrete panels, low-e insulated glass curtainwalls and windows, insulated doors, and full-perimeter insulation to reduce air infiltration and minimize heating and cooling loads. Positioning the building at the site’s corner optimized its solar orientation, maximizing daylight and views while reducing solar gain and glare.

Careful analysis of functional requirements highlighted other aesthetic opportunities. Taking full advantage of the site’s steeply sloped topography, Carlisle terraced the facility, docks and parking areas to avoid encroachment on wetlands, minimize the time and expense of grading and fill, and showcase design features, including a curtainwall view into the plant, a reflective exterior of integrally colored white concrete and quartz precast panels with a white roof, sparkling glass panels throughout common areas, and distinctive landscaping. A V-shaped office layout wraps the building’s entry corner and groups staff by functions, housing the engineering office suite in one wing and HR offices, training rooms, employee lockers and a venditeria overlooking the landscaped grounds in the other. This organizational symmetry ensures that administrative and production staff share easy visibility and accessibility, and all workers are exposed to daylight and exterior views throughout their workday.

Working with rather than against the lay of the land, Carlisle designed in functionality, security, beauty and energy efficiency. Through multiple upfits, expansions, product design innovations, and changes in ownership, the Blythewood facility has continually proven itself to be versatile and flexible.