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Top Questions on Intelligent Building Design

The LEDG team recently presented at Pennovation with the Siemon Company and Cree on To Build a Better Future… We Need to Change the Way We Build. There were many questions from the audience we felt were worth sharing with our audience. Let us know if you have any others.

Is there a tipping point on the size of the building that makes sense to use and switch to POE?

For new construction, the data shows that overall Total Cost of Ownership for utilizing POE technologies will be less than deploying systems with traditional AC electrical requirements.  In a retrofit scenario, the amount of existing infrastructure that remains in the space will dictate the price delta between running new POE cabling vs. leveraging existing electrical infrastructure already in the ceiling.

What industries make the most sense for intelligent building deployment?

Most industries can benefit from intelligent building solutions. We find human-centric industries such as higher education, healthcare, high-tech, retail, and others are the early adopters. Though, many manufacturing and warehousing are already using smart technologies and can easily take the next step to an integrated solution.

What is the delta in savings for POE lighting in new construction?

Case studies presented at the event show that when fixture cost and installation cost are combined, the savings from POE lighting can be substantial.  This is primarily driven by the cost of installation per network drop (+/- $250/drop) vs. the cost of a traditional AC electrical circuit utilizing pipe and wire (+/- $1,000/location).

How difficult is the integration with building management systems (BMS) and lighting control systems?

It is a standard practice with most Tier II and Tier III lighting control systems to integrate with BMS, but end users and architects should be mindful of how systems integration is specified in their contract documents.  Clear expectations and integration parameters should be provided so that the end user is left with a system that provides the ‘single pane of glass’ functionality they expect.

Can you use lighting controls for load shedding during peak demand?

Absolutely. Load shedding allows you to reduce the facility’s load as well as the severity of an event as defined by the utility company. After pre-programming the desired behavior, user interaction should not be required.

There are dimmers now that will control the color temperature of the lights in a space. Is there a phone app?

Yes.  We are beginning to see manufacturers offer this flexibility within a phone app (through their own app or through available APIs) that allow a building occupant to adjust the color temperature of the lights in their individual office or above their desk in an open office environment.

The NEC has recommendations for wire sizing and derating when multiple current carrying conductors are in the same tray or conduit.  Is there similar guidance available for POE cabling in the cable tray?

Currently, there is not a specific guidance offered by the NEC but it is expected that this will be addressed in the next revision of the code.  However, as was discussed at length during the presentation, it is important to consider the endpoint application (lighting, wireless, desktop computer, HVAC, security, etc) when specifying a structured cabling infrastructure to support POE systems.  Considerations need to be made for the amount of power being applied to the cable, the pathway system it will reside it, the device that is being connected, etc.

Does the increase in POE wattage change the cable distance limitations or cabling requirements?

Yes. As mentioned above, utilizing higher wattage POE requires more thought in the structured cabling design.  Higher wattage applications, like lighting, may require different cable specifications to limit things like temperature rise.

If I am running cable through an unconditioned space – like an attic – is that an issue for higher wattage POE?

It is important to understand the expected environmental conditions of the space.  If the wire is rated for space and application, there should be no issues, but a ‘standard’ category 6 cable may not work in this case.

Are all systems required for an intelligent building need to be cloud-based?  What are the security concerns associated with it?

Systems do not have to be cloud-based but many manufacturers are focused on developing products that leverage the cloud. Security remains the number one concern for owners adopting Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, and we expect that hybrid support models that include on-premise and off-premise infrastructure will become more prevalent.

How do IT and facilities management work together on troubleshooting?

The benefit of an intelligent building infrastructure is that it enables a data-driven facilities management model. All departments in the organization can have access to relevant data that help them understand how troubleshooting should occur.  IT and facilities teams need to work together to establish different processes for troubleshooting network-connected systems, but the availability of data from those edge devices should make this process efficient.

Questions on Intelligent Buildings? Contact us.