Power Over Ethernet: The Future of Smart Buildings

Advances in LAN technology have allowed Power Over Ethernet (POE) to become a viable power and control system for Smart Lighting, HVAC Systems, Security Control and other electronic functions in commercial real estate. The automation has become an important part of the Internet of Things (IoT), or the network of vehicles, home appliances and other items that enables these devices to exchange data, thus bringing the total number of tools in the IoT cloud well into the billions.

POE uses the same infrastructure that is part of a structured IT matrix, but allows data connections and electrical power the ability to universal speak to one other through a single cable. For buildings, zone boxes are placed within 13 meters of each other and a zone center can be found on each floor. This enables adapters, switches, ports, phone systems, lighting, cameras, wireless access points and more direct access to the Ethernet, future-proofing technology without need for expensive replacement. Every piece of equipment continuously updates itself via a common language with no human intervention required. For example, smart LED lighting hubs take advantage of the IoT and conserve energy through automatic power density adjustment.

For electrical contractors, POE technology offers a wealth of opportunities to streamline building automation, enhance building scalability and provide value-added expertise and services. It delivers cost savings by reducing the time and expense of having electrical power cabling installed. Devices such as IP cameras and wireless access points can be located wherever they are needed most, thus conferring enhanced flexibility to projects of all sizes. POE technology is also intelligently designed to protect network equipment from overlord or incorrect installation and comes from a central, reliable source that evenly distributes connectivity. The overall effect is lowered operational and maintenance costs with greater efficiency.

Occupants are also given the opportunity to reduce operational expenses and use technology more effectively for moving space requirements. Ongoing data collection can inform further decisions to save costs without sacrificing quality. Unlike devices reliant on wireless technology, POE also allows for additional security features to be applied without worry of haphazard disruption. Landlords and building owners have the opportunity to enhance base building infrastructure by providing tenants and perspective occupants a POE-enabled “Switch Gear Server Room” secondary to the traditional high-voltage metered electrical switch gear rooms. In this way, additions and changes in a high priced rental market become much more salient, versatile and realizable. This also allows landlords to further differentiate building envelope products from others in a highly competitive market for adaptability.

Industry leaders dedicated to disseminating POE’s automation for use by contractors across the United States include Security By Design and Wire Works Business Systems, Benchmark Builders Inc., International Lights Inc., CPL Group USA, Con Edison, and Northeast Technology Partners. Cresa Project Management is proud to embrace the adoption of POE and will continue to introduce and provide substantive insight to clients and prospects in the future.