100-year upgrade: Historic buildings get power via Ethernet

March 26, 2019

Sanger Brothers Building

8 stories

515 Houston St.

Opened: 1929

Architect: Wiley G. Clarkson

General contractor: Harry B. Friedman

Current tenants: CVS Pharmacy, intelligent buildings

Sinclair Building

16 stories

512 Main St.

Built: 1930

Architect: Wiley G. Clarkson

General contractor: Harry B. Friedman

Conversion: into a Marriott Autograph Hotel

Fort Worth Firsts

• The Sanger Building will be home to the first “intelligent building” in Texas as it will have over 2,000 lights powered using Ethernet cables when completed.

• The Sinclair Building will house the first hotel in the world to use POE (power over Ethernet) technology to power all of its lighting.

Buildings can have brains too.

Real estate developer Farukh Aslam, who is remodeling the Sanger Building and the Sinclair Building in downtown Fort Worth, is bringing innovative technology that is new to the area as he refurbishes these historic buildings. In short, these two buildings from the art deco era will become “intelligent” buildings.

The objective is to help conserve energy use throughout the buildings. The Sanger Building, when complete, will have over 2,000 lights powered by Ethernet cables. The Sinclair hotel will be the first hotel in the world to use POE (power over Ethernet) technology to power all of its lighting, according to Aslam.

Aslam said the effort began with trying to find a better solution for light dimming.

"Being able to communicate over IP (internet protocol) to the lighting and provide power at the same time seemed like a good solution to our issues," Aslam said. "We're now adapting this technology to a multitude of other devices, by doing so creating a large network that can all be communicating and making efficient and intelligent decisions.

"By combining the power and the network on a single cable, we're making every device in the hotel intelligent without adding another layer on top."

Ethernet and power over Ethernet are the same thing, Aslam explained.

"CAT 5, or Ethernet cable, has eight pairs of wires in it. We're using some of those pairs for power (power over Ethernet) and some to deliver the network communication," he said. "This is the same thing that makes IP office phones power on, and also connect to the internet."

The Sanger Building opened in 1929 as Sanger Brothers Department Store. It is now a residential building with 59 lofts and ground-floor retail stores. The neighboring Sinclair is an iconic art deco building that opened in 1930 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is being redeveloped as a luxury, 165-room Marriott Autograph Hotel.

Merriman Anderson is the architectural firm and interior designer for the Sanger Building and the architects for the Sinclair Building. They are coordinating with the owner and MEP engineers to help implement this technology throughout the buildings.

There are a number of benefits of POE.

*It uses no more than 60 volts, making it safe and easy to install.

*Instead of running power and data, POE requires less material and less labor, so it takes less expertise to install.

*Computers have their own IP address and can find each other's network. Each light fixture can thus find its own network, which allows each switch to be reprogrammed instead of having to rewire an entire room.

*An energy storage system is used as backup power instead of a generator. It is quiet, requires less space and is easier to accommodate in a land-locked building, especially a historic building.

Merriman Anderson Architects did not have to create extra spaces for this equipment when designing the renovation.

Aslam said in the Sanger Building there are office spaces, a data center, a CVS Pharmacy and a future ballroom with POE lightning currently installed and operating. In the Sinclair, plans are to expand to POE window shades, mini bars, electric mirrors, touchscreen wall controllers, phones, cameras, door locks and all lighting as well.

"This technology allows constant customization for the tenants, and an added level of safety," Aslam said. "PoE is considered low voltage so it cannot shock anyone or catch on fire. By replacing high voltage in a building, you're inherently making a much safer environment for your consumers.

"By being IP-based and low voltage, you can constantly be customizing your settings and making changes on the fly, which is ideal for residences and office tenants. Things like color temperature, occupancy sensing, light levels can all be adjusted and customized, then changed within minutes."

Aslam said that going all PoE, and then powering the Cisco Switches with a technology called digital electricity, is creating a DC loop. This eliminates the conversion from AC to DC, which makes the devices and lighting more efficient and last longer.

"You will also see this reflection in the electrical bills when you can accurately measure occupancy and adjust devices accordingly," he said.

The owner is confident that soon guestroom air conditioning units, up to 55-inch TVs and room minibars can also be powered using POE technology.

Aslam said this is only the beginning in the quest to save energy.

"In our next project we plan on creating a potential net-zero building," he said.

A net-zero energy building is a building in which the total amount of energy used annually is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site.