Operation and Control of Power over Ethernet Technologies

Lester Shen

Project Update

The project team has recruited two sites; an office and a classroom, to install and demonstrate Power over Ethernet technologies. Construction at both sites recently began and the project’s Technical Advisory Group held its first meeting in April 2018. Read the full update.

Why This Research Is Needed

Power over Ethernet (PoE) technologies are currently ubiquitous in offices in the form of phones, access points, and IP cameras and managed by on-site IT staff.  As power capabilities have increased, PoE devices are now being integrated across additional building systems, including lighting, plug loads, and HVAC controls, as a tool to improve buildings’ energy efficiency.

PoE-thumb.pngPoE devices are connected to network switches, which fall under current IT services. This provides an energy management capability for sites where building automation systems (BASs) are not in place. These energy saving functions are overseen by IT staff who perform these types of tasks for current PoE technologies.

Some current challenges with PoE energy saving initiatives include helping stakeholders overcome the barriers to implementing these technologies and clearly demonstrating the energy saving benefits of these PoE systems to make adoption worth pursuing.

Project Process and Expected Outcomes

This project will demonstrate the use of IT network switches to provide energy management opportunities where they typically are not available. Researchers will look at how PoE, through the use of network switches, can power and control lighting, plug loads, and HVAC, if appropriate, at a number of sites to understand:
  • The technical and economic barriers and opportunities may exist to adoption of these existing technologies for energy saving purposes
  • The feasibility of implementing these PoE technologies within standard design/construction practices and under existing commercial codes
  • The energy and non-energy benefits of these technologies and systems
The intended impact of the project will be:
  • To guide architects and engineers on the best practices in delivering these systems to their clients and
  • To enable utilities in offering programs that will encourage and facilitate their adoption

This project is supported in part by:

A grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy under the Award Number EE0008191.

A grant from the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources through the Conservation Applied Research and Development (CARD) program.

Co-funding by CEE in support of its nonprofit mission to advance research, knowledge dissemination, and program design in the field of energy efficiency. 

Additional co-funding is provided by Xcel Energy, Wold Architects and Engineers, and LHB.

Project Info

Fall 2017 to Fall 2020

  • Assess the receptiveness of commercial and institutional markets to these new technologies
  • Demonstrate the feasibility of PoE technologies within standard construction practices and building codes
  • Assess the energy and cost savings opportunities
  • Formulate approaches to spur adoption of PoE technologies in the marketplace

Non-Energy Benefits
  • Tunable LED lighting can improve performance and productivity in schools and offices.
  • IT staff responsibilities expand into building operations.

Utility Implementation
This project will work with utilities to assist and encourage program development based on findings.

If widely used, the lighting, plug, and HVAC system control technology validated in this project could have a savings of roughly 750 Tbtu per year, representing a 50% energy savings across the commercial building sector. 

Project Partners