The Sinclair Hotel Is the First in the World to Power Itself With This New Technology
See full Architectural Digest article by Alex Temblador here.
Oil companies aren't known to be the eco-friendliest of businesses, which is why it’s ironic that an old Sinclair Oil building in Fort Worth, Texas, will soon be one of the most ecologically sound hotels in the world when it opens in a few weeks. This fall, the Sinclair hotel will open in one of downtown Fort Worth's Art Deco gems, which was built in the 1930s. The 17-floor, 164-room property was renovated by Forrest Perkins and Merriman Architects, who retained the building's signature ZigZag Moderne façade and Art Deco interiors. But while the Sinclair's aesthetic is enough to entice travelers to stay, it's the hotel's technological amenities and advancements that set it apart.
Like a lot of things in Texas, the Sinclair aimed for bigger and better, which resulted in becoming the first hotel in the world to power its lights, window shades, smart mirrors, and minibars with power over Ethernet (POE) technology. Ethernet cables are typically used as network communication lines for landline phones and routers, but Sinclair Holdings president and the hotel's developer, Farukh Aslam, discovered that Ethernet cables could be used in a more efficient way. “We are taking modern technology and maximizing its potential in The Sinclair, a 90-year-old building, while staying true to the quality and detail of its iconic design,” says Merriman Anderson Architects senior associate and team leader Patrick Hazard. When opening a previous hotel, Aslam installed a light dimming system that never worked. When the electricians couldn’t tell him why, Farukh looked for something more efficient, which is when he came across Cisco, the technology company that produces a POE lighting system with a dimmer built in. Thus began a new adventure into power over Ethernet.
With POE, the Sinclair will power more than 2,000 lights and amenities via an IP address on a computer network, which will not only reduce the building’s energy consumption by 30 to 40 percent but will allow the property to forgo the need to hire electricians, saving thousands in labor costs. If a light or other POE device goes out anywhere between the hotel's basement restaurant and the rooftop bar, the Sinclair will be alerted through an immediate notification. The property is better and more sustainably prepared than most hotels when a power outage occurs. Its backup system runs on the world’s first UL 924 lithium ion battery, a system Sinclair Holdings discovered in a LG office in Korea. Comparable to diesel generators, which are more often used by buildings, the lithium ion battery takes up less space, is environmentally-friendly, and can power the building for nearly three hours during a power outage.
As with the backup lithium ion battery, Sinclair Holdings asked vendors to create products that would run on POE to accommodate the systems already at work in the hotel. In the end, it was able to put the motors for window shades, minibars, and smart mirrors on POE, and is currently working with LG to make POE air-conditioning units and TVs, and an exercise-equipment company to create machines that would allow guests to power the hotel through 20 minutes or more of cardio workouts.
Hannah Walker, in-house designer at Sinclair Holdings, explained that companies like LG have incentive to make POE products. "POE is the only universal power," she says. "The business model is great for these companies. They can make one product and send it around the world." Ultimately, the Sinclair’s POE system could affect the direction of how we design electrical systems in buildings worldwide. Several government agencies are partnering with the hotel to supervise the building’s power consumption, which could improve how we use and save energy, and perhaps even make POE more common. While the Sinclair's sustainable design is phenomenal, Walker says, “It was never our [original] end goal to be sustainable. We just wanted everything we were doing to be way more efficient.” But it quickly became clear that sustainability was indeed the more efficient path, and the company is now making green technology an integral part of their mission. The Sinclair hasn't even opened yet, and it’s already changing the fabric of design.
Location Mentioned: The Sinclair, Autograph Collection Hotel