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Panduit celebrates transformation

Last week Panduit invited Energy Management to take part in celebrating the opening of its new world headquarters (WHQ) in Tinley Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Guests from around the world were invited to tour the cutting-edge facility, as well as take part in informing keynote speeches and breakout sessions, much of it centred around sustainability and Panduit’s UPI (Unified Physical Infrastructure) approach. The theme of the 2-day event was “the Nature of Transformation”.

The yellow brick road to innovation
On the flat Illinois prairie plain, Panduit’s new WHQ resembles something from the Land of Oz. With LEED specifications in mind, Panduit and architectural consulting firm Gensler teamed up to design a building with plenty of water- and energy-conserving features. Much of the surrounding landscape, for example, is composed of indigenous prairie flora—unique considering that virtually all of the original Midwestern grassland was eaten up by the plough a century ago. The property also contains a small golf course and is dotted with small reservoirs of water. In the parking lot, there are spaces reserved exclusively for alternative-fuel vehicles.

The interior is of the building is well-lit, with much of the light harnessed from the sun. Panduit was able to achieve this through the use of light shelves with integrated window shades, which helps redistribute sunlight deep into the building. Compared to traditional offices where enclosed office space makes up 90% of workspace and open workspace only 10%, the reverse is true in Panduit’s headquarters, allowing for maximal sunlight and reducing lighting costs.

The building features a “bare-boned” design, revealing conduit and cables--Panduit’s handiwork. Other unique features include a raised floor system, which allows for heating and cooling, data cabling and desktop power. The building also has a “green roof”, a roof top planted with vegetation, which protects the roof from harsh elements and provides the building with insulation. A water reclamation system collects rainwater from the roofs, which treats water for non-potable uses, is projected to save the building 910,000 gallons of water annually.

The Unified Physical Infrastructure (UPI)
Panduit’s WHQ was designed to serve as a living case study of the UPI approach. The UPI-based smart data centre, connected building architecture and the unified operation centre (UOC) were major attractions for guests. All of these features were added to make the building more integrated, easier to operate and smarter.

At first glance, Panduit’s UPI approach to design seems like a complicated concept, however, it’s actually quite simple. In an effort to minimize risk, lower costs and heighten agility, UPI enables organizations—from hospitals to industrial applications—to connect, manage and automate critical systems (i.e. communication, computing, control, power and security). This approach differs markedly from traditional designs where critical systems are “siloed” and operate independent of one another.

“We have really taken up the opportunity to bring all the networks together very early in the design process,” said Darryl Benson, global solutions development manager for Panduit’s connected building solutions. “We refined a lot of our strategy around converged networking so that it allow us to take all the different pathways that cabling takes—all the pieces of the infrastructure from the device to the user, to the telecom infrastructure, and all the way back to the data centre.”

“We looked at a lot different technologies to make the building smarter, giving us a 35% energy savings over a regular building. We’re able to save $0.63 per square foot just by making the building smarter.”

“The Nature of Transformation”
During the opening evening of keynote speeches, Panduit CEO John Caveney said that businesses must transform if they are to survive in a rapidly changing environment. Using the hometown favourite Chicago Blackhawks—recent winners of the Stanley Cup—as an example, he said that “Everything starts with a vision...but in order for this to work, you need plenty of execution.” On the following day, Jim Young, co-founder of Realcomm, spoke about his exploration of high-tech buildings in Asia—an exhausting journey of seven cities and 38 projects—and the pressing need, in North America especially, for buildings that are smarter, more integrated and more efficient.

Panduit and its many business partners in attendance—including Cisco, Rockwell Automation, IBM/Tivoli and Fluke Networks—believe that buildings such as Panduit’s new WHQ will be the norm in the future, not the exception. This makes plenty of sense: As the world’s population grows, natural resources dwindle and countries like China and India industrialize, the demand for smarter, more efficient facilities will only grow.

According to Panduit CTO Jack Tison, Panduit’s UPI is the perfect solution for such future challenges.

“Sustainability and environmental responsibility are good things—Panduit has always been in that operating mode,” said Panduit CTO Jack Tison. “But what’s important now is that being energy-efficient and sustainable are also “green” in terms of dollar-savings. Facilities that deploy these technologies are saving a lot of money...In today’s environment, with energy costs continuing to rise, these things can help your business survive by becoming more sustainable and lowering your costs.”