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Dubuque County Courthouse

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To support its new PoE LED lighting system, Dubuque County needed a reliable, fast-installing category cable that would ensure performance across long distances

Customer

Located in northeast Iowa along the Mississippi River, Dubuque County is known as the point where Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin meet. It’s also one of Iowa’s two original counties, with a growing population of 97,000.

Known for its dedication to historic sites, Dubuque County is a showcase of well-preserved buildings and homes, as well as a revitalized Main Street. Along with a handful of other buildings, its courthouse – built in 1891, featuring Beaux-Arts
architecture – is on the National Register of Historic Places and stands out as a landmark in downtown Dubuque.

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Challenge

To reduce energy costs in the century-old Dubuque County Courthouse, Facilities Superintendent Chris Soeder was investigating potential improvements that would provide financial savings while also ensuring that the building’s historic nature could be preserved. “I average more than $6,000 a month for our electric bill,” says Soeder, “and my goal was to decrease that number significantly.”

At a local technology conference, Soeder attended an educational seminar led by Innovative Lighting on the topic of PoE LED lighting. During this seminar, he learned that, by investing in an intelligent lighting upgrade, the courthouse could experience energy savings of between 15% and 20%.

To support the new lighting system, however, Dubuque County needed a reliable category cable that would ensure performance across long distances. “Getting wires from point A to point B is sometimes rather convoluted,” explains Soeder. “The cable may go up a floor and back down again just to get to a specific location in the building. We also have walls that are 42 inches thick. In those cases, we try to find an alternate route, which may require longer runs.”

Because the courthouse doesn’t close down during the week, the installation timeline was very tight – with no room for delays or setbacks. Work could be done on weekends only, so they needed cabling and connectivity that would install quickly and easily.

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Discovery

As Nathan Gilmore, Dubuque County IT Superintendent, points out, there are very few things that can immediately be eliminated as the root cause of a problem when troubleshooting in the IT world. One of the few areas where this is possible, however, is with the cabling system.

The ability to rule out the cabling system as a point of failure was crucial to Gilmore. “It’s worth doing cable right,” he says. “Then, if a problem arises, you can cross it off your list and focus on the software, appliance or switch instead. If you aren’t confident in your cable, you’ll never be able to solve any problems, whether they involve latency, disconnects, performance or data corruption issues.”

Gilmore was already familiar and comfortable with the performance of Belden cabling and connectivity; once it was determined that the courthouse’s intelligent lighting upgrade was moving forward, he knew that Belden would be Dubuque
County’s cabling and connectivity partner. “I didn’t need to be sold on Belden to support the lighting system,” he explains. “I was confident in pursuing that partnership. I know the product line is rock solid.”

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Solution

Several Belden solutions were used to support Innovative Lighting’s GENISYS lighting system, which utilizes a node-centric design and IntelliDrive (the node). Power for the PoE LED system comes from a switch; from that switch, category cables are run to the IntelliDrive, which can support up to eight devices. All fixtures, control components and third-party devices connect to the IntelliDrive as well.

Belden Small-Diameter 10GXS Category 6A Cables were used to ensure robust performance and a reliable network for the lighting system. The cable’s size allows for up to 25% space and weight savings; its small bend radius accommodates tight spaces, making it ideal for the historic courthouse installation. The cable also supported the project’s tight schedule with its easy-to-separate pairs and easy-to-remove barrier tape. “This Category 6A cable is giving us the quality we need to make those longer distances,” says Soeder.

From start to finish, the combination of GENISYS and Belden solutions led to a much faster installation. With a traditional lighting system, installers would have needed to run conduit, place junction boxes, pull 12 AWG wire, etc. Instead, this simple, low-voltage install involved removing the existing fixture, removing the existing 110v wiring, installing the new fixture and the IntelliDrive, and running Belden Category 6A cable. “It takes about one day for us to hang all the hardware in the ceiling. After that, it’s a matter of plug and play,”
says Soeder.

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Belden’s new REVConnect Connectivity System was launched halfway through the project; once it became available, it was used to simplify termination. Through a universal termination core, REVConnect utilizes a single termination method for all Category 5e, Category 6 and Category 6A RJ45 connections. The result is termination time savings of between 30% and 60%.

After his experiences with REVConnect, Gilmore plans to update the Dubuque County Specification General Requirement for Division 27 to include it as the default standard moving forward.
Belden cabinets and hardware were also used throughout the courthouse project.

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Results

With Belden’s solutions supporting the PoE LED lighting system, the Dubuque County team is confident that, if problems ever arise in the future, the cabling system can be eliminated as a possible failure point.

Removing the need for conduit, wire and junction boxes as part of its intelligent lighting upgrade, the use of Innovative Lighting’s GENISYS system helped Belden and Dubuque County speed up installation so the courthouse could remain functional during the week.

Now that the building’s lighting system is managed over the network, Gilmore and Soeder say they’ve freed up time to focus on other tasks and no longer have to worry about lighting system management and troubleshooting.

“When you consider manpower, it’s definitely easier and faster. You don’t need a third person to manage software and operation of the system, which, to me, is worth its weight in gold,” says Soeder. “We can either carry a laptop with us or log into the system from a computer and see what’s going on. It makes it so much easier to monitor and maintain the system, as well as watch how much electricity we’re using.”

With Belden’s solutions supporting the PoE LED lighting system, the Dubuque County team is confident that, if problems arise in the future, the cabling system can be eliminated as a possible failure point.

In addition to lower energy bills, the lighting system also supports Dubuque County’s ongoing commitment to sustainability: It reduces overall environmental impact by eliminating the need for a metallic infrastructure and utilizing fixtures that are 100% recyclable.

“When you tell most people in charge of networks that you’re going to add hundreds of nodes to run IT-based lights – and they’re going to run over your network – it’s exciting and concerning because we’re adding hundreds of new things to our networks,” says Gilmore. “But this project went smoothly and everything is fine. I wouldn’t be shocked if we end up moving other traditional mechanical systems to the network now that we know we can run electricity so easily and safely.”

Thanks to the high performance and ease of installation created by combining Innovative Lighting and Belden solutions, the Dubuque County team plans to deploy the same solution in its new roads and maintenance facility, which is currently under construction.

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