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PoE Shades and the First “Zero Emissions” Hotel

PowerShades helps Hotel Marcel set new standards for sustainability.

When the Hotel Marcel opened in New Haven, Conn., in May 2022, the building itself was already iconic. The hotel designer, Marcel Breuer, is one of the 20th century’s most influential furniture designers and architects, and the former headquarters for Armstrong Rubber and Pirelli was recognized by New Haven visitors and residents as a brutalist architecture masterpiece.

But since buying the building and working to convert it to a hotel, architect and developer Bruce Becker and his firm have been committed to making the building famous for something else entirely. Today the Hotel Marcel is recognized as an icon of sustainability, and it is the nation’s first “Zero Emissions” hotel.

“With the climate crisis and continued use of fossil fuels posing an existential threat to humanity, I felt an obligation to build a building that can serve as a model for environmental sustainability,” Becker shared in a statement. “The question should not be why are we doing this, but why isn’t everyone else?”

Hotel Marcel - Guest Room- PowerShades

There are a number of ways in which Hotel Marcel is working to put its climate-first approach into action. The hotel, which was recognized the U.S. Green Building Council for meeting the highest standards of energy and environmental design, is powered entirely by solar electricity. The hotel operates completely independent of fossil fuels, from heating and cooling to the laundry and kitchen. And the hotel features an array of advanced technologies like DC low-voltage lighting and Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) automated shades.

Guests Get Comfortable with PowerShades

Automated True PoE shades from Joplin, Mo.-based PowerShades have permanently checked into the Hotel Marcel’s 165 guest rooms as well as some of the hotel’s 9000 square feet of meeting rooms. All told, there are 468 dual shades (468 blackout shades and 468 solar) as well as 14 single blackouts and 14 single solar shades for a total of 964 PoE motors.

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“We selected PowerShades,” Becker says, “because their automated shades feature the most developed PoE capabilities, and they were also the best fit for our vision of bringing beauty, functionality, and sustainability to every room in the hotel. The decision to go with PowerShades has proven to be a great one, both for the hotel and its mission as well as our guests.”

PowerShades’ True PoE shades offer all the benefits of the company’s RF automated product, along with additional advantages. With PoE automated shades, a single Cat5 cable provides both power and communications, so there is no proprietary hard wiring necessary. Plus the PoE motor is low voltage (under 50V AC), so it doesn’t require a licensed electrician. And with power coming from a single, central source, more information can be transferred on the network cable while improving reliability over traditional RF solutions.

The shades in each guest room are controllable by guests in two locations: a touchscreen located near the room entrance and bedside buttons. The shades can also be controlled by hotel staff and housekeeping who can program the shades in guest rooms and meeting rooms to take advantage of the warmth of the sun during colder days and keep rooms cool by lowering the blackout shades during the heat of the summer. If desired, hotel staff can pre-program the shades to open and close at set times, including check-in and check-out.

Simply Efficient Technology

According to Becker, the push-button ease of use of the PoE automated shades is something that Hotel Marcel guests can quickly learn to love.

“People can get overwhelmed with technology or frustrated by complicated instructions,” Becker says. “So it’s great that with PowerShades, Hotel Marcel is able to keep the operation of the automated shades simple and intuitive for our guests. The push-button preset for the morning or evening can easily be controlled by guests — so the shades can go up at a desired time to let the sunshine in, and the blackout shades can be lowered after sunset for privacy and maximum darkness for better sleeping.”

Becker also appreciates the time and labor/cost savings brought about by PowerShades’ efficient operation. “Over time, Hotel Marcel is seeing a substantial savings in housekeeping labor,” he says. “Some corner suites have as many as 11 windows. With the synchronized control of the shades, housekeeping staff don’t have to walk to each individual shade to raise or lower them. Instead, they can operate the shades all at once with a single push of a button.

“It is likely that the housekeeping labor savings we’re seeing from this benefit has already paid for the initial cost of going from manual to automated shades.”

Simplicity From the Start

The installation of the True PoE automated shades was far easier than one might expect when working with such an advanced technology. Even installing manual shades can sometimes be a challenge, but working with the PowerShades team took the stress out of the installation process.

“Installation of the shades could have been tricky,” Becker says. “The shades had to be installed in a concealed pocket at the head of the window. But the PowerShades team was totally up to the challenge, and the installation went very smoothly.”

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Servicing the shades has also been a breeze — especially as they require minimal service except for some expected minor maintenance.

“Since we opened last year, the light-blocking and light-filtering PowerShades have proven to be the right choice for Hotel Marcel,” Becker says. “The lighting and temperature control combined with the reduced energy consumption of the PowerShades solution have been an ideal match for a hotel that’s setting new standards for sustainability.

“We wouldn’t hesitate to purchase PowerShades True PoE shades for future developments. In fact, I’d even buy PowerShades for my own home when I’m ready to upgrade my window treatments.”