Innovative cabling supports converged technology, energy

Design techniques were critical for the nation's largest 'green' building complex.

Nov 1st, 2003
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Following the California energy crisis, which left many in the dark during the summer of 2000, retail electricity prices in Southern California reached all-time highs, prompting companies to investigate the use of energy-efficient solutions. When Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) USA Inc. (TMS— in Torrance, CA needed to expand its campus headquarters, the company adorned its new complex with roof-mounted photovoltaic solar panels.

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The largest "green" building in the nation, the new TMS complex opened officially as part of Earth Day 2003 celebrations.

In designing the structured cabling infrastructure for the new energy-efficient five-building complex, TMS set out to ensure optimum performance for today and consider the needs of the future by strategically designing an advanced multi-system backbone and selecting the right end-to-end solution. Up-front effort and planning resulted in a smooth installation of a quality redundant cabling plant for the new TMS complex.

Energy-efficient solutions

Established in 1957, TMS is the sales, marketing, distribution, and customer-service arm of Toyota and Lexus in the United States. The new 624,000-square-foot building complex brings back to the TMS campus headquarters some 2,000 Toyota associates working in remote office space throughout Torrance. As part of Toyota's Earth Charter guidelines established in 1992, aimed at reducing the company's impact on the environment, TMS designed the complex as a "green" building and pursued gold certification under the rating system of the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

"When we started designing our complex, we looked at what we could do to help the California energy situation," says Mark Yamauchi, TMS facilities operations manager. "We considered California's high cost of electricity, abundance of sun and new utility incentive programs." The TMS complex is the largest ever to receive U.S. Green Building Council LEED Gold Level Certification.

The complex is made up of five buildings and features a widespread use of recycled materials that include reinforced steel made primarily from recycled automobiles, highly efficient insulation, and a special pipeline that supplies recycled water for cooling, landscaping, and restroom flushing. The photovoltaic solar panels on the building's rooftop provide about 20% of the base building electricity load.

"Any electricity that we don't use from the solar panels gets fed back into the utility grid to serve the surrounding community," says Yamauchi. "On a bright sunny weekend, when no one's in the building, we expect to see our electric utility meter turning backwards." The solar panels generate enough electricity during the day to power more than 500 homes, greatly reducing local demand and power-plant emissions during peak hours.

"The solar panels are also connected to the LAN to capture information through a data-acquisition system. By connecting the solar panels to the network, we are able to gather the data we need to monitor the effectiveness of the system," explains Yamauchi. "Our new complex is a pilot project for this solar technology. If it proves to be effective, we plan to adopt it at other locations."

Additionally, the LAN structured cabling supports an Energy 1st Utilities Monitoring System that collects data and feeds it to a remote site via the Internet to analyze TMS consumption of all utilities—including electricity, water, and natural gas.

In addition to the LEED certification, Turner Construction Company (, the general contractor that managed the complex's construction, was awarded Star Status in acknowledgement of an exemplary safety program at the construction site under the California Voluntary Protection Program of the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This was the first time the award was presented to a construction company in the program'ís 20-year history.

Advanced multisystem backbone

The TMS headquarters campus has grown considerably over the past two decades, and the cabling has evolved from an IBM Type II Token Ring environment to Gigabit Ethernet and Category 5e. Although TMS information technology (IT) staff had the expertise to design the structured cabling to support the new complex, they called on the assistance of Konsortum 1 (, a California-based design team specializing in electrical engineering and structured cabling.

By connecting the TMS complex's solar panels to the network, data can be gathered to monitor the effectiveness of the solar energy system.
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"This is one of the largest projects we've ever done," says Tim Fitzpatrick, manager of LAN infrastructure for TMS. "When we looked at the amount of time and effort involved, it made sense for us to work together with Konsortum 1 to come up with the technical specs and put the project out for bid."

Konsortum 1 began by updating all TMS specifications to current industry standards, from how the LAN structured cabling is installed and labeled to establishing adequate pathways and rack layouts in the telecommunications rooms (TRs). They then tackled the challenge of designing a conduit system and optical-fiber backbone for the complex to support all premise systems—including data, security, paging, HVAC, lighting control, and life safety.

Konsortum 1 established a ring of conduit around the entire TMS headquarters campus, allowing diverse paths between each building. To connect the new complex to the ring of conduit, large manholes were located outside of the two main cable rooms. "In the two main cable rooms, a large backboard contains loop and interbuilding conduit terminations at wall-mounted fiber patch panels," explains Ron Zawadzki, RCDD, of Konsortum 1. "These are basically the special-systems crossconnects that tie everything back to the rest of the campus and to first-floor core electrical rooms in each of the complex's five buildings."

Zawadzki adds, "The two main cable rooms act as a pass-through for the LAN backbone. The cable rooms are adjacent to the complex's main distribution frames that house the LAN networking and PBX equipment and the voice crossconnect." The two main cable rooms and core electrical rooms in each of the five buildings house special-system electronics, as well as copper-cable fuse protection and grounding.

Designing the conduit layout was an enormous challenge for TMS and Konsortum 1, requiring months of strategic planning and several design iterations. "When designing the conduit, we kept in mind that if Toyota decided to lease one of the buildings in the new complex, we could segregate it at a moment's notice without a great deal of construction," says Fitzpatrick. "We looked at every scenario and strategically placed closets so they could become isolated, self-sufficient main distribution frames."

The looped underground conduit and manholes enable each building of the complex to be a standalone building.

Although they share the same conduit, the LAN and special systems for the new complex each use dedicated fiber strands. Konsortum 1, TMS' IT team, and the TMS facilities group worked together to determine the type and amount of fiber based on each system topology. "The special systems use anywhere from two to four fiber pairs that are purposely segregated from the fiber backbone of the LAN," says Zawadzki. "Fully integrating the data and special systems can create too many maintenance and operations issues. At TMS, the various systems share the conduit, but they are segregated so that IT and facility staffs do not risk accidentally unplugging each other's systems."

According to Zawadzki, a structured cabling design for all systems means overall cost savings, consistency, easier maintenance, and future-readiness. "If you're already pulling fiber, adding extra strands for other systems does not add a lot of extra cost," says Zawadzki. "It actually saves on labor in the long run." But implementing this type of system is not without challenges. "You must have overall expertise of the various systems or ask questions regarding each system very early in the process," says Zawadzki. "While you need a lot more up-front planning and effort on the design end, a structured cabling approach more than makes up for it on the installation, maintenance, and operability side."

Selecting an end-to-end solution

Other areas of the TMS headquarters already had a large installed base of AMP Netconnect ( premise cabling solutions for the LAN infrastructure, and TMS had an existing relationship with cabling contractor WP Electric & Communications Inc. Despite existing products and relationships, Konsortum 1 set out to help TMS select an end-to-end solution for the new complex that offered the best performance and pricing.

"Toyota is very open-minded and Konsortum 1 is leery of handing a job to someone based solely on existing products and relationships," says Zawadzki. "Sending a project out to bid to several contractors and vendors is our way of checking if something can be done better at a lower cost."

TMS and Konsortum 1 drafted a checklist of installation and quality-assurance methods required for contractors bidding on the project. "The checklist is what we used to select the best bid," says Fitzpatrick. "It was not based on relationships at all." As the incumbent contractor for TMS since 1983, WP Electric and Communications was strategic in bidding on the new complex project. Even though WP, the AMP Netconnect group of Tyco Electronics, and Toyota have been working together for years, WP still needed to present the best total solution at the most competitive pricing possible during the bidding process.

Following the bidding process and cost analysis, which included a total of seven contractors and three separate vendor solutions, WP and an AMP Netconnect cabling solution were selected. "We're in this for the long-term relationship and Toyota knows we're honest and fair," says Tim Evington, project manager for WP Electric and Communications. Although other solutions performed well, the AMP Netconnect cabling solution proposed by WP offered the best price and reliability for TMS. In addition, as an AMP-authorized Netconnect Design and Installation (ND+I) contractor, WP is able to offer a 25-year performance warranty.

A regional AMP Netconnect system applications engineer made frequent site visits, ensuring correct installation and performance of the cabling products. "I went on location at strategic times during the installation to review anything that might not meet our standards or lead to a performance issue down the road," says Alan Barlow, RCDD, of AMP Netconnect. "I looked for proper cable support and clearances, avoidance of EMI and heat sources, bend radius, management of cable in the TR and at the workstation, proper termination practices, and proper testing."

The new Toyota Motor Sales complex is connected to the rest of the campus via 60 strands of multimode fiber, 12 strands of singlemode fiber, and a 900-pair Category 3 UTP for the PBX system.
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Four AMP Netconnect systems application engineers located across the country assist customers with design and installation issues, as well as provide training, technical support, and technical presentations on industry standards and product information. "I'll continue to be available to Toyota to assist them with any issues as they move forward," says Barlow.

A redundant plan

The LAN infrastructure was designed as a quality redundant system with singlemode fiber and extra conduit runs installed for future needs. The new complex is connected to the rest of the TMS campus headquarters via 60 strands of multimode fiber, 12 strands of singlemode fiber, and a 900-pair Category 3 UTP for the PBX system. All these cables run through the underground conduit from an existing main crossconnect to the two main crossconnects in the new complex.

To create a redundant system, 24 strands of fiber run to each of the 28 TRs from the two main crossconnects, and the two main crossconnects are connected to each other as well. "Our call center located in the new complex handles the main Toyota toll-free customer number, and they need to be up and running no matter what," says Fitzpatrick. "That's why redundancy is very important. With the IP-based traffic and redundant cabling design, there are always two legs that the data can travel down-if it doesnít work one way, it gets rerouted the other way." In addition to a redundant cabling design, TMS utilizes state-of-the-art generators and uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) to keep everything up and running.

In the main crossconnects and TRs, the optical-fiber cable is terminated via AMP Netconnect ST-type connectors and 72-port rack-mountable fiber enclosures. The AMP Netconnect enhanced Category 5e data cables terminate onto 48-port patch panels mounted onto 7-foot open relay racks. The enhanced Category 5e voice cables terminate onto 110 block crossconnects in each of the TRs.

"Considering the volume of people moving into the new complex, we chose Category 5e because the Category 6 specification had not yet been ratified when we started designing the project," Fitzpatrick explains.

From the TRs, enhanced Category 5e plenum cable goes out to approximately 4,000 network drops for workstations and offices, as well as for the energy-efficient solar panels and utilities-monitoring system. The cable is terminated onto AMP Netconnect Category 5e RJ-45 and RJ-11 110 connect jacks, providing two data connections and one voice connection at each location. "We can get 200 Mbits/sec to the desktop using full duplex, which is plenty for the applications we're using," says Fitzpatrick. "For a few departments we utilize higher-end equipment for faster speeds, but the Category 5e cabling can support it."

As the backbone cabling, telecom rooms, and hard offices were installed, TMS staff moved into the building in stages beginning in February of this year. "We worked in phases installing the workstation cabling in the ceiling, and then returned as modular systems furniture was installed to drop, route, and terminate the cables within the panels," says Evington of WP Electric & Communications. "Implementation of a project of this magnitude could pose a problem for many contractors, but having dedicated and highly qualified data technicians on the job made the project run very smoothly."

The complex had its official grand opening on Earth Day-April 22. Terminations at the workstations were completed and all staff moved in by September.

AMP Netconnect enhanced Category 5e data cables terminate onto 48-port patch panels mounted onto 7-foot open relay racks. The enhanced Category 5e voice cables terminate onto 110 block crossconnects in each of the TRs.
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In addition to servicing the TMS campus headquarters in Torrance, WP Electric & Communications assists with the maintenance and installation of cabling infrastructure at TMS regional offices nationwide, where enhanced Category 5e solutions are now the standard. "Now that all the workstations are installed at the new TMS complex, we hope to participate in the upgrade of other buildings at the headquarters campus and across the nation," says Evington. "The technology of the cabling solution will meet Toyota's needs for at least another 10 years, and during that time, we'll primarily be supporting equipment upgrades and MACs."

Up-front effort pays off

Thanks to the strategic planning and up-front work during the design process, the cabling installation for the several systems at the TMS new complex was completed with no significant problems or challenges along the way. "The huge amount of effort up front paid off in the end and resulted in clear expectations and an extremely smooth installation," says Fitzpatrick. "Almost every scenario that came up was easily cleared by looking at the plans." TMS personnel worked on the planning of the new complex for more than three years prior to the installation.

Diligence and anticipation on the part of WP also meant fewer modifications throughout the installation. WP has been with Toyota for many years, understands how the customer operates, and anticipates the next steps.

"When we're pulling cable, we take everything into consideration to reduce change orders and, hopefully, save Toyota from having to make too many future moves, adds, and changes," says Evington.

Jim Roche is vice president of WP Electric and Communications (

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