PENN 1 - Cisco

PENN 1 - Smart Building Technology

The Future is Here: Smart, Hybrid Workspaces That Go Far Beyond Productivity

Technology is revolutionizing disciplines, including architecture and design, making it possible to construct smart buildings that can vastly improve the quality of life both at home and at work. For years, companies like Cisco have been evolving and expanding the way they can positively impact people and the planet and we are proud to partner with Cisco in their vision for smart building technology: PENN 1 in New York City.

Mecho has been at the forefront of the commercial window shade industry for more than 50 years. We invented the solar shade product category and later designed a revolutionary, automated software-control system, SolarTrac, that reduces the reliance on electrical lighting, maximizes the use of daylight and provides for a comfortable work environment.

Cisco Lobby

Penn 1, New York

Project Goals

Cisco has been crafting the fundamental technology to fuel their smart building solutions for over a decade. They leveraged their partnership with Mecho to take an integrated approach and provide a solution that simplifies building systems management, reduces operational costs and enables an effective hybrid work environment.

This project kicked off in 2019 and had four key goals in mind:
  • Hybrid Workspaces: Mixed in-office and remote work to offer flexibility and support employees.
  • Sustainability: Pursuit of global and environmental sustainability.
  • Health and Wellness: Facilitates mental and social well-being.
  • Digitizing Real Estate: Interoperable building systems reducing costs optimizing building experience.
Penn 1 Plaza, New York

Penn 1, New York

Project Solutions

Instead of taking the approach that looks at each of the building’s systems as individual elements, Mecho has helped enable Cisco to integrate critical building system components (including lighting, shades, HVAC) to operate as a unified whole. The result: The hybrid office of the future (I.e., smart building) that is PENN 1 is built on a PoE (power over ethernet) platform.

What is PoE?

SolarTrac, Mecho’s state-of-the-art, scalable software solution for shade automation, was deployed to manage the position of the shades. Mecho ElectroShades incorporating the iQ2-DC motor were utilized for heavy lifting power and quiet operations, with multiple coupled shades being driven by a single motor. Solartrac was not just the solution for their current vision, but also the future vision due to our ability to seamlessly update software and quick reconfiguration capabilities.

This allows Cisco and building owners to focus more on what their buildings can do FOR their occupants rather than what the occupants can do with the building. We partnered with Cisco and worked alongside architects, engineers, and various technology integrators to bring this project to life. The result: a remarkable example of the “hybrid office of the future”, PENN 1.

Take Your First Step Towards a Smart Building

Penn 1 Plaza, New York

Penn 1, New York

Project Results

Mecho’s open Application Programming Interface (API) allowed various other systems in the building to seamlessly override shades in conference rooms when required. This open API allowed Cisco to develop direct integration alleviating the need for room AV controllers saving a total of $200,000.


Let’s take a closer look at how Mecho was able to play a pivotal role in achieving each goal that was set for this project:


Hybrid Workspace
The building’s occupants are the most important factor - maximizing natural daylight without impacting thermal comfort helps increase productivity and well-being. The PENN 1 workplace is now 70% ‘we’ space and 30% ‘me’ space, as there was a major emphasis on real estate compression (eliminating/optimizing under utilized space) and the need to create a welcoming and efficient environment throughout every inch of the office.


Mecho’s shade system features eco-friendly fabric and quiet, low-voltage motors. Backed by SolarTrac, it reduces HVAC and lighting use and overall power consumption, and cost. And because it’s connected to PoE and driven by APIs, it helped minimize PENN 1’s cabling, complexity, and carbon footprint. Smart buildings equipped with Mecho PoE integration and DC power to devices over Ethernet cabling, enabled Cisco to reduce the need for separate power supplies and outlets.

In summary, Cisco leveraged automation, PoE, and mindful product selection to reduce power consumption by 40% in the same space!


Health and Wellness
Mecho was able to dramatically improve workplace comfort through allowing access to natural daylight and views, while maintaining thermal and visual comfort for the occupants. Visual comfort was maintained by monitoring the brightness of the sky using Mecho wireless, battery-less daylight sensors ensuring that the shades are deployed to the appropriate positions.


Digitizing Real Estate
The patented SolarTrac system provided by Mecho is a pivotal component in utilizing these occupancy data points for items such as thermal comfort. PENN 1 has 44,000 square feet of usable space and includes 5,000 user data points throughout 92 collaboration zones.


What is Power over Ethernet (PoE)?

PoE technology combines Ethernet data/communications and power over a single CAT5/CAT6 network cable. It provides a low voltage infrastructure that facilitates building system sensors and equipment for a ubiquitous wiring approach throughout the building.

With increases in Cisco port capacity, which enables integration of higher power devices and better overall PoE system economics, PoE adoption is growing rapidly.

Smart building technology with PoE enables:

  • Data gathering and communications between all devices
  • A foundation for inter-operability across all devices
  • Increased efficiency throughout the building
  • More cost-effective network infrastructure
  • Healthier and more productive work environments
  • Lower greenhouse gas emissions

Save with PoE

Power Over Ethernet can save you 30% on Capex cost on any given project where you would otherwise have to call a licensed electrician to pull a permit just to put an outlet somewhere so you can hang a camera. Even better, because PoE runs on low voltage power (less than 56 volts) you can safely do the work yourself.

Take Your First Step Towards a Smart Building