DAS In Action: ‘Green’ buildings at odds with RF propogation

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ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Green building designs are good for the environment and benefit society, but they can wreak havoc on cellular signals, panelists agreed during an educational session that was part of PCIA’s DAS Forum “DAS In Action: Capital View” event here earlier this week.
LEED (Leadership in Envionmental Engineering Design) certification is a designation given to buildings that meet certain environmental characteristics, said Christoper Fisher, a partner at Cuddy & Fisher L.L.P. “LEED benefits everyone,” Fisher noted, adding that fewer sick days are associated with people who work in LEED-certified buildings. The criteria for LEED certification is extremely broad, ranging from the type of construction materials used to whether the building is located near a public transportation stop. Low e glass (low emissivity) makes windows more energy efficient but are good at stopping wireless signals from penetrating into buildings. “All of these things are very good at blocking RF,” Fisher said. The two macro trends of green buildings and wireless are on a collision course with each other, he added.
In fact, technology has failed to become a big part in getting a building LEED certified, despite whether the technology used can be good for the environment, said Darren Vican, with RTKL Associates Inc., a full-service architectural services company. Technology only accounts for one point in a 47-point certification process.
Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) are often used inside LEED-certified buildings to help get wireless coverage deep inside the building. Public-safety also uses in-building systems to get coverage deep into complexes, said Bob Butchko, a partner at Lord & Co. Technologies Inc., which installs in-building wireless systems. California was among the first states to require that new buildings have in-building wireless systems for emergency responders. The city of Burbank wrote the mandate into its building codes in 1991. Initially, companies complained about it, like they did mandatory sprinkler systems, but today it is an accepted prodecure and built into the cost of the system.
Some of those public-safety in-building wireless communications systems can ride on top of a commercial DAS deployment, Butchko said, but it depends on who is paying for the system. Public-safety personnel would like their own network, but financial concerns also mean the commercial system and the public-safety network share the same infrastructure.

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About Author

Tracy Ford

Former Associate Publisher and Executive Editor, RCR Wireless News
Currently HetNet Forum Director
703-535-7459 [email protected]
Ford has spent more than two decades covering the rapidly changing wireless industry, tracking its changes as it grew from a voice-centric marketplace to the dynamic data-intensive industry it is today. She started her technology journalism career at RCR Wireless News, and has held a number of titles there, including associate publisher and executive editor. She is a winner of the American Society of Business Publication Editors Silver Award, for both trade show and government coverage. A graduate of the Minnesota State University-Moorhead, Ford holds a B.S. degree in Mass Communications with an emphasis on public relations.