When people think about green building, it’s a safe bet that energy-efficient access control isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, in the effort to make facilities as green as possible, every single area where energy can be conserved must be addressed— and that includes a building’s access control system.
As a security director you’re aware that every other aspect of building construction is becoming greener—lighting, HVAC systems, insulation and windows to name a few examples. Now it’s time for security systems to catch up. This is especially true in light of the fact that environmentally friendly building is becoming a mandated necessity.
Whether you’re upgrading an existing system or installing a new one, what factors are involved and what questions should you be asking?
Power Consumption and EPDs
Regardless of device, whether it’s an electronic lock, request-to-exit (REX) sensor, electric strike or other hardware, a fundamental consideration is the amount of power the device uses. When evaluating different products, be sure to ask the integrator or manufacturer to explain the differences in power consumption between different products or technologies.
Keep in mind that although one product might cost more than another out of the box, the initial difference in cost between the two might become insignificant when comparing the overall difference in life cycle cost over a 30-year period and how much energy each product consumes. On the other hand, long-term product costs or savings can differ dramatically. For example, one mortise lock on the market is up to 96 percent more energy-efficient than other types and uses about 0.24 watts of power compared to about 6 watts for older solenoid types. It also requires fewer power supplies in a given installation and generates less heat, further reducing energy consumption. At 10 cents per kilowatt-hour in a facility with 1,000 doors that adds up to more than $5,000 in annual savings.
Another indicator of an electronic access control product’s environmental impact is its Environmental Product Declaration, or EPD. An EPD is a verified document that provides information about the environmental impact of a product or system, based on life cycle assessment (LCA) and other relevant information such as manufacturing processes, materials content, energy use and efficiency, and product end of life policies. Information about EPDs including a downloadable product database is available at www.environdec.com. For security directors and anyone involved in green building, the site is an invaluable resource for comparing products.
Standards and Regulatory Requirements
Meeting green building requirements means meeting federal, state and local regulations, which are becoming more prevalent every year. Many U.S. federal agencies and state and local governments already require or reward LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for projects, and no detail, including more efficient EAC implementation, is too small in working towards LEED and GBI (Green Building Initiative) certification.
Looking at the big picture, the ultimate green goal is to achieve a “net zero” building, where the total amount of energy a building uses is equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site. To name one particularly urgent example: Executive Order 13514 mandates that at least 15 percent of existing federal buildings and leases meet Energy Efficiency Guiding Principles by 2015 with a goal of all new federal buildings achieving net zero status by 2030.
The more you are on top of these standards and requirements, the better prepared you’ll be to meet current and future mandates.
Make The Most of What You Have—But Look For Improvement
When was the last time you updated or even looked at your current system’s access control specifications? Now is the time to review your existing installation from top to bottom. There’s a strong possibility that you can get greater efficiency out of every element of your security system, from reducing thermal and air leakage by implementing better control of door openings to making better use of Power over Ethernet (PoE) connectivity, which uses less energy than conventional wired connections.
Even if you’ve updated your specification within the last year, you should still reevaluate it now, since developments in green access control are changing rapidly. If you don’t look at what’s going on in the industry right now, you could be missing out on opportunities for significant energy—and cost—savings.
While the need for more energy-efficient access control is more compelling than ever, never compromise the integrity of your security system in the quest to go green. In truth, today’s green security products and top performance go hand in hand, and you can have both. To accomplish this goal, it’s essential to team with an integrator who is on top of the latest developments in green access control, understands how access control interfaces with other aspects of a building’s IT, HVAC and other systems – and above all, is there to help security directors like yourself achieve greater overall energy efficiency in your facility.
Aaron Smith, LEED AP BD+C, is director of Sustainable Building Solutions for ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions