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Integrating sustainability as a solution for protecting people, places and the planet

Integrating sustainability as a solution for protecting people, places and the planet

In today's built environment—be it new construction or retrofit—project teams are increasingly designing toward specific goals for their buildings. A major trend within these goals is sustainability. In addition to seeking out ways to achieve LEED certification or meeting Living Building Challenge standards, this trend looks to ensure a building is differentiated by considering its impact on the wellness, economics, and social justice of the people and the planet.

Put quite simply, progressive buildings that are healthy and efficient are becoming an expectation rather than an exception.

For security integrators, this trend is critical to consider moving forward. Along with the goal of providing safe and secure openings and access control, taking a consultative approach to a building's needs—and being prepared to meet those needs—is critical to winning business.


The first step is to seek out manufacturers of products who support sustainability through deliberate product design and a commitment to transparency in the value chain, manufacturing process, and sourcing of product ingredients. These practices are what enable manufacturers to achieve two types of industry documents in declaring sustainable design:

• Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) independently verify a product's LCA (life cycle assessment) as a way to quantify the product's environmental impact.

• Declare labels provide accurate information on where a product comes from, what a product is made of, and where a product goes at the end of its life. By disclosing product ingredients, Declare labels become valuable for Living Building Challenge projects.

Both types of documents ensure you are working with a manufacturer that is fully committed to the development of sustainable products.

It is equally as important to provide solutions with distinct sustainability benefits such as improved energy efficiency.

In door-dense facilities, the amount of power being drawn by locks, door accessories and access control devices can contribute heavily to the overall energy use of a facility. To mitigate that issue, seek out solutions utilizing new energy-efficient technologies. Both locks and access control options on the market today are drastically reducing power consumption.

Mortise locks are available that reduce energy consumption up to 96 percent compared to traditional solutions. And, as certified by GreenCircle, new power supplies have entered the market that use up to 99 percent less energy than current linear and switching power supplies. And each of these solutions can have an impact on the energy consumption of a building as a whole.


Tracking ingredients, ensuring components that harm the earth are not used in manufacturing and handling the end-of-life of a product effectively is key to the wellness of both the planet and people. The health and sustainability of our eco-system has a direct and causative effect on our health as human beings.

But beyond that chain of cause-and-effect, the products we put into buildings can also directly impact the health of human beings. To that end, Health Product Declarations (HPDs) exist that report the content of a product along with its associated health and other related information.

Also, using products that are dangerous adversely impacts the health of workers in the supply chain; it is an obvious yet not often discussed component of sustainability. And one of the most intriguing and impressive reasons I have heard for why building owners choose to use sustainably constructed products is that they consider it an issue of social justice. Quite simply, the safer we make products, the healthier everyone involved will be.


The kicker to these offerings is that they are typically no more expensive than their predecessors. These are products where the cost is comparable, yet they reduce the electrical draw, provide sustainable construction and improve a building's appeal. This is not just a sustainability offering, but also an economical offering.

Further, for buildings seeking out green building certifications, the benefits of these types of technologies should be considered a component of attractive and good design. As mentioned earlier, sustainable building is now an expectation. This isn't just for building owners, but for both business and residential occupants. An educated and demanding market of renters and members of the workforce are driving the move toward sustainability by owners.

And, as more importance is placed on a product's entire life cycle impact, we have become more aware of what the total cost of ownership could look like for a complete opening. There is now data available to explain how energy efficient access control uses less when installed, but also contributes to a less expensive total cost when we examine installation, labor and materials.

Sustainability is a market differentiator for many verticals, and the ability for integrators to meet these demands easily, quickly and effectively can make a major difference in winning business.

Protecting People, Places and the Planet

When considering security components, the important fact remains: we protect the people and places that matter most. This requires seeking out a manufacturing partner that not only provides sustainable solutions but also specializes in the critical aspect of safety and security.

Further, it requires integrators to focus in on partnerships with clients or potential clients. Listening in a collaborative manner, then offering the solutions that work—or seeking out the solutions that work—is key to providing an end user with a winning installation.

The goal, of course, is to make sure your partnerships are connected across the board. By hearing what an end user wants, you can bring that to a manufacturer and see if they can develop new offerings. And by being in touch with a manufacturer you trust, you can be aware of the new solutions that will change things significantly for the customer.

This is a sentiment across all levels of providing security in the built environment, but when it comes to sustainability it will be critical as it allows you to not just keep up with the trend, but become a leader in it. And from that position, you will be able to help your customers meet their sustainability goals.

Amy Vigneux, is the director, Sustainable Building Solutions, at ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions.


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