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DCD Design Cost Data

How Sustainable Buildings Are Impacted by Access Control

Posted: September 9, 2016 | Tradewinds

By David Corbin, Senior Product Manager, Securitron, ASSA ABLOY

In 2015, it was estimated that – by value – buildings with green attributes made up nearly 50% of nonresidential construction. Sustainable building continues to double every three yearsi. This represents a $150 billion opportunity in the green building market annuallyii. The question then becomes: what exactly is sustainability?

Sustainability can mean different things to different people, but the term itself has a few main attributes:

  • decreased energy consumption
  • decreased material consumption
  • use of healthy materials
  • reusability or recyclability

When constructing a new building, energy consumption is one of the most commonly thought of sustainable attributes. Whether it is considering the efficiency of water, heating and HVAC systems, optimizing the building envelope through the use of insulated doors and thermally broken frames, or increasing the R-value of windows, building systems have been thoroughly optimized to reduce energy consumption … with one major exception: access control.

Access control has historically been thought of as a necessity. Until recently, very little concern has been paid to the energy consumption of an access control system. In fact, access control power supplies have even been exempted from federal regulation regarding standby power consumption. Recently, however, there have been several advances in access control technology that resulted in a significant decrease in the power consumption of access control components.

Advances in electrified lockset actuators have resulted in a decrease in the power drawn from six watts down to 0.18 watts, as shown by the EcoFlex lockset from ASSA ABLOY group brands. One of these brands, Securitron, has released a complementary power supply, EcoPower, that, when paired with the EcoFlex lockset, is GreenCircle Certified to reduce total door power consumption by 99%, compared to traditional solenoid actuated devices.

This represents a savings of over 100kWh per electrified opening a year. Perhaps the best part about this sustainable solution is the fact that the system components are priced reasonably compared to the traditional alternatives. This allows for an immediate payback period on the installation, and all of the system savings go directly to the building owner’s bottom line.

Devices with a lower power draw can use thinner gauge wire as part of the installation cost savings, as well as longer wire runs on the thinner wire, resulting in fewer electrical rooms spaced further apart. This frees up valuable square footage in the building design.

Although the mortise lock is the predominate low-power locking device on the market, it’s only a matter of time before the success of the low-power lockset proliferates into electric strikes, magnetic locks, and electrified exit devices.

IP locks are another example of energy-saving technology that have recently appeared in the access control space. WiFi locks and PoE-based IP locks (Power-Over-Ethernet) can save, not just on the power consumption of the system, but in material usage as well. WiFi locks, by necessity, have to be low powered because of their battery operated nature.

Integrated PoE locks like the SARGENT Profile Series v.S1 combine all-access control functionality into the lock and use existing network cabling for both power and data. This offers the lowest power consumption, with a maximum of seven watts per lock – 50% less than typical PoE installations.

Integrated locks also eliminate the need to run wires to each access controlled door, reducing the amount of material used to install the system. This IP technology in a lockset can eliminate the need for individual door controllers by embedding the capability directly into the lockset and utilizing virtual offsite access control software. This capability requires less access control system energy, material usage, and installation costs.

Sustainability has advanced beyond power and material consumption. Many are calling transparency the new sustainability. The more common forms of transparency in building materials are Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), Health Product Declarations (HPDs), and Declare Labels. An EPD verifies the cradle-to-grave lifecycle of a product and how it affects the environment. This includes not just energy consumed during the service life, but also the energy expended to transport the components of a product to the manufacturing location, and the impact of the product on the environment at end of life. This allows an apples-to-apples comparison of the environmental effect of different building material options.

An HPD provides full disclosure of the potential chemicals of concern in products. The HPD cross references product component materials to a variety of hazardous chemical lists. While building owners are concerned about using low-VoC paint, they may not consider the health effect of installing a door or lock containing VoCs or other known hazardous chemicals. Declare labels are essentially a “nutrition-label” for manufactured products, disclosing all ingredients and transforming the building materials marketplace. All of these create transparency and allow for sustainability to flourish.

Green building trends continue to gain acceptance throughout the world. Architects and building owners are only going to continue to push for building products that reduce power consumption and material usage, and built with healthy materials. The building envelope and major mechanical systems have been headed this way for quite some time. As we continue to grow in net-zero building and even net-positive building concepts, the sustainability of access control products can no longer hide in the electrical closet.