Thumbs up on green security
While common steps to a greener building usually focus on reducing energy consumption, keeping an eye on what is environmentally friendly is not limited to this aspect of building construction. Globally conscious design can be reflected throughout a building – including in its security products.
“With every part of a building that we touch, we are attempting to ensure that we follow the guidelines of the Green Building Council,” says Helen Rose, Director of Business Development for Pemko Manufacturing Company and head of ASSA ABLOY Americas Division’s newly formed Green Council.
The Green Building Council administers the popular Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. The system encourages and accelerates global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices through the creation and implementation of universally understood and accepted tools and performance criteria.
LEED leads the way
Widely applied in the US, LEED has expanded to more than 40 countries since it was founded in 1994. Most European countries have implemented programs domestically, for example BASTA in Sweden and Germany’s DGNB (German Association for Sustainable Building).
Rose sees that effects of LEED, and of the environmental movement as a whole, are beginning to be reflected in building standards across the US. “This ‘greeness,’ for lack of a better term, is just everywhere. You can’t escape it. And we are embracing it.”
When it comes to the greenness of security products, such as doors, locks and door closers, the products should be examined holistically, Rose says. “Going green is not just about where you ship your product from, or the materials it’s made of. It is about the whole life cycle of that product,” she explains.
“When trying to find the most green security products, we can ask many questions. We can look at the raw components; at how the product is transported; how the product holds up in its life cycle; and what can be done with it at the end of that life cycle.”
Because a program such as LEED certification bases its points system on the number of dollars that go into a project, security products, such as doors, locks and closing hardware – which typically account for less than 2% of a new building’s construction costs – usually don’t receive as much attention as some of the big-ticket, higher volume building items, such as roofing, steel, glass and concrete.
“But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t campaign to try to make door hardware and other security products as green as possible,” says Scott Sabatini, Senior Regional Specification Consultant for ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions in the United States.
It is often in the manufacturing of products where unnecessary waste can be eliminated, says Sabatini, including unnecessary packaging. “In the manufacturing process, you can look at what your product, a door frame, for example, is made of,” he says. “If it’s metal, where does the metal come from? What is its recycled content?”
When looking at products made of wood, manufacturers can rely on non-deforestation products, whereby the trees used are grown specifically for a manufacturing purpose. This means that the rainforest is not being stripped to manufacture doors.
The goal is to utilize products that use fewer solvents and components that are harmful for the earth, Sabatini says. “This means water-based versus any type of oil-based products. The entire process, right down to the welding and the paints, should all have low volatile organic compounds (VOCs),” he says.
One environmentally friendly product is the new GRAHAM Thermal Fused door, or artificial door skin (See related article). Designed to look like real wood, these laminate skins don’t deplete natural resources and also increase the life cycle of the product. “Some people forget that another big part of sustainability is to achieve a healthier working or living environment,” says Sabatini. “Some products will emit gasses or release organic compounds into the air. We’re trying to reduce and eliminate that.”
Plastic laminate faces on doors, for example, will not give off harmful VOCs like some painted or stained finishes can do if they are cleaned with antimicrobial cleansers.
Green questions also arise when a product comes to the end of its life cycle. Designing products that can be repurposed or recycled is an important step toward sustainability, says Helen Rose. “Let’s say a building usage has changed and the product – door locks, for example – need to be replaced. What do you do with the old product? Do you just throw it in the landfill? Do you melt it down? Or do manufacturers try to take it back and rework it?”
Sabatini adds that being environmentally friendly doesn’t mean compromising security features. “None of these green initiatives, either in the manufacturing process or elsewhere, can compromise standards,” he says. “And there’s no fear of that, because products go through very stringent testing procedures. So it is possible to be green and efficient at the same time.”
Rose is pleased that the continuing push toward greener building can include security items. “That’s why we developed our Green Council,” she says. “Sustainability can go beyond looking at a building’s energy efficiency – and we know we can do more.”