LEED V4 Promotes Whole Building Approach

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has implemented the newest version of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED version 4). This newest version of LEED is a complete update from LEED 2009 and features a host of new requirements that impact our industry.  

As sustainability continues to grow in importance, building and security system designers will become more in need of solutions to meet these increasingly stringent construction guidelines. Generally, these sustainable building rating systems, including LEED v4, promote a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in key areas of environmental and human health: sustainable sites, water efficiency, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and energy and atmosphere. 

These guidelines can be addressed by using high-performance doors, hardware and electronic access control (EAC) systems that impact materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and energy and atmosphere considerations when designing a green building.     

Energy & Atmosphere   

Under the Energy & Atmosphere section, LEED v4 now references the energy guidelines for exterior doors in ASHRAE 90.1-2010. This new version is 18% more stringent than the previous version. U factors for exterior door opening solutions will remain at .7 for climate zones 1-6 and .5 for climate zones 7-8. Allowable operable air infiltration drops the most significantly from .4 cfm/sf2 to .2 cfm/sf2 under operable test conditions. 

LEED v4 uses ASHRAE 90.1-2010 as a starting point, and asks designers to achieve 10%-48% additional savings beyond this guideline. Additionally, National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) or AAMA/WDMA testing will be required and door openings will need labeling, like windows do today. Finally, building envelope commissioning of exterior thermal envelope components, including doors will be included. Energy efficient door opening products like insulated doors and kerf/thermally broken frames all fitted with thresholds and gasketing can help meet these more stringent requirements.  Sealing the building envelope makes sense. It lowers facility heating/air conditioning costs and reduces energy consumption. Since buildings account for roughly 40% of global energy consumption, this one sustainability action can make a big dent in energy demand.   

Speaking of Energy Consumption 

The building interior offers plenty of opportunities to lower energy consumption by using high performance appliances. Just as LED technology is revolutionizing lighting, Power over Ethernet (PoE) locks are drastically reducing the energy consumption of electronic access control systems. 

PoE locks require little electricity and are powered by the same data cables that connect to phones, computers and other devices. Leveraging the existing IP network infrastructure eliminates the need for separate electrical and data wiring, thus streamlining the installation process, reducing costs and components and minimizing power consumption. This also spreads intelligence and security decision making to the lock, creating a safer and more energy efficient building. PoE cameras and telephones are already commonplace in buildings. Access control systems will be next. 

Sustainable buildings provide safety, security, health and productivity for the people who live and work in and around them.

Many facilities still incorporate traditional EAC systems. These platforms typically include several different components in and around the door, including a door position switch, electrified strike, card reader, and lock. These components are all connected to an access control panel and require a low voltage power supply. Many of these products use a significant amount of power while in standby mode and require additional infrastructure and power to operate. 

Today, thanks to the development of PoE devices, performance of an EAC system can be significantly improved by consolidating all of these disparate components into one integrated lockset which uses existing networking cable for both power and data to connect with the access control panel.  

When the total Life Cycle Analysis of a PoE system is considered, the result is less energy and material used during manufacturing, shipping, installation and use. PoE locks are particularly energy efficient compared to other electronic access control (EAC) locking solutions, offering the lowest power consumption at only 2.85 watts per lock, which is 50% less than typical EAC devices. 

Facilities that require a wireless solution can also re-use existing infrastructure by leveraging their current 802.11b/g WiFi network. WiFi access control solutions offer the same reduction of components as PoE solutions but do require batteries as a power source. The use of standard AA batteries allows facilities to make use of widely available recycling programs, while long battery life reduces the number of batteries used during the life of the product. 

When the total Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) of WiFi and PoE systems is considered, the result is less material used during construction which helps the bottom line while also lessening the impact of manufacturing, shipping and installation processes. A security system provider can make sustainability requirements work in their favor by comparing the cost savings an end user can achieve by installing newer access control technologies versus a traditional “around-the-door” installation. These newer technologies can produce an annual cost savings of $18 per door and in a 100 reader system that translates to a savings of $1,800 per year for the end user. 

Reducing Power Consumption with Actuators 

But traditional electronic locking products are not going away. In fact, some are being updated to lessen their energy draw. Mortise locks, for example, are now being equipped with actuator motors instead of solenoids. 

In a traditional solenoid lock, an energy hungry coil pushes a metal plunger to lock or unlock the door. About 6W of power is continuously consumed to hold the lock in the energized state. When power to the solenoid is removed, a mechanical spring drives the locking mechanism in the opposite direction. 

By comparison, an actuator motor temporarily stores electrical energy in a capacitor and then drives the locking mechanism with a motor to lock or unlock the door. When power is removed, the capacitor is immediately discharged to drive the motor in the opposite direction. 

In addition, the actuator eliminates thermal breakdown, the primary cause of solenoid failure. The actuator does not produce heat and also significantly reduces the electrical load on a physical access control system, is less sensitive to extended wire runs or the gauge of the wire, and operates across a wider voltage range.  

These technological improvements are drastically increasing the energy efficiency of access control products, making them a perfect fit under the new LEED v4 guidelines. 

Materials & Resources

The Materials & Resources section of LEED v4 sees the most significant changes. Following is an overview of this updated section:

  • Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) Building products having EPDs will help designers earn LEED points. This is to encourage the use of products and materials for which life-cycle information is available and that have environmentally, economically, and socially preferable life-cycle impacts and to reward project teams for selecting products from manufacturers who have verified improved environmental life-cycle impacts. 
  • Extended Producer Responsibility Products purchased from a manufacturer (producer) that participates in an extended producer responsibility program or is directly responsible for taking back products at their end of life. Building product manufacturers having return programs in place will gain preference. 
  • Raw Materials Source & Extraction Reporting This credit emphasizes the transparency of extraction practices through third-party reporting for bio-based, mined, quarried and other extracted materials. Building product manufactures will need to look at reporting raw material supplier locations, have a commitment to long-term ecological land use as well as reducing environmental harms from extraction and/or manufacturing processes. 
  • Material Ingredient Reporting This new credit was developed to reward project teams for selecting building products for which the chemical ingredients in the product are inventoried using an accepted methodology and for selecting products verified to minimize the use and generation of harmful substances. This will require manufacturers to publish complete content inventory of their products by CAS number down to .1%. Think of the side of a cereal box today. There is one addition in the Indoor Environmental Quality section of LEED v4 that will impact door openings. 
  • Acoustic Performance This credit seeks to provide workspaces and classrooms that promote occupants well-being, productivity, and communications through effective acoustical design. This new credit calls for specific Sound Transmission Class (STC) ratings for many room adjacency types. 

Environmental Product Declarations, product end-of-life recycling programs, materials ingredients reporting, enhanced thermal performance, lower energy consumption and better sound attenuation are just a few examples of sustainability issues that can be addressed with door openings.

Sustainability is a megatrend that will continue growing with each update to green building rating systems and as governments implement increasingly challenging requirements. Sustainable buildings provide safety, security, health and productivity for the people who live and work in and around them. Door openings can help facilities meet these increasingly stringent green building construction guidelines.