How LEED v4 Impacts Doors & Hardware, and Promotes a Whole-Building Approach to Sustainability

By Amy Vigneux, Director of Sustainable Building Solutions, ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions

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. Additionally, it is now imperative to understand the entire life cycle impacts of a product: examining energy used to extract raw materials, transport materials, manufacture the product, package the product, use the product, and finally, what happens to the product when it has reached the end of its life cycle.

These guidelines can be addressed by using progressive building products, such as 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.

Exterior Doors, 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-percent more stringent than the previous version. U factors for exterior door opening solutions will remain at 0.7 for climate zones 1-6 and 0.5 for climate zones 7-8. Allowable operable air infiltration drops the most significantly from 0.4 cfm/sf2 to 0.2 cfm/sf2 under operable test conditions.

LEED v4 uses ASHRAE 90.1-2010 as a starting point, and asks designers to achieve 10- to 48-percent 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 gaskets 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-percent of global energy consumption, this one energy efficiency action can make a big dent in energy demand.

The PoE Lock on 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.

Many facilities still incorporate traditional Electronic Access Control (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 (LCA) 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 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.

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 $1,800per 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. Transparency is the key theme for this section. Manufacturers and project teams are being charged with exploring transparency of product ingredients as well as transparency in operations for sustainable manufacturing, and sourcing- utilizing suppliers with strict ethics and sustainability standards. 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 a complete content inventory of their products by CAS number down to .1%.

  • Indoor Environmental Quality

Low Emitting Materials

The intent is to reduce concentrations of chemical contaminants that can damage air quality, human health, productivity, and the environment. Many products now include third party certifications such as GREENGUARD Gold, to demonstrate low levels of harmful chemical off-gassing, like VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

Acoustic Performance

This credit seeks to provide workspaces and classrooms that promote occupant 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.

Life cycle assessments, product end-of-life recycling programs, materials ingredients reporting, enhanced thermal performance, lower energy consumption, low emitting materials, and better sound attenuation are just a few examples of doors and hardware contributing to a sustainable built environment.

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 for building certification programs like LEED, Living Building Challenge, WELL, along with codes and standards.


Amy Vigneux is the Director of Sustainable Building Solutions for ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions in New Haven, Connecticut. Amy joined ASSA ABLOY in 2007 and has held a variety of positions across numerous divisions in customer service, marketing, sales, and sustainability. She is responsible for supporting business opportunities for ASSA ABLOY building products and solutions that deliver energy efficiency and sustainability for the commercial and institutional construction industry.

Amy is a member of the Connecticut Living Building Challenge Collaborative and a member of the Connecticut GBC chapter. She is a Certified Sustainability Manager and a LEED Green Associate. Amy has a Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a minor in Information Technology from Monmouth University and a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership from Quinnipiac University.