How access control can improve a building's green credentials

London, UK

According to Assa Abloy the right access solution can contribute to better sustainability performance. Image courtesy of Assa Abloy

Embedding sustainability within any organisation requires a broad, strategic perspective. Scrutiny should include the physical infrastructure itself: According to the international Energy Association's findings, buildings consume around 30% of global energy.

These considerations are already part of many architecture and design workflows. The demand for green building certifications, for example, is growing among decision-makers in the built environment space, according to a recent survey of 4,000 professionals published by specialist sustainability media outlet Edie.

Yet the entire building life-cycle is equally important. Even when the building is in use, many design and specification decisions also impact ongoing sustainability performance and energy management. The choice of access solutions is one which can contribute to an overall sustainability strategy.

From the initial ideas stage through to product supply and the maintenance, repair or retrofitting of older premises, access control procurement choices matter in at least these 4 different ways.

Stage #1: Specification support for greener buildings

From doors and door closers to complete digital access solutions, Assa Abloy manufactures and supplies products for almost any building or opening. “This range gives us uniquely broad-based knowledge about standards and certifications,” explains Dikesh Pattni, Specification Manager at Assa Abloy Opening Solutions EMEIA.

“Our locally based specification experts can help customers choose solutions which reduce energy use, for example, or door products which improve the thermal efficiency of indoor spaces.”

Assa Abloy offers in-depth support for architects and developers seeking accreditation in any of six leading green building certifications: BREEAM, LEED, Green Star, WELL, DGNB, HQE. Assa Abloy devices are able to benefit from ongoing supply-chain innovations which specifically target reducing embodied carbon.

In Poland, for example, developer Torus aims for the highest level of LEED certification for all their new properties in the Gdansk area. Where possible, they choose products which have Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and Green Circle documentation, favouring access solutions which reduce both carbon footprint and energy costs.

Detailed, product-specific EPDs highlight the concrete benefits delivered by Assa Abloy’s investments in using more reusable and recyclable materials, and in embedding low-energy and eco-design principles across its operations — detailed information which will be essential when the European Performance of Buildings Directive is implemented from 2026.

Stage #2: Fast, easy installation with less materials used

Installation of any building solution can be energy intensive. However, businesses reduce energy use by choosing a wireless digital access solution: Assa Abloy offers a range of options from smart-key operated access management systems to locking devices powered by energy harvesting technology.

With solutions which require no wiring around the door, there’s no drilling or cabling, which reduces power consumption. There’s much less damage to the building fabric. And because wireless installation is faster, fitters make fewer journeys to and from the site.

“The lack of wiring significantly reduces materials use, reduces costs, and ensures quick installation,” confirms Torus’ Roman Sokolowski.

Stage #3: Reduced energy consumption during use

Use stage for any digital building system means ongoing energy consumption, 24/7 and year-round for most business premises. Traditional wired security and access systems can be surprisingly power-hungry.

Wireless systems work differently, however. During operation, instead of an ‘always on’ mains electricity connection powering lock magnets, wireless devices only ‘wake up’ when presented with a credential. Energy use in operation is eliminated altogether if locks are powered by energy harvesting technology. These self-powered devices do not require batteries or any other external electricity source.

Smart key technology also offers the opportunity to cut wasted journeys. Assa Abloy’s award-winning Cliq Connect keys and app are designed to minimize travel to and from a base to collect, return, update or revalidate access rights. With Cliq Connect, everyone carries their own programmable Cliq key and keeps its permissions up-to-date on the move via a Bluetooth connection to their smartphone — meaning fewer miles driven and less money wasted on unnecessary fuel.

“CLIQ Connect offers an easy win for businesses examining the impact of a mobile workforce on their sustainability performance,” says Stephan Schulz, Cliq Product Manager at Assa Abloy Opening Solutions EMEIA. “And of course, spending less on fuel will also help with budget concerns, too. There’s a concrete, immediate ROI.”

Furthermore, the option to deploy ASSA ABLOY devices which can be unlocked with mobile keys stored securely on a user’s smartphone, instead of cards, fobs or traditional metal keys, reduces materials use and further cuts unnecessary travel. Granting or amending someone’s access is done over the air, with no need to return to base or an update point and no physical credential to issue or manage.

Stage #4: Less frequent, less invasive maintenance

Every building system needs maintenance. However, they don’t all require the same level or frequency of maintenance visits. Less maintenance translates to fewer journeys and lower energy consumption. Again, wireless access technologies with a proven track record of reliability and durability hold a significant advantage.

Many Assa Abloy wireless locks, including Aperio, use standard batteries which are optimised for a long lifetime — typically 2 years or more, although this varies by model and usage. Under normal circumstances, a battery change is the only maintenance they need, unlike wired systems where specialist electrical maintenance is a frequent requirement.

Programmable key systems with electronic or electromechanical devices are likewise designed for minimal lifetime maintenance. An Ecliq cylinder, for example, has an integrated lubricant reservoir which ensures it typically remains maintenance-free for up to 200,000 cycles. Battery-powered Cliq keys have a typical lifetime between battery changes of up to 10 years.

“We have made energy efficiency a driving force behind the development, design and manufacturing of our innovative solutions,” adds Olympia Dolla, Head of Sustainability Program at Assa Abloy Opening Solutions EMEIA. “Energy harvesting technology, mobile keys and energy efficient devices help enhance sustainability performance right away — and equip you with the flexibility for challenges to come.”


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