Security consultants are on the front lines of trends such as “smart buildings” and the increasing demand for green technologies. We recently gathered together several consultants to reflect on what’s new in these areas, joined by a representative of HID Global.

Participants were Chris Grniet of Guidepost Solutions, Brandon Frazier of Elert & Associates, Terry Harless of Burns & McDonnell, and Harm Radstaak, HID Global’s Vice President and Managing Director, Physical Access Control.

SourceSecurity.com: What are your thoughts on the emergence of “smart buildings”? How do you see the concept expanding? How does making a building “smart” add value to it as an asset?

Brandon Frazier: The term smart building has been a moving target beginning in the late 1800s with the electric thermostat. As I see things now becoming networked, becoming smarter, I think we’ll be able to aggregate a lot of data, and probably use that data. I think there will be new ways to use data for the average customer.

Chris Grniet: Smart buildings have been a long time coming. It’s about green, sustainability, the ability to control your environment, and making sure you get the most efficiency out of an asset. To understand how an asset is being used is very important. A lot of clients these days are looking for occupancy calculations: Are my facilities being used to their utmost capabilities? What are my populations, and how do I control the environments? And is the real estate really worth keeping because so many people are working remotely?

Harm Radstaak: I believe that smart buildings will bring our traditional security industry potentially into a new space, with data analytics and servicing end users, and channeling data to be used for green buildings, sustainability, space utilisation. It’s important for our industry to know how we will make sure that data is secure and trusted for end users and to provide the correct technology, services and solutions.

Terry Harless: Another thing is that smart buildings can be used for maintenance. In the security world, you can keep a log of how many people have gone through a door, or use it for maintaining batteries if you’re using wireless devices, or maybe maintain your locks when they have been cycled so many times.

SourceSecurity.com: How important is being “green” related to design decisions and product selection? How do you use green products?

Frazier: The world of selecting electronics based on green criteria has always been very tricky. A lot of manufacturers have come out with “green products.” I’ve seen more power-efficient products, and we are seeing certifications on them. But it is very difficult, I think, to truly design a green technology-based system end-to-end. Not just single components but an entirely efficient system.

Radstaak: I see it as absolutely a trend for end users to specify new buildings according to sustainability and green specifications. For HID Global and ASSA ABLOY, we see it as one of the megatrends worldwide. Green and sustainability are critical as we define our products and solution set and bring that back to the table in design engineering and product marketing.

Harless: I’m on board and think green is good. But as far as helping with accumulating points for the LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] certification, I have talked with several architects and engineers in the past who are LEED certified and discussed with them some of the green security products out there. For the most part, they say the products are not providing any points for them. They typically don’t want to waste the time of adding security into their evaluation.

SourceSecurity.com: So the “green” that we have achieved in the security market is not translating into enough quantitative scoring to make a difference in the LEED certification.

Frazier: I think our power usage is so miniscule compared to the big building systems that the savings we offer are just not worth their time (to document).

Grniet: I have had some opposite experiences where we are able to contribute if we don’t call it a security category, but we put it in with the low voltage category, so now we have greener power consumption on my switches, my computing systems, people are putting OTNs (optical transport networks) in, and not utilising as much power on a floor-by-floor basis. Now I have smart power supplies, smart locks, green locks. Where the industry has always lacked is the sustainability piece. We talk about zero landfill projects. We talk about rare earth metals involved in these processes, and other materials; this industry continues to source from remote regions. Everybody is pitching “built in America,” but we all have to source something from abroad, and those are real challenges for the security industry. Not to mention the fact that, unfortunately, we ship everything in small packages – it’s all unitised. So we create massive landfills by doing that. There are some companies that have gone out and started packaging in mass relative to orders and said: “This is how we are going to ship, not on an individual piece-by-piece basis.” That has to speak to the entire supply chain relative to sustainability.

Read part 2 of our Consultants' Forum series here