The Greening of Security

By Laura Spadanuta

Independent power. Power is critical to the running of security systems. Green buildings often get power from their own self-refreshing power generators, which makes the building less vulnerable to problems with the public power grid.

In a power outage or blackout, a typical building may have a backup generator, but such generators will often last only a certain number of hours. In sustainable buildings, however, it is unlikely that power will actually be lost since the building is already running off its own generators, says Howell. That makes it less likely that security systems will fail in a blackout or disaster that affects the power grid.

Camouflage. Another security advantage of sustainable design involves green roofs that include grassy areas and trees or other plant life. An ancillary benefit of this approach is that it can often serve as a camouflage of the building from above and off to the sides. The Pentagon’s Remote Delivery Facility, mentioned earlier, incorporates a large green roof that has the effect of blending the building into its surroundings.  “It’s almost like stealth. When you look at it from the air, it looks like a park, because it’s landscaped and has a promenade. Even when you’re in the Pentagon looking out the window at it, you see a park. You don’t see a building, so it kind of blends in,” says Nielsen.

That type of camouflage could be a very important tool for embassies or bases outside of the United States, says Snider. And in addition to securing the building, it serves an environmental function.

Window laminates. Certain blast-resistant windows can have the side benefit of improving energy efficiency. According to a statement by the Federal Energy Management program, the Pentagon’s new windows are blast-resistant and are 50 percent more energy efficient than the original ones. Several vendors also claim energy-efficient window laminates.

Building envelope. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the Department of Energy prepared an energy efficiency and security checklist that states that the building envelope presents multiple ways to enhance both security and energy efficiency. Creating an airtight barrier can keep chemical and biological agents out while also providing a weather-tight seal that facilitates lower energy use for heating and cooling the building. Additionally, wall insulation can reduce heating needs while providing a secondary barrier from harm.

Filtration. Air filtration is another measure favored by both green designers and security practitioners. The green advocates want to remove pollutants. For security, filters can help to protect against an airborne terrorist attack. “[I]f something is released outside and you have good filters, less of it’s going to get into the building,” says Persily. 

The push for green building design and sustainability components is likely to continue into the future. Security professionals will do best if they become familiar with its features and find ways to adjust to them or to use them to further security’s objectives. Howell advises security professionals to work on sustainable building projects as early as possible and to embrace the requirements as just another design challenge.

Laura Spadanuta is an assistant editor at Security Management.




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