Security vs. Sustainability
Part 3: Windows and Air Intake Vents Can Be Operable and Secure
Windows and Air Intake Vents Can Be Operable and Secure
By Daniel O'Neill - December 2009 - Security
With respect to HVAC, security calls for windows to be sealed shut to prevent air contamination and physical intrusion, while sustainability calls for windows to be operable to allow natural ventilation. Using occupancy sensors and window contact devices, security or facilities personnel can determine if windows are open in unoccupied rooms. These windows can then be shut automatically or on regular intervals such as shift change or during routine facility tours.
What's more, by integrating the access control systems with the building automation system, the HVAC system can be turned on when someone is in an area and turned off when the area is empty, saving energy because the HVAC system is running only when needed.
As with outdoor lighting, video analytics can be used to detect unwanted activity located near a building's air intake vents. These vents can be tampered with if a person were to approach them from the outside and release a toxin into the ventilation system. In addition, outdoor contamination, such as toxic fumes from an idling truck, can enter a building through these vents. Security cameras aimed at the vents could use video analytics not only to detect the presence of a person near the vents, but also the presence of heat plumes, as from a nearby idling truck. However, only thermal cameras can be used in this way, and these are highly expensive and consume a large amount of energy. Therefore, it is critical to maximize these devices when deployed. In addition, thermal cameras could be integrated with the building automation system so that the vents could be automatically shut when such threats are detected.