Door hardware might not be the first product maintenance and engineering managers consider when specifying with sustainability in mind. In looking for ways to minimize a commercial or institutional building’s environmental impact, they often turn to systems that can offer more appealing opportunities.
“I draw the analogy that there was a lot of low-hanging fruit for sustainability in the past,” says Aaron Smith with Assa Abloy. “People would work on their HVAC systems, lighting systems, their windows, or insulation. But every part of the building is starting to come under scrutiny, so I really think (door hardware) is starting to become top of mind now.”
But when it comes to components such as hinges, handles, locks, and closers, managers can help their organizations earn points toward certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.
As partners in the specification process, manufacturers of door hardware components say they are seeing priorities shift among managers who specify products for their facilities.
“When we start seeing stuff that’s specified, there’s always some type of sustainability listed,” says Curt Hubacher with Adams Rite. “It’s growing.”
The trend of managers thinking more sustainably about their facilities’ door hardware components is “a natural progression,” Smith says.
They “are diving deeper into the built environment,” Smith says. “A great example is if you think about energy efficiency. Obviously, you are going to attack the building envelope, the lighting systems. What we’re seeing is that energy efficiency of electronic-access hardware is starting to become very important. People have fixed their lighting, they have all LEDs or fluorescents in their building, and they’re starting to look at additional impacts, like what’s the access control plug load energy in a building?”
Understandably, managers in health care facilities seem to be interested in a wide range of potential benefits from improving sustainability.
“When (health care) facilities are building, it’s a consideration,” says Tasha Birdwell with KABA Access & Data Systems Americas. “It’s more of an overall guideline, and any company you talk about is going to tell you they strive for sustainability as much as possible. In a health care facility, they have more to manage, and they seem to be a little bit more proactive about looking in that direction.”
Because of their need to attract and retain tenants, commercial office buildings also offer managers additional opportunities to focus on door hardware in relation to sustainability.
“A competitive advantage or requirement for them is to certify their buildings LEED, whether it’s silver, platinum, or whatever it’s going to be, they want to be able to make that statement,” says April Dalton-Noblitt with Allegion. “It’s critical for their business model. I understand that they are looking for every single contribution and component they can get.”
Managers in institutional facilities, including universities and K-12 school districts, are operating under a different set of circumstances that influence their product choices.
“There’s not new construction in institutional facilities,” Dalton-Noblitt says she says. “They’re looking to refurbish and, in many cases, look for opportunities to improve. That’s going to drive different requirements and behaviors for those facilities folks who manage these buildings. To maintain that certification, they are going to have to be aware of how those components contributed to LEED certification and make sure (they are) maintained.”
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