In the past decade, “green” discourse has emerged both in personal circles as well as in businesses. The color has come to be associated with a variety of practices and ideas that have anything to do with preserving nature and minimizing man’s negative impact on the environment. We are continually urged to recycle, conserve and be aware of our “footprint” by politicians, federal agencies and even media personalities. But the green movement is no longer only about political statements and concerned individuals. As security companies of all shapes and sizes are finding out, green is just good business.

Fuel economy is a key concern for an industry characterized by the majority of its work happening outside of headquarters. ADT recently  reported it will save $5.3 million in fuel costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by replacing a large part of its fleet of oversized and inefficient vehicles with 3,000 Ford Transit Connects, compact vans that boast 22 to 25 miles per gallon.

Though some ADT technicians were skeptical that the considerably smaller van would not carry all of their equipment, a five-week pilot program dispelled doubts and established the new vehicles as a more convenient option for residential and small business installers, especially those working in urban areas.

Some companies were implementing conservationist strategies long before the now widespread awareness of the green trend. “We were environment friendly before the environment knew it needed us,” says Ed Bonifas, vice president of Alarm Detection Systems Inc., Aurora, Ill. Alarm Detection Systems has been running a fleet of diesel-fueled Volkswagens since 1981; currently it consists of 75 vehicles.

Though the carbon content in diesel is slightly higher than gasoline, superior fuel economy results in lower carbon emissions from diesel- powered vehicles. According to the company, these vehicles get more than 40 miles per gallon of fuel — outperforming most hybrids. For a company that puts more than 2 million miles a year on its fleet, the overall emissions and fuel costs are greatly reduced.

In addition, the cars are dutifully maintained and run well past 250,000 miles. By extending the life of the vehicle, the company cuts costs and generates less waste in the disposal of the cars. In addition, by running a uniform fleet, parts can be recycled and reused at the end of a car’s life.

According to Bay Alarm Company, Pacheco, Calif., sustainability is as much about the environmental as it is about fiscal responsibility. Waste is a double offender, as it harms the environment and depletes costly resources. Being mindful of inefficient practices is one way the company is ensuring its own permanence in the industry.

To eliminate waste, Bay Alarm has developed a conservation program that includes relying on solar power for one-third of its energy consumption and supplementing that with low-wattage, compact, fluorescent lighting in all of its offices, utilizing hybrid SUVs for patrol and inspection services and running software that manages its service calls and determines the most efficient route so that fuel is conserved, among other projects.

Stanley Convergent Security Solutions (Stanley CSS), guided by its parent company Stanley Black & Decker’s global environmental, health and safety policies, has implemented several sustainability initiatives in the past few years. At a national and local level, Stanley CSS, based in Naperville, Ill., has begun recycling and reusing shipping boxes and packaging material, using scanners to eliminate paper copies and files, recycling in their offices (paper, plastic, metal) and warehouses (wire, transformers, batteries), installing sensors on light and thermostat controls, turning lights and computers off while not in use, and using multi-functional devices to reduce paper waste and increase efficiency, says Jim Kopplin, chief operating officer.

Stanley CSS also reduced printer, postage, paper and plastic use and costs via electronic presentations and proposals in their sales efforts, replacing laminated alarm user passcards with electronic passcards available online, and electronic billing. And Stanley CSS U.K. recently introduced the Vauxhall Astra Club EcoFlex Estate 1.7 CDTi110PS (65 mpg) and Vauxhall Insignia Exclusiv EcoFlex 2.0 CDTi 16v 160PS (59 mpg) to its fleet of vehicles.

According to Deborah Geyer and Deborah Patterson, co-directors, Environment, Health, Safety and Security, Stanley Black & Decker, a key feature of this global sustainability program is visibility and a little motivational competition. Every unit within the Stanley Black & Decker family keeps track of its energy and materials consumption and annual awards are given to those with the best results. In 2009, Stanley CSS reduced its waste by 351,000 lbs. and energy by 2 million PBtus.

There is a lot of variety in the security industry’s move towards greener operations. ScanSource Security of Greenville, S.C. put into practice a recycling and disposal of electronic security products program for dealers. Partnering with E-Waste LCC, the company can control release of harmful materials such as lead, chromium and cadmium from old DVRs and other electronic equipment. According to Scan Source Security, this program creates opportunities for dealers and manufacturers, sets them apart from competitors, and also helps them conform to federal and state-level environmental disposal procedures.

“The program has been extremely well received from both our dealer and vendor partners,” Paul Constantine, vice president of merchandising for ScanSource Security, says. “Everyone is looking for ways to be more environmentally friendly and our recycling program has provided an opportunity for our dealers to add value to their end users and do it in an environmentally friendly way, and our manufacturer partners are planning to use the program to incent dealers to replace old products, while again, taking care of the environment.”

APX Alarm Security Solutions Inc. is taking a holistic approach to energy efficiency with its new corporate campus in Provo, Utah. The 125,000-square-foot headquarters has high-efficiency cooling and plumbing systems. The cooling system runs only 10 to 12 days per year. John Bankhead, who headed the project, explains that the company focused on using local resources, such as glass and materials with a high degree of recycled content, and that care was taken to recycle cardboard and metal during the construction process.  

With this new headquarters, APX seeks to implement sustainable practices that also impact its employees’ experiences. By providing daily lunches at the café on premises, the company reduced employees’ commutes to not-so-nearby amenities and by installing soda fountains instead of selling bottled water and sodas, the company is reducing plastic waste, as well.

The company recently introduced an energy management package, a thermostat that integrates with the security panel and can be programmed to three energy-saving settings. The package also includes 12 compact fluorescent light bulbs for the customer and estimates monthly savings of $25 on energy bills. Alex Dunn, chief operating officer at APX, says “It’s the little things that can make big changes. If each customer uses a little bit less energy each month, that adds up to a lot of carbon taken out of the environment.”

For security consultant Thomas Hines, president of Secure Matrix, Chicago, sustainability is becoming intrinsically linked with security, and that is something the industry can benefit from. “Keeping up with latest and greatest is a necessity to keep our jobs in a competitive world. The IT department would like to take over security and make us obsolete. Sustainability is no longer a fad, but a pressing reality we must consider.” By offering services and products that help customers reduce waste and conserve energy, security companies can expand their niche in commercial and residential markets.

Steve Sopkin, president, Mijac Alarm, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., says being environmentally friendly is about working smarter, not harder. Mijac implemented a number of green programs, such as filing all paperwork electronically, installing skylights in its sales office and lunchroom to reduce artificial lighting and using low-voltage and halogen lighting where necessary, installing timers on thermostats, recycling printer cartridges through a local charity, returning batteries to manufacturers so their lead content can be disposed of safely, and offering paperless e-mail invoicing and electronic payment processing.

“The world has always been green, we’re just trying to minimize our impact, right? Not to mention the fact that it saves money, uses less energy, less landfill space and protects future generations’ chance of survival. Isn’t that what the security industry is about, security and survival?” asks Sopkin.

The Green Image

A study by the Boston Consulting Group conducted in 2009 shows that companies who are visibly taking measures to minimize their footprint are more attractive to customers.

According to the study, called “Capturing the Green Advantage for Consumer Companies,” concerns over unstable energy prices are driving people to consider “cost and depletion of natural resources” when making financial decisions.

This applies to the marketability of green products and services, such as those offered by APX and ScanSource (see full article) among others, but also to public interest in company operations and policies. In a survey BCG conducted in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States, 73 percent of respondents said it was “important” or “very important” for companies to have a

good environmental track record and 75 percent said companies should provide information on their environmental impact.

What You Can Do Now

Possibly the most popular and widely implemented conservationist strategies are recycling programs. Every one of the companies SDM spoke with has some sort of recycling plan in its day-to-day operations. From paper baskets in copy rooms to repurposing old furniture; from plastic and aluminum bins to reusing auto parts, the recycling possibilities are endless and a good starting point for companies looking to cut down waste (and spending).