Playing Their Part
Dealers, integrators and manufacturers are contributing to the green movement with sustainability initiatives and energy-saving solutions.
The “green movement” has permeated the security industry on a number of levels from corporate and internal sustainability initiatives to green products and customer offerings. Manufacturers, dealers and integrators are playing their part in the movement with everything from simple, cost-cutting initiatives to documented corporate sustainability policies. Motivations involve a combination of corporate responsibility, the bottom line, and the ability to do business with customers that require a commitment to reducing the carbon footprint.
As another April rolls around on the calendar, Earth Day puts a spotlight on what many companies are doing on a day-to-day basis to reduce their carbon footprint and create sustainable, green business practices. And, many in the industry have discovered that going green starts with small, concrete changes that have a noticeable impact.
In November 2011, Convergint Technologies, Schaumburg, Ill., rolled out its Health, Safety, Environment and Sustainability Policy that had been in the works for more than a year. “It’s a cultural issue and it really supports the Convergint culture of doing the right thing and giving back to the community,” says Dan Moceri, chief executive officer (CEO) of the company. “Without this policy we wouldn’t be doing work on some customer sites. We have a policy that supports the type of customers we are pursuing.”
Convergint’s sustainability policy is broken down into different categories and includes office sustainability initiatives, battery recycling and proper disposal, paperless document management, lighting, GPS vehicle tracking and more. Initiatives such as providing special recycling containers in each office and putting up signs reminding people to print double-sided when appropriate are all a part of the plan. The company has a committee of eight people, which will meet quarterly to add and change things in the policy as it develops. “This is our first set of initiatives,” says Leslie Evans, vice president of human resources at Convergint. “We do see this policy as evolving. It’s all about making responsible decisions and we need to make this the culture here.”
While corporate and community responsibility were driving forces for the written sustainability policy at Convergint, so too was business with certain customers, particularly in the industrial or petrochemical area of the market, according to Moceri. “A lot of the customers we deal with in these areas require us to have these types of policies in order to work on their site,” Moceri says. A third-party agency that Convergint and many of its industrial clients work with is called ISNetworld, which independently audits the policies and practices of companies in a number of areas including safety, as well as internal and on-the-job sustainability initiatives to ensure that hired contractors abide by such practices, Moceri explains.
“Five years ago was probably the first time we ever were asked for a copy of our environmental policy and it was an odd question,” Evans says. “Now it is becoming more and more routine and our employees are using the policy and attaching it to their bids. This is really what our customers are looking for.”
Many other dealers and integrators have implemented green initiatives as well. Provident Security, Vancouver, B.C., Canada, started a big push toward a paperless environment and six years later, the company is almost paper-free, according to Mike Jagger, president. “We really started it because of business needs; the environmental aspect of it was a bonus,” he says. Today, the entire dispatch and reporting process is paperless, along with all alarm and field response reports. Invoicing also is done electronically.
“The savings are in every aspect: less confusion, simpler to control and people are allowed immediate access to things anywhere,” Jagger explains. “The biggest lesson we learned is to start really small. What worked well in the beginning was knocking off small projects with a quick impact so that employees could see immediate results and come onboard. Then we pushed through with more and more aggressive changes. Once we pushed through to the client level, it has really come together as one clean process.”
While a paperless environment has streamlined operations and realized Provident’s largest cost-savings of any of its initiatives, the company — which provides its own installation, monitoring and guard services with a five-minute guaranteed response time — has implemented other green initiatives as well, including a battery and electronics recycling program and bicycles for patrol teams. “When it makes sense to have a bicycle versus a vehicle we will do that. It ends up being more efficient in some neighborhoods at certain times of the year,” Jagger says.
Another integrator company that has placed a focus on sustainable and environmentally friendly initiatives is Security Control Systems Inc. in Dallas. The company has pushed toward a paperless environment over the last few years, and one of the big savers in this area was migrating from a paper review process to an electronic review process.
“We work on an awful lot of drawings and, over time, loads of blotter paper is used and various versions are created,” says Bill Savage, president at Security Control Systems Inc. “We moved to large format monitors specifically for drawing reviews and this itself has made a significant impact. The vast majority of our proposals were large, voluminous, multiple-copy documents and we’ve migrated to almost exclusively electronic production proposals. It also keeps us from having different versions flying around that may not be up to date.” Savage says that as a business, there is a significant responsibility to save money and be good stewards of the environment.
On another side of the green movement at the client level, Savage says that Security Control Systems has had interest from customers, particularly in the energy and petrochemical industry on environmentally friendly installations of security and surveillance systems. “We have some valuable experience at a number of sites that need installations that do not disrupt the environmental areas by trenching and back benching. They are concerned with the soil and erosion process at the sites; you need a high degree of security and flexibility for these,” Savage explains.
Many dealers and integrators admit that green initiatives are often driven by potential cost savings or operational improvements first, and the environmental aspect of it, second. It took Tech Systems, a PSA Security Network member, about a year to close down all but three office locations and transition its employees to a work-from-home program that not only saves significant business costs, but also reduces the employees’ footprints by reducing the time (and gas) they have to spend commuting or traveling to meetings. Tech Systems has 155 employees in 20-plus states. “We have seen huge cost savings by not leasing all the facilities. We are not using utilities that we don’t have to or maintaining equipment within the office environment like copiers, printers and telephones,” says Joanne Heroux, communications at the Duluth, Ga.-based company.
Not all companies can implement a work-from-home policy, but many are finding other ways to be more efficient and reduce their carbon footprint. Pasek, South Boston, Mass., and The Protection Bureau, Exton, Pa., have both seen significant savings switching out some of their service vehicles for more efficient models. “This year, we are redoing three quarters of our fleet from less big, construction-style trucks to better-mileage vans and cars,” says J. Matthew Ladd, president of The Protection Bureau. The company brought in several Ford Transits, Chevy HHRs and PT Cruisers. “We are getting 28 miles per gallon out of the Transits where we get 13 miles per gallon out of the old vans. The driver of our Chevy says he is now using 50 percent less gas compared to the vehicle he was using before,” Ladd adds.
In addition, The Protection Bureau, like many companies, uses GPS tracking to ensure service vehicle route efficiency and to track speeding. “Speeding wastes gas and we also want to make sure our [employees] are being as efficient as possible,” Ladd says. “Although I’d love to say this was based on the environment, it was really financial. We saw the cost of gas skyrocketing and needed to make some decisions.”
Integrator company Pasek switched several of its service vehicles to more efficient models over the years as well, including one diesel vehicle, which is used for highway traveling. “It certainly gets better gas mileage,” says David Alessandrini, vice president at the company. In the office, Pasek has also made steps to recycle all paper, metals, bottles, plastics and cardboards. “We also try to make a conscious effort to reduce printing documents,” he says.
World Wide Security/GC Alarm, Garden City, N.Y., has several three-wheeled, all-electric vehicles that are used at tradeshows and for driving interest in the company. “Our view as a whole is we look to do anything positive that can be done,” says Ken Mara, president and CEO of the company. “You hope there is a cost savings back to the business, but environmental impact is a big thing.”
While the company can’t use the electric vehicles as part of its service fleet, simply because the small cars don’t have the space or weight allowances that the service technicians need, World Wide Security is always on the lookout for other steps it can take to be more sustainable and efficient as a company. For example, one step employees take is recycling wiring and equipment. “We take back items we are not using so they can be used on other installations or reconfigured for an upcoming job. If we go to an installation that already has equipment, we don’t discard it. We try to recycle the wiring and even if the equipment is not reusable, we reclaim what we can and make it work again for another job whenever possible,” Mara explains.
Manufacturers Seeing Green
Installing companies are not the only ones in the security industry that have implemented green and sustainable initiatives. In fact, many manufacturers are taking notes on the green movement as well and have implemented steps toward reducing their carbon footprints and being more environmentally friendly on a corporate or enterprise level, and at the product and manufacturing processes level.
Tyco Security Products’ Toronto, Canada, manufacturing facility has been a major steward of green initiatives at the company. Last year, the company completed a $216,000 retrofit of the lighting in its 188,000 square foot facility, which manufactures DSC, Sur-Gard and Kantech brands of security equipment. Because of the changeover, the facility has seen a savings of 66 percent in its electricity consumption, according to Glen Brislan, vice president of global supply chain, security products, at Tyco. In addition, the project reduced the facility’s Co2 emissions from electricity generation by 502 tons per year — the equivalent of 1,575 trees planted or 105 cars eliminated.
With such a large impact realized from a change in lighting, the company is currently looking at a similar project for its Toronto R&D and support facility before 2012 ends, according to Brislan. However, the changes don’t stop there. Efforts already implemented include more efficient plumbing fixtures and toilets; timers and sensors in meeting rooms to conserve energy; and an extensive recycling program, for which May O’Brien, manager, EH&S, security products, at Tyco says prevented 644,000 pounds of waste from ending up in the landfill last year. “In the next few months, we are looking at extending our efforts to the cafeteria by using compostable plates, drinking containers and utensils made out of bamboo. We will also be composting table scraps,” Brislan says.
Tyco’s Toronto facility team, which includes Brislan, O’Brien and Rexford Yirenkyi, maintenance & facilities manager, security products, also has focused environmental efforts on the manufacturing processes. Five years ago, the company converted all of its components used in electronic assemblies for the intrusion business to lead free, according to Brislan. In addition, the facility implemented a recycling program with some of its suppliers that ship certain components in plastic trays or tubes where they ship the trays back to the supplier for reuse. In one instance, the team worked with a supplier to change the supplier’s packaging so that they could easily recycle the unused pieces. “We were having trouble getting rid of foam since it can be hard to recycle,” O’Brien says. “We were able to get the supplier to work with us and receive the part in a plastic tray rather than a foam tray so we could recycle it. These are the things that our engineers are always looking for to help out with recycling or smaller packaging.”
Brislan says that Tyco’s corporate offices have a sustainability policy and encourage its locations to implement green approaches and practices. “We are given a lot of leeway when it comes to implementing anything that will save resources and also save dollars,” he says.
ASSA ABLOY, New Haven, Conn., also saw the need for a focus on sustainability and in 2010 created the director of sustainable building solutions position at the company. “The company started this position because they really saw sustainability as an inflection point for the industry,” says Aaron Smith, LEED AP BD+C, director of sustainable building solutions at the company. “This is something all of our customers from distributors to architects to end users to integrators are asking for, but we need to put together the pieces of what this means for us.”
On a corporate level, ASSA ABLOY is a signator of the UN Global Compact as well as members of the Canadian and United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and the German Sustainable Building Council. The company does a sustainability report every few years for things such as water consumption, energy use, chemical handling and health and safety for employees under the Global Reporting Initiatives guidelines, and also conducts a carbon disclosure project, which tracks the company’s footprint. The company has done lighting retrofits, HVAC improvements, building envelope improvements and more. The ASSA ABLOY EMS & OEM Group Facility in Phoenix, Ariz. was even certified LEED Silver, but the most important steps are those that affect the customer, according to Smith.
“It’s a sustainability continuum. Traditionally, what [the industry does] is probably 2 percent of an overall project, so in the past, our efforts were lower hanging fruit compared with things like windows and HVAC improvements. But, with the continuum, the bar gets raised and it will continue to rise so that every piece of a building will become a more and more important part of the sustainability argument. People want to know what can you do to make a building even better and now our industry has to start to do that,” Smith explains. He adds that, for example, an exit device from one of its brands, Sergeant, uses 50 percent less energy than with its previous technology (see page 106). While the energy use of one device may not be significant, when installed in a large building with hundreds of devices, customers start to see an impact and cost savings, and end users are really beginning to understand this, according to Smith.
“Energy is usually the number one spend for our customers aside from employee costs and there is a concern about energy. So we tell our customers, here is the impact of this one change on your building,” Smith says. He adds that environmentally friendly, safe materials also are permeating the industry, with more and more customers asking about the health impact of products.
“Customers are telling us they want to avoid PVC, phthalates and a number of other materials that have an impact on health in their buildings,” Smith says. As a result, ASSA ABLOY eliminated PVC from all of its door closer products. The company also had its security doors and frames tested for VOC off-gassing to comply with customer requests, as well as green codes and standards in some states that limit VOCs in buildings.
At the product level, many manufacturers are doing their part to offer customers green products or products that help achieve a greater level of sustainability. Micro Key Solutions, Kissimmee, Fla., has been on a mission to remove paper from organizations for many years, according to Victoria Ferro, president. One of the company’s initiatives for this year, says Ferro, is sending research and development teams out to conduct site visits of larger customers to analyze the amount of paper they are using and help them automate the company’s solutions to the next level. “It is about operating smarter, more efficiently and reducing labor — all of that contributes to the big thumbprint we make on the environment. At the end of the day, going green can help you become more profitable,” Ferro says.
Micro Key has implemented a number of modules and features to encourage organizations to save paper. One module that was added to all of the company’s products is called the Virtual Printer, which takes signals and data from the field and stores it electronically instead of automatically printing it out. A Technician module aims to save gas and paper by allowing installers or technicians to receive their work orders virtually, rather than having to drive into the office to pick up printed paperwork. “They can even e-mail the customer a receipt upon completion of the job,” says Ferro.
To help integrators go after more green business, Denmark-headquartered Milestone Systems, created its video management software with sophisticated rules that can be used to integrate with total building solutions, allowing for control of HVAC, electricity and water. “Aside from the positive ethical associations, everyone is looking for cost efficiencies to save on the bottom line, such as using less energy and resources,” says Eric Fullerton, chief sales and marketing officer at the company. He says that the company has seen integrators use the Milestone VMS to control lighting, heating, cooling, and even program the timing of an HVAC system’s use according to optimal need.
Commercial and residential end users fall into the green picture most often in the energy management or monitoring aspect of the green movement. With the technology available, end users are able to realize cost savings on their energy bills by learning about their energy usage habits and then controlling their energy bills based on actual, real-time usage.
Jim Sinopoli, PE, LEED AP, RCDD, managing principal at Smart Buildings, Spicewood, Texas, says that many companies now have corporate mandates to be good stewards of the environment and have sustainable energy management practices. “The owners see this as a good thing, and it’s also related to how much they are spending on energy. We have a large healthcare organization as a client. They have 160 hospitals and spend $230 million a year on natural gas and electricity. They obviously have an energy management program because saving 10 to 20 percent on their energy bills means just huge, huge dollars.”
Many players in the green market agree that commercial customers have been asking for green or sustainable projects for several years, often because they can realize the cost savings Sinopoli describes almost immediately, whereas the residential market is only just beginning to adopt such initiatives, because the cost savings take longer. Still, new technologies are opening up more opportunities and more home owners are expressing interest in energy savings. “Commercial customers have adopted energy management a lot faster, just because of the dollars and sense of it all,” says Mark van den Broek, president of SmartHouse Integration, Sarasota, Fla. And yet, in certain markets such as Florida where many people secure vacation homes, integrating sustainable materials and energy management systems into the home is not just popular, it’s becoming a necessity as well. Van den Broek offers security, structured wiring, whole-house music and entertainment systems, automation and shade control, HVAC control, access control, networking, surveillance and more to commercial and residential customers.
In 2009, SmartHouse Integration was awarded the Consumer Electronics Association’s TechHome Platinum Mark of Excellence Award for Best Green Project. The company worked with builder Josh Wynne Construction and his team of contractors to build the first LEED platinum home in the state of Florida and the second in the United States.
Van den Broek says that integrators don’t need to be LEED certified or know everything about a green project, but rather they have to be able to understand what a customer or builder wants and be able to specify the products that will work seamlessly with the home and program the home’s systems to all communicate with one another.
Honeywell’s Tuxedo Touch uses Z-Wave technology to control lighting, window shades and thermostats. “Everyone knows these things have a dramatic impact on energy usage and disposable income, so this all stems around home automation and the ability to see what a user’s energy usage is week-by-week, month-by-month and year-by-year,” says Rob Puric, director of product management and marketing at Honeywell Security and Communications, Melville, N.Y. “People will be able to look at their actual load and energy usage and make intelligent, conscious decisions about the energy they are using,” Puric adds. Honeywell will be adding Zigbee capability to the Tuxedo Touch later this year.
Alarm.com’s vice president, Jay Kenny, says that the company has been focusing its efforts on connecting security and energy management together to provide more value to its dealer customer base, and ultimately, the end user. “We are providing useful information from the security platform, since it’s the only system that knows whether you are home or not and can use that information intelligently in the energy monitoring market,” Kenny explains. The company recently released a new feature to its emPower home automation and energy management solution called Smart Schedule Activity Patterns.
“What we are moving toward is letting the system make intelligent recommendations, and the security system is in a unique place to be able to add a lot of value with sensor data and motion information,” Kenny says.
To recognize all of this work in the green movement, the Security Industry Association (SIA) added a “Green Solutions” category to its 2012 New Product Showcase awards program at ISC West. According to Jennifer Martin, chair of the NPS program, committee members and judges had thought about adding a “green” category for the past few years, but only now are they starting to see a real pick-up in attention to the movement.
“We had been kicking around a green category for a while, but we didn’t see enough marketing messages or companies making it a huge part of their product initiatives last year. We are seeing more and more of that now,” Martin explains. “Certainly I think we are just now paying more attention to it in this industry. You have to remember that a lot of security technology products were green before talking about green, because they are low-voltage for the most part and not high energy, but it becomes more significant when you are talking about a building or facility with 1,000 cameras that have a 25 percent reduction in power. A lot of companies are looking at green solutions for their manufacturing process as well, so there is a lot more focus on this in the security industry now.”
As LEED certifications get more difficult, building codes become more stringent and technology continues to improve, the green movement will continue to permeate the security industry both in the ways companies conduct business and in the services and products they are providing. “There are parallel industries to ours that have an extremely high level of interest in sustainability and are years ahead of ours,” Smith says. “From a sustainability perspective as a whole, the industry is in the early stages of figuring out how we fit. There is a huge green wave coming at the customer and product level, but we’ve not reached it yet.”
While it is true that energy monitoring itself does not contribute to the actual points that go toward a LEED certification, integrator companies can still play a part in the overall mission of a green project. “It doesn’t mean the ESC can’t contribute toward the goal that the customer has set forth, with motorized window shades, lighting control or occupancy sensors,” says Erica Shonkwiler, market research manager at CEDIA, Indianapolis.
To help installing companies realize where they fit into the marketplace in terms of being able to offer “green” services to their customers, industry organizations are making it a priority to help get them educated on how to add value to green projects or sustainable initiatives in a building. The average independent security integrator is not currently active in energy management or energy savings as part of a total building solution at this stage of the green movement, says Bill Bozeman, president and CEO of PSA Security Network, Westminster, Colo., and therefore, dialog and education is important to get the conversation started. “Smaller independent integrators have been integrating video, alarm and access control for a while, however, the integration of these into building management and environmental control is really in its early stages,” Bozeman says.
Bozeman says that government rebates and tax breaks will continue to drive integrators into offering energy-saving systems, environmental control and total building management. To educate integrator members on such total integration, PSA Security Network invited Dean Meyer, the executive vice president of Schneider Electric’s buildings business as its keynote for the May 2012 PSA-TEC Conference in Denver. “It’s important to discuss how the migration and integration of all these platforms and systems will impact the independent physical security integrator,” he says.
Like PSA Security Network, CEDIA has made conversation and education on the subject of “green” one of its priorities. The organization offers a class for designing residential energy management systems; it also offered a webinar on conducting energy audits and wrote a white paper on an ESC’s guide to LEED homes. (See page 48.) “It’s important for our members to see what they can do in each of these areas to contribute to a project,” Shonkwiler says.