Story at a glance:

  • Vertical pivot gates offer security outside buildings and save space compared to sliding gates.
  • Self-powered doors can both improve access and reduce significant energy.
  • Key codes, RFID tags, and Mobile IDs allow for easy access in many building projects.

In an increasingly technological world, who has access to what, and how, is incredibly important. Who can get into your building? And who has the ability to lock things down?

Access control ranges from guards at luxury housing to fobs on a keychain to secure doors in schools. Authorizing access to a building is a big responsibility, and it’s one that is greatly assisted by new technologies and building solutions.

As more building owners look for how to improve building access, we talked to industry experts about some of the latest solutions.

Gating Systems

autogate how to improve building access

Photo courtesy of AutoGate

Automatic gates and fencing are no stranger to perimeter security, but there is also another style of gate system that offers its own set of advantages: the vertical pivot gate.

What is a vertical pivot gate, or VPG? Defined as automatic vehicular gate systems that open and close with the same motion of a railroad crossing arm, VPGs are said to offer considerable security, safety, and space-saving advantages compared to sliding gates. And they’ve been around for more than 40 years.

“I think the key advantages of VPGs are their speed to process vehicles, reduced areas pedestrians can be injured, reduced issues with problematic functionality, increased security features, and certainly lower cost of ownership,” said Brian Fritz, vice president of business development at AutoGate, in a previous submission to gb&d.

Fritz says the ease of pivot gate installation reduces the need for highly experienced installers and substantially eases the burden of specifiers during project design and construction phases, too.

Guard Booths

Solutions from Panel Built offer an increased feeling of security, according to PanelBuilt’s Nathaniel Otto.

Otto says guard shacks can be outfitted with an exterior mounted ID scanner so employees can scan the identification themselves, or officers can use handheld scanners to verify the ID through their side window. In both cases, there is a physical barrier between the guard and the employee to protect both parties. Access control points can be operated with a code, access card, fob, or other technology, Otto says.

Panel Built manufactures custom guard booths, guard shacks, and guard houses, among many other offerings. According to their website, their prefabricated guard booths are innately stronger than traditional booths because each individual section is designed to withstand the stress of transportation and assembly. They are also forkliftable for ease of relocation.

Touchless Technology

delta controls how to improve building access

Photo courtesy of Delta Controls

Building automation systems are ever-changing, and BAS devices can increasingly connect to access and door control using Bluetooth, WiFi, and IP communication. How does that improve building access? One of the pros at Delta Controls shared how this and other touchless technology is changing the way we work and get to work.

“Let’s take a boardroom, for example,” wrote Delta Controls’ Robert Hemmerdinger in a previous gb&d article. “In a touchless office, the door can be automated using sensors at the entrance or near-field communication between a door access point and a user’s phone. People won’t need to touch the door handle to gain access to the space. Once they’ve entered, lighting can be adjusted automatically, and temperature preferences can be input with the user’s phone.”

Hemmerdinger goes on to explain that, with a relatively low retrofit cost compared to mechanical equipment revision, control of classrooms, too, can be accomplished by a teacher’s phone. “Doors can be automated to be unlocked by staff in the same touchless manner, and motion or pressure sensors can be used to open them by students. With widespread device-level integration, teachers can control the room in the same fashion as an office,” he said.

Digital Access Systems

digilock gbd magazine

Digilock offers up products that make flexible workspaces even more secure. Photo courtesy of Digilock

Key codes, RFID tags, or Mobile IDs allow for easy access in health care scenarios, according to Diglock. “With an integrated access control system, specific personnel can be given access to one area and excluded from another. In the past each department may have been managed separately, but digital locks employ a single footprint, reducing complexity and saving everyone time,” said Richard Shaffer in a past contribution to gb&d.

Digilock also offers innovative solutions that allow building managers to limit access to any given lock by user and time of day, as well as review who has access to a storage unit or space and when, all with the click of a button. In our fast-paced era of telecommuting, flexible work arrangements, and multi-shift facilities, Digilock’s products streamline the work building managers do with a seamless experience.

Self-Powered Doors

ASSA ABLOY Door Operator how to improve building access

The plug-in 5800 Series ADAEZ is 91% more efficient, and the wireless 5800 Series ADAEZ is 100% more efficient, according to GreenCircle, as compared to similar products. Photo courtesy of ASSA ABLOY.

Automatic doors are essential to making a structure compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and ASSA ABLOY manufactures many such options, including the 5800 Series ADAEZ line of low energy door operators.

In common applications, most building occupants will use a door manually. But in the case of the ADAEZ Pro, “The energy from those opens and closes, pushes and pulls, is stored in an onboard rechargeable battery within the door operator,” Amy Musanti, director of sustainable building solutions at ASSA ABLOY, told gb&d. When a person arrives at the door and requires the use of a push-button to open it automatically, the required electricity comes from that onboard battery instead of from the grid. That push button can either be wired or, for even easier installation, triggered by radio frequency.

A door that would normally be a constant power draw is suddenly up to 100% regenerative.

Motor-Powered Locks

Wright Builders ASSA ABLOY

Wright Builders spent months sourcing ingredient lists before building the R.W. Kern Center. ASSA ABLOY made their job easier by providing Declare labels that list material ingredients for doors, locks and exit devices, hinges, door operators, accessories, and pulls. Photo courtesy of ASSA ABLOY

ASSA ABLOY’s EcoFlex electrified mortise lock is another building access solution to consider.

Unlike previous generations of commercial locking systems, in which the bolt moved using solenoid, the new iterations are powered by a step driven motor. This way, the locking system remains secure but uses dramatically less energy.

Power reductions can result in major savings for the commercial and institutional clients ASSA ABLOY serves. In general, ASSA ABLOY’s EcoFlex electrified mortise locks reduce energy use by up to 96%. The EcoFlex electrified exit trims reduce energy use by up to 95%.