Security Industry Committing to a Greener Future

Motivated by the need to cut energy costs, as well as by a desire to protect the environment, many in the electronic security industry are embracing an array of “green” strategies. To identify potential areas of improvement, suppliers and security contractors alike are scrutinizing every aspect of their operations, from the front office to customer delivery and project sites.

Most suppliers nowadays use recycled material for product boxes and have reduced or eliminated packaging material detrimental to the environment. Still others are promoting internal programs that include employee participation in eco-friendly initiatives.

Pelco, for example, recently formed a “Go Green” committee with department representatives from its global facilities spearheading efforts such as eliminating unnecessary printers and launching recycling programs. Along with goals to become more energy efficient in its manufacturing processes, the company is helping take cars off the road by organizing bike-to-work campaigns, carpooling and preferred parking for hybrid cars.

“I think that everyone feels a social responsibility to do their part,” says Julie DeBenedetto, Pelco director of employee services and facilities and chairwoman of the Go Green committee. “And at Pelco we not only have the opportunity to make a difference through what we do as individuals, as employees, we also have the opportunity to set an example for eco-friendly business practices for everyone in our industry.”

Early adopters are viewing the green wave not as a complicated challenge, but instead as an opportunity to gain a competitive edge. Aaron Kahn, director of business development and co-founder of Eclipse Security Inc. in Baltimore says his company’s recycling and other efforts to lessen its environmental footprint are helping position Eclipse to win projects.

“We’re finding many of our clients are interested in going green and they want to know that we put our money where our mouth is,” he says.

Having earned a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accredited professional designation from the U.S. Green Building Council, Eclipse is better able to tap into the burgeoning trend in constructing energy-efficient buildings. Companies seeking LEED certification for their buildings must meet a minimum Energy Star Rating.

“A lot of times when we’re talking to architects or developers, they don’t take security seriously as a way to earn LEED credits,” Kahn says. “We come in and explain what we can do when we design our systems that help, and certainly won’t hinder, them from receiving LEED project credits.”

While energy prices may be fixed, security contractors are finding the cost can be controlled by adopting efficiency measures. Small changes can lead to significant savings. Among the easiest measures to adopt, experts say: turn off lights and computers when the office is not in use; replace incandescent bulbs with high-efficiency types; and install sensor-activated lights and thermostats in break rooms, restrooms, and conference rooms.

“We do lots of little things, but in this business it is the little things that add up,” says Mike Jagger, proprietor of Provident Security in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Provident also adheres to an extensive recycling program to dispose of transformers, batteries and other industrial refuse, along with common office materials. But Jagger is most proud of his company’s “paperless office” initiative. With more than 200 employees and 4,500 customers, the full-service security provider until recently consumed huge amounts of paper. No more. The essential design of a paperless concept is that office automation renders paper redundant for everyday tasks such as record-keeping and bookkeeping.

Each work space at Provident is outfitted with a scanner and the employee mandate is to move paper into the digital mainstream where it can be accessed on a central network repository. “It has an unbelievable impact on efficiency,” Jagger says, “but it also eliminates an incredible amount of paper waste.”

Renewable energy produced by windmills and solar energy has also entered the green conversation for some in the security contractor business. For the past nine months C.O.P.S Monitoring has been actively studying and researching the potential for installing a solar panel solution at its corporate offices and primary central station in Williamstown, N.J.

Although the company has solicited a few project bids – and is otherwise committed philosophically to a greener future – green-lighting the expense for what could be $3 million or more in total capital outlay is no forgone conclusion.

C.O.P.S.’ brass is deliberating weighty issues such as footing the entire cost of the project, which would afford them added tax incentives, plus the ability to sell surplus electricity to the grid. Another option would be to contract with a suppler that installs the solar units at its own cost, however, under this scenario C.O.P.S would forfeit revenue from the sale of surplus electricity.

“Determining the right time to buy the right technology is critical and that is what we’re trying to evaluate at this time,” says Dan Barberra, C.O.P.S.’ vice president of finance. “It’s an interesting time for this discussion. We feel [renewable energy] has to be a major consideration. Not just for us, but for all companies.”

Published October 1, 2008 ยท Security Sales & Integration

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