Johnson Controls recently unveiled the findings of its 2018 Energy Efficiency Indicator (EEI) survey that examined the current and planned investments and key drivers to improve energy efficiency and building systems integration in facilities.

Systems integration was identified as one of the top technologies expected to have the biggest impact on the implementation in smart buildings over the next five years, with respondents planning to invest in security, fire and life-safety integrations more so than any other systems integration in the next year.

As advanced, connected technologies drive the evolution of smart buildings, security and safety technologies are at the center of more intelligent strategies as they attribute to overall building operations and efficiencies.

SecurityInformed.com spoke with Johnson Controls, Building Solutions, North America, VP of Marketing, Hank Monaco, and Senior National Director of Municipal Infrastructure and Smart Cities, Lisa Brown, about the results of the study, smart technology investments and the benefits of a holistic building strategy that integrates security and fire and life-safety systems with core building systems.


Q: What is the most striking result from the survey, and what does it mean in the context of a building’s safety and security systems?

The results show an increased understanding about the value of integrating safety and security systems with other building systems

Hank Monaco: Investment in building system integration increased 23 percent in 2019 compared to 2018, the largest increase of any measure in the survey. When respondents were asked more specifically what systems they we planning to invest in over the next year, fire and life safety integration (61%) and security system integration (58%) were the top two priorities for organizations.

The results show an increased understanding about the value of integrating safety and security systems with other building systems to improve overall operations and bolster capabilities beyond the intended function of an individual system.


Q: The survey covers integration of fire, life safety and security systems as part of "smart building" systems. How do smarter buildings increase the effectiveness of security and life safety systems?

Hank Monaco: A true “smart building” integrates all building systems – security, fire and life-safety, HVAC, lighting etc. – to create a connected, digital infrastructure that enables individual technologies to be more intelligent and perform more advanced functions beyond what they can do on their own.

For example, when sensors and video surveillance are integrated with lighting systems, if abnormal activity is detected on the building premise, key stakeholders can be automatically alerted to increase emergency response time. With integrated video surveillance, they also gain the ability to access surveillance footage remotely to assess the situation.

A true “smart building” integrates all building systems – security, fire and life-safety, HVAC, lighting etc.
When sensors and video surveillance are integrated with lighting systems abnormal activity on the premise can automatically be detected

Q: How can integrated security and life safety systems contribute to greater energy efficiency in a smart building environment?

Hank Monaco: Security, fire and life-safety systems can help to inform other building systems about how a facility is used, high-trafficked areas and the flow of occupants within a building. Integrated building solutions produce a myriad of data that can be leveraged to increase operational efficiencies.

From an energy efficiency standpoint, actionable insights are particularly useful for areas that are not frequently occupied or off-peak hours as you wouldn’t want to heat or cool an entire building for just one person coming in on the weekend.

When video surveillance is integrated with HVAC and lighting systems, it can monitor occupancy in a room or hallway. The video analytics can then control the dimming of lights and the temperature depending on occupant levels in a specific vicinity.

Similarly, when access control systems are integrated with these same systems, once a card is presented to the reader, it can signal the lights or HVAC system to turn on. In this example, systems integration can ultimately help enable energy savings in the long run.

From an energy efficiency standpoint, actionable insights are useful for areas that are not frequently occupied
Security and life safety systems contribute to help enable greater energy efficiency and energy savings in the long run

Q: What other benefits of integration are there (beyond the core security and life safety functions)?

Hank Monaco: Beyond increased security, fire and life-safety functions, the benefits of systems integration include:

  • Increased data and analytics to garner a holistic, streamlined understanding of how systems function and how to improve productivity
  • Ability to track usage to increase efficiency and reduce operational costs
  • Enhanced occupant experience and comfort
  • Increased productivity and workflow to support business objectives
  • Smart-ready, connected environment that can support future technology advancements

Q: What lesson or action point should a building owner/operator take from the survey? How can the owner of an existing building leverage the benefits of the smart building environment incrementally and absent a complete overhaul?

Lisa Brown: Johnson Controls Energy Efficiency Indicator found that 77% of organizations plan to make investments in energy efficiency and smarter building technology this year. This percentage demonstrates an increased understanding of the benefits of smart buildings and highlights the proactive efforts building owners are taking to adopt advanced technologies.

There is an increased understanding that buildings operate more effectively when different building systems are connected

As smart buildings continue to evolve, more facilities are beginning to explore opportunities to advance their own spaces. A complete overhaul of legacy systems is not necessary as small investments today can help position a facility to more easily adopt technologies at scale in the future.

As a first step, it’s important for building owners to conduct an assessment and establish a strategy that defines a comprehensive set of requirements and prioritizes use-cases and implementations. From there, incremental investments and updates can be made over a realistic timeline.


Q: What is the ROI of smart buildings?

Lisa Brown: As demonstrated by our survey, there is an increased understanding that buildings operate more effectively when different building systems are connected. The advanced analytics and more streamlined data that is gathered through systems integration can provide the building-performance metrics to help better understand the return on investment (ROI) of the building systems.

This data is used to better understand the environment and make assessments and improvements overtime to increase efficiencies. Moreover, analytics and data provide valuable insights into where action is needed and what type of return can be expected from key investments.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

In case you missed it

How is AI Changing the Security Market?
How is AI Changing the Security Market?

Artificial intelligence is more than just the latest buzzword in the security marketplace. In some cases, smarter computer technologies like AI and machine learning (ML) are helping to transform how security operates. AI is also expanding the industry’s use cases, sometimes even beyond the historic province of the security realm. It turns out that AI is also a timely tool in the middle of a global pandemic. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How is artificial intelligence (AI) changing the security market?

Moving to Sophisticated Electric Locking
Moving to Sophisticated Electric Locking

In part one of this feature, we introduced the shotbolt – a solenoid actuator – as the workhorse at the heart of most straightforward electric locking systems. Shotbolts remain at the core of most sophisticated electric locking solutions as well. But they are supplemented by materials and technologies that provide characteristics suited to specialist security applications. Here we look at some more demanding electric locking applications and contemporary solutions. Preventing forced entry Where the end of the shotbolt is accessible, the electric holding force can be overcome by physical force. That’s why anti-jacking technology is now a frequent feature of contemporary electric solenoid lock actuators. Anti-jacking, dead-locking or ‘bloc’ technology (the latter patented by MSL) is inherent to the way the locking assembly is designed to suit the requirements of the end application. The patented bloc anti-jacking system is highly effective and incorporated into many MSL shotbolts deployed in electric locking applications. The bloc technology uses a ring of steel balls in a shaped internal housing to physically jam the actuated bolt in place. A range of marine locks is widely used on Superyachts for rapid lockdown security from the helm Real life applications for MSL anti-jacking and bloc-equipped shotbolts include installation in the back of supermarket trucks to secure the roller shutter. Once locked from the cab, or remotely using radio technology, these shutters cannot be forced open by anyone with ‘undesirable intentions’ armed with a jemmy. A range of marine locks is widely used on Superyachts for rapid lockdown security from the helm. While anti-jacking features are an option on these shotbolts, consideration was given to the construction materials to provide durability in saltwater environments. Marine locks use corrosion-proof stainless steel, which is also highly polished to be aesthetically pleasing to suit the prestigious nature of the vessel while hiding the innovative technology that prevents the lock being forced open by intruders who may board the craft. Rotary and proportional solenoids sound unlikely but are now common A less obvious example of integrated technology to prevent forced override is a floor lock. This lock assembly is mounted beneath the floor with round-top stainless-steel bolts that project upwards when actuated. They are designed to lock all-glass doors and are arguably the only discreet and attractive way to lock glass doors securely. In a prestigious installation at a historic entranceway in Edinburgh University, the floor locks are remotely controlled from an emergency button behind the reception desk. They act on twin sets of glass doors to quickly allow the doors to close and then lock them closed with another set of subfloor locks. No amount of stamping on or hitting the 15mm protruding bolt pin will cause it to yield, thus preventing intruders from entering. Or leaving! Explosion proofing In many environments, electric locking technology must be ATEX certified to mitigate any risk of explosion. For example, remote electric locking is used widely on oil and gas rigs for stringent access control, general security and for emergency shutter release in the event of fire. It’s also used across many industrial sectors where explosion risks exist, including flour milling, In many environments, electric locking technology must be ATEX certified to mitigate any risk of explosionpowder producers, paint manufacture, etc. This adds a new dimension to the actuator design, demanding not only intrinsically safe electrical circuits and solenoid coils, but the careful selection of metals and materials to eliminate the chance of sparks arising from moving parts. Resilience under pressure The technology boundaries of solenoids are always being pushed. Rotary and proportional solenoids sound unlikely but are now common. More recently, while not directly related to security in the traditional sense, proportional solenoid valves for accurately controlling the flow of hydrogen and gases now exist. Magnet Schultz has an extensive and somewhat innovative new range of hydrogen valves proving popular in the energy and automotive sectors (Fig. 2-6). There’s a different kind of security risk at play here when dealing with hydrogen under pressures of up to 1050 bar. Bio security Less an issue for the complexity of locking technology but more an imperative for the effectiveness of an electric lock is the frequent use of shotbolts in the bio research sector. Remote electric locking is commonplace in many bioreactor applications. Cultures being grown inside bioreactors can be undesirable agents, making 100% dependable locking of bioreactor lids essential to prevent untimely access or the unwanted escape of organisms. Again, that has proven to be topical in the current climate of recurring coronavirus outbreaks around the world. More than meets the eye In part one, I started by headlining that there’s more to electric lock actuation in all manner of security applications than meets the eye and pointed out that while electric locking is among the most ubiquitous examples of everyday security, the complexity often involved and the advanced technologies deployed typically go unnoticed.Integrating the simplest linear actuator into a complex system is rarely simple For end users, that’s a very good thing. But for electro-mechanical engineers designing a system, it can present a challenge. Our goal at Magnet Schultz is to provide a clearer insight into today’s electric locking industry sector and the wide range of locking solutions available – from the straightforward to the specialized and sophisticated. Integrating the simplest linear actuator into a complex system is rarely simple. There’s no substitute for expertise and experience, and that’s what MSL offers as an outsource service to designers. One benefit afforded to those of us in the actuator industry with a very narrow but intense focus is not just understanding the advantages and limitations of solenoid technology, but the visibility of, and participation in, emerging developments in the science of electric locking. Knowing what’s achievable is invaluable in every project development phase.

Key Considerations for Robust Residential Security
Key Considerations for Robust Residential Security

In the UK, one burglary occurs every 106 seconds. This means by the time you've finished reading this article, at least three will have taken place. Selecting robust physical security options to protect property boundaries and homes is essential to limit crime rates and deter opportunistic intruders. With 58% of burglaries said to take place while the homeowner is in, it seems that even the second wave of lockdowns, and an increased number of people confined to their homes, won't do much to eliminate the risk of burglary. Prioritise security for peace of mind Security is paramount, and in the case of new build projects, should be considered from the very beginning of the design process, not as an afterthought. When it comes to securing pre-existing buildings, there are countless security options which will ensure the perimeter is robust enough to withstand opportunistic attacks. It's also worth noting that security features don't have to be complicated. There are plenty of high-tech digital systems flooding the market, which can go a long way to reduce the risk of burglary and will provide peace of mind to the end user. However, this article will demonstrate how traditional security measures, such as high-quality perimeter fencing, can ensure practical safeguarding of properties for years to come.  Selecting robust physical security options to protect property boundaries and homes is essential to limit crime rates Timber! There are a number of different materials which can be specified to create a strong boundary. From metal railings, to timber fence panels, they will each help deter criminals somewhat. Wooden fence panels are a popular choice for their appearance, and the right product and installation can help to increase security.Our timber acoustic fencing can also reduce noise by up to 32dB and has a solid face with no hand or footholds, while still retaining the attractive natural timber aesthetic of a typical garden fence. However, maintenance is key, and one of the first thing burglars will notice is the condition a fence is in, rather than a particular style. Therefore, old, broken or rotten fence panels are a green light for opportunistic thieves. These can be easily broken or bypassed with minimal effort. When specifying fences as part of a new build housing development, we would suggest opting for high-quality timber, as this will ensure that it is protected against rot. Look for products with an extended guarantee or those that don't need additional treatment over the years. The condition of the fence should still be regularly inspected, and simple methods such as clearing piles of leaves away from the base of the boundary can help to prevent rot which weakens the timber.  Securing fence panels The recent rising cost of timber has led to a dramatic increase in fence panel theft, and panels that can be lifted from the posts are an easy target. Mitigate this risk by screwing the fence panels into the posts. This makes it much harder for the panels to be removed from the posts and creates a more secure barrier.  Concrete posts do offer benefits, but we always advise on timber posts for any fencing. They're strong, just like concrete, but they continue the same natural theme as the rest of the fence. Moreover, if you screwed the panels to concrete posts, they would most likely crack and become damaged, and then be at risk to the elements.  Astute design Design is also important. Installing fence rails on the inside of properties to prevent them from being used as climbing aids is highly recommended. Even better, using panels without rails on high-end developments is a clever tip if you want a secure fence with a high-spec look. Security features don't have to be complicated High fences with solid panels and no gaps in between make it considerably harder for potential burglars to climb over. They also offer better privacy to conceal rear garden areas from intruders, and are much sturdier than other alternative panels.  One common mistake is designing in features such as trees or children's climbing frames too close to the boundary. These can be used by burglars as climbing aids when attempting to scale the fence, making access easy. Investigate the surrounding area, which flanks the outside of the property boundary, as an unfortunately placed bin or bench can also help criminals gain entry. If the removal of these items is not possible, designing in a spiky bush can help deter intruders. It's also worth noting that gardens with numerous large features such as bushes or sheds can also negatively impact the level of security. A clear line of sight across the entire garden is highly recommended where possible. If this view is blocked, it's considerably easy for intruders to hide undetected. Front gardens  While tall, solid fence panels are recommended for rear gardens to prevent intruders from being able to see in and climb over, the opposite is true for front gardens. For street-facing gardens, a low fence or hedge is recommended to provide a clear view from the house. It also makes it much harder for intruders to hide from passers-by or neighbours, who can raise the alarm during a burglary. Another useful security technique to consider is a gravel drive. These create noise, which means the homeowner will know when it is in use. Pair this with a strong boundary fence, the likelihood of burglary dramatically decreases. This article only scratches the surface in unveiling the sheer volume of effective home security options on offer to protect homes and gardens. These investments can help minimize the risk of traumatic break-ins, while also simultaneously boosting the aesthetic of the property and its surroundings.