Some businesses and consumers are not on board the green bus with the U.S. the most cynical.

Look at the bottom of a few emails these days. After the signature and before the security warning that “This electronic message may contain proprietary and confidential information,” there is the gentle suggestion that not printing out the email will be a green thing to do. But, in today’s cynical world, where global warming is a laugh track to some, does one sheet of paper make a difference?

It sure does. In fact, there are scores of green email signatures available to download on the Internet.
For enterprise security leaders, there are additional ways, big and small, expensive and inexpensive, to go green. And taking some type of action brings green to the bottom line as well as aligns with a growing number of corporate cultures which see value in doing the right thing.

Whatever else the security organization does, it almost certainly has an energy dependency, and it almost certainly uses and relies on information and communications technology. Energy is an expensive commodity; security and IT infrastructure and their running costs are substantial. A business cost containment strategy is one that has direct, quantifiable benefits to the budget as well as in the eyes of customers and throughout the global climate. From a simplistic perspective, it doesn’t really matter whether an organization is motivated by a desire to save the planet or simply to save money, the result of pursuing a green security strategy includes both.

No doubt, it is easier to institute green values in new construction as compared to renovations and retrofits.

Still, existing buildings can reconfigure for energy efficiency, sustainability and design innovation. One example is KeyCorp’s new high-tech, contemporary office space in the heart of downtown Cleveland. The financial services firm renovated and refurbished three floors – about 221,000 square feet – of the historic Higbee Building on Public Square. The firm, through its KeyBank operation, has a recognized security force including Thomas Eston, corporate information security; Troy Thomas, chief security and privacy officer, KeyBank corporate security; and Robert Dunn, director, corporate investigations.

Approximately 1,000 Key employees – about 20 percent of Key’s Cleveland-based workforce – occupy the space, which retains a number of architectural elements of the historic Cleveland department store while at the same time anticipates changes in work styles and needs of employees and the highest standards for energy conservation and the environment.

Secured Meeting Places

The floors have secured wireless access throughout, and power and LAN access are integrated into all work surfaces and tables, including “touch down” offices for short-term projects. There are “work bars” for visitors, and formal and casual meeting areas are equipped with flat-screen TVs for online access and presentations. Security, it turns out, has also been designed in.

No matter a new or old facility, there are some specific areas where green can more easily become golden for a security operation.

The monitoring center or command and control with video and access control equipment, computers, servers, storage devices – all that stuff eats up electricity and often demands air-conditioning, rack mounting and special flooring more than a typical office environment. Integrating card access control with building controls, including HVAC and lighting, also has a bottom line benefit.

Then there is building performance monitoring. Green building is not a singular event in the life of a building or community. Rather, it is an on-going process of continuous improvement and transformation. Today, this is reflected in a coordinated set of systems that address neighborhoods, building design and construction, and building operation and maintenance.

In Chicago, a 1920s commercial office building has won LEED Platinum status at the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), which created an energy-efficient workplace using sustainable materials at a cost comparable to a conventional renovation. About five percent of electricity is generated by photovoltaic panels. Operable, energy-efficient windows provide daylight, views, and fresh air. The secured building is located near several public transit options, has onsite bike racks and shower facilities, and has designated parking for carpool and rideshare vehicles. A native plant garden requires no irrigation and absorbs storm water runoff from the roof.

CNT engaged a third-party commissioning agent who reviewed design and construction documents, verified the proper installation and functional performance of the building systems, and provided appropriate training and operation and maintenance documentation.

Sensors and Interfaces

The University of Florida plan is to develop sensors and user interfaces – connected to security and life safety gear – that will allow building occupants to better control the building temperature and enable the building to better sense and automatically respond to occupants. The team will also be designing new HVAC equipment and building exteriors, or envelopes, to improve the speed and efficiency with which buildings could respond to occupants.

To meet the energy-reduction target, university researchers are developing a wide range of technologies, including next-generation wireless sensors, HVAC equipment, building envelope designs and human-computer interfaces. They will use sensors to monitor electric and water loads, occupant motion in buildings, door and window positions, light, temperature and humidity. On the most basic level, the sensors and computer systems would allow a building to automatically detect when certain rooms are occupied and then automatically activate the heating or cooling system. The research becomes more complex when considering issues such as predicting when people would return to a building so that the system can preheat or pre-cool spaces, the cost of sensors and the return on investment from energy savings.

Cutting Down the Footprint

Government facilities are big green players. The Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center has achieved LEED Gold certification. Including its security and life safety systems, the facility opened in 2008 and is operated by the Gettysburg Foundation in partnership with the National Park Service. “Our certification at the Gold level highlights the Foundation’s and the National Park Service’s commitment to environmental responsibility and preservation,” says Gettysburg Foundation Chairman Robert A. Kinsley. “When ground was broken for the facility back in 2005, we always had our sights set on achieving a certain level of environmental sustainability. We are thrilled that we have been able to exceed those goals as we work to preserve not only our past but also our future.”

Alternative energy sources are a potential green tool. For instance, the New York Jets National Football League team has a solar power system at the Jets’ team headquarters and training center in Florham Park, N.J. It powers a number of building systems. “The New York Jets are excited to be at the forefront of incorporating solar energy into the NFL. When we decided to add solar energy to the Atlantic Health Training Center, going green was the catalyst,” says Thad Sheely, New York Jets' executive vice president of finance and stadium development. “This project is the first of many green initiatives on behalf of the team, and we are proud to be green in color and also in deed.”

LED Lighting

The evolution to LED lighting can also make a green impact.

Chicago’s DePaul University has installed energy-efficient LED lights by replacing 210 watt metal halide lights in its parking garage with 90 watt LED lights, which reportedly use less than half the energy of the previous lights, and will save the university thousands of dollars per year in energy and maintenance costs while providing more uniform light on the ground and increased visibility and campus safety. In addition to using 60-percent less energy, the lights are designed to be maintenance-free, requiring no bulb replacements for approximately six years. LED lights are extremely durable and robust in challenging environments, such as high-traffic outdoor areas. Parking garages are an ideal application for energy-saving LED lighting, given that parking garage lights are often on 24 hours per day, seven days per week. In addition to consuming less than half the energy, LED lights are more durable than traditional metal halide lights, making them ideal to stand up to the constant vibration of traffic.

For security operations with vehicles, a green touch is electrically-powered units. In a number of cities, buildings and parking garages, there are a growing number of units aimed at making charging for the coming revolution of hybrid electric vehicles simple, intuitive and free.

There are honors for going green, in addition to cost savings.

Redwood City, Calif.-based received Green America’s People's Choice Award for Green Business of the Year. The award, which is given based on consumers from around the country nominating and voting for their favorite green company, was presented at the recent San Francisco Green Festival.

Still, enterprise security leaders and their corporate colleagues may need to overcome disbelieving attitudes.

It turns out that the United States is one of the more environmentally cynical nations in the world with only 62 percent of the population believing that environmental pollution is a serious issue, according to the Green Gauge Global report from GfK Roper Consulting, a division of GfK Custom Research North America. It ranks the U.S. 24th out of 25 markets around the world – close to dead last.

“In the U.S. and around the world, marketers are being challenged by consumers to produce better green products that don’t cost too much. To that end, security buyers and organizations need to be cognizant of the distinctive perceptions and attitudes about green products in order to convey these products as a smart, pragmatic purchase,” says Timothy Kenyon, director of the GfK Roper Green Gauge study at GfK Custom Research North America.