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Sustainability and security: exploring what the security industry is doing to be more sustainable

Sustainability By Chadik Miah, Director of Security – 26 October 2021

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Chadik Miah

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As part of a multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy practice we, as security consultants, look at innovative ways of doing what we can to champion sustainability across all of our projects. This goes from high level consulting advice to engineering solutions design. We use a layered approach to security methodology that can also be used to demonstrate our sustainability credentials and includes how we advise our clients on designing out security vulnerability through site layout and landscaping, security infrastructure and technology, discussed in more detail below;

Site layout and landscaping.
Advising on setbacks to and location of critical assets, using level changes and natural landscaping features to develop perimeter defences to create barriers and control access, creating sense of ownership and opportunities for natural surveillance of spaces, in line with Crime Prevention Through Environment Design (CPTED) principals. These provide a suitable level of security to a site or building without the need to install or retrofit physical security measures or enhance building structures and facades and thereby reducing the environmental impact and man-made material usage. To put this as simply as it gets, a row of trees and other landscaping features such as berms created by recycling soil waste can be as affective but far more sustainable than installing a row of bollards as a hostile vehicle deterrent.

Advising on specification of electronic security solutions that all communicate via a common IT network infrastructure, meaning that less proprietary cabling is needed, less power is consumed and that these systems operate more efficiently, reducing man-made material and natural resource usage, and reducing carbon emissions and energy usage.

Advising on the design of electronic security solutions that have more inbuilt intelligence so that the security of a building or site can be managed remotely, and multiple sites can be managed from a single facility meaning that less security staff are needed to operate them and less journeys to sites are needed reducing carbon emissions and energy usage.

As an independent consultancy practice we engage with security manufacturers of physical security products (including perimeter fencing, vehicle and pedestrian barriers, and hostile vehicle mitigation solutions) and electronic security solutions (including access control and video surveillance) to ensure that we are fully educated on the latest technology available. This means that we can provide our clients with the best possible advice for their people, their property, and their assets.

The majority of these manufacturers are global businesses, with corporate sustainability plans and 2030 to 2050 net zero carbon goals. So they have recognised that they have a duty to be more sustainable and that this is something that their clients expect from them.

We are seeing general trends across various security product businesses which are discussed in more detail below:

  • Physical security manufacturers are developing products that utilise ethical and sustainably resourced materials, have zero waste to landfill policies and are looking to review and reduce CO2 emissions across their businesses including carrying out life cycle assessment of each of their manufactured products.
  • Electronic Security manufacturers are lowering their CO2 emissions across all aspects of their business, utilising carbon offsets for business travel by air and air transport of product, utilising renewable energy sources for offices, developing products with a higher content of recycled plastic, striving to eliminate the use of hazardous substances within products and developing products that combine multiple functions into a single device to save on manufacturing material and supporting power and infrastructure.
  • The majority of manufacturers are considering their distribution and supply chain effectiveness and are looking for ways to reduce the quantity of shipments of products to their customers, utilising recycled packaging material and converting their own vehicle fleets to electric as soon as they are able to.

All of the above demonstrates a major industry shift within the security industry around sustainability and sustainable development across the whole project lifecycle from consultancy to design to manufacture delivery, installation and in use operation. As we are still early in this shift it is important to navigate the true sustainable breakthroughs from the greenwash and to guarantee quality of outcomes whilst being sustainable. At Cundall we have found that an interesting process and we would be delighted to discuss it with you for your next project or development, including how we are advising all our clients on carbon reduction as part of our ‘Zero Carbon Design 2030’ initiative.