SP&T News

Going green: Sustainability in security products

July 27, 2023  By James Careless

FangXiaNuo / iStock / Getty Images Plus

It is one thing to talk about providing security customers with environmentally friendly/sustainable products and services. It is another to “walk the talk” by taking actions that adhere to this commitment.

Axis Communications and HID are two companies taking sincere action in making their security products and services greener.

“HID’s 2023 State of Security and Identity Industry Report revealed how important sustainability has become to its partners, end users and security and IT personnel across a range of titles, organizations and industries,” explained Travis Hensley, HID’s global sustainability manager.

“More than 90 per cent of approximately 2,700 total respondents in HID’s March 2023 report cited sustainability as an important issue. Among integrators and installers, 76 per cent of respondents said their customers believe sustainability is increasingly important, and 62 per cent said it is ‘very important’ or ‘extremely’ important to their customers.”

Faced with such strong customer direction, HID knows what it and other security solutions providers have to do.

“It is important that access control and identity management solutions are aligned with sustainability requirements to reduce environmental impacts,” Hensley said. “Sustainability in the security industry is a big investment in the future of the environment.”

Axis Communications is another company that has made commitments to sustainability. Axis has signed on to the United Nations Sustainability Plan, said Keith D’Sa, the company’s country manager in Canada.

“A lot of people think of sustainability in terms of just the environmental impact. Essentially, ‘how much energy are you using? Do your products use diesel trucks for transportation, and are they using chemicals in the actual components of the product?’ But it also covers cybersecurity, diversity and inclusion, and human rights. It’s quite encompassing,” said D’Sa.

Energy-efficient cameras

Want to be greener? Take a look at how much power your security cameras are consuming, suggested D’Sa.

“What most people don’t realize is the largest energy consumption in a security surveillance system is actually due to the cameras,” he said. “These cameras are essentially protecting premises and large enterprise businesses, and therefore they’re running 24×7, which means that they’re drawing a ton of energy.”

A number of options exist for cutting camera power consumption. They included replacing existing cameras with lower-power options, reducing the number of cameras required by coming up with better camera placement — so that fewer cameras can provide the necessary coverage — and adding solar power for daytime operations to reduce overall electricity consumption.

Reduce power consumption on the network

Today’s security cameras are networked, and moving their data across those networks takes power. One way to reduce this power usage is through a data compression technology from Axis called Zipstream.

“It actually reduces the amount of bandwidth being used for video data transport, which reduces the traffic on the network, thus saving power,” D’Sa said. “It also significantly reduces the amount of storage required to maintain your retention policy. A lot of enterprise businesses will say, ‘Well, I need six months of recorded video.’ By using our Zipstream technology, we can realize up to 90 per cent savings in storage, which in turn is better for the environment longer term.”

Make credentials greener

HID has come up with a green access card solution called Seos Bamboo, which is made from sustainably sourced bamboo instead of PVC. This credentialing solution is part of HID’s Seos security solution and is the first in a range of physical access security Eco Cards.

“Introducing highly secure access cards made from bamboo — a renewable resource that grows quickly and requires less water and pesticides than traditional card materials — demonstrates HID’s continuous innovation without compromising security and customer experience,” said Hensley. “The bamboo card offers an additional option for sustainability within the physical access ecosystem, as it supports a more eco-friendly value chain in areas where physical access cards are still required.”

Image: HID

In addition to making access cards greener, HID’s Seos Bamboo cards can help their users attain green building certifications, including the internationally accepted Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), and the Zero Waste to Landfill certification.

Another way to make access cards greener is to do away with them physically and move credentialing to users’ smartphones. “HID has made significant progress in adopting mobile credentials to eliminate or decrease the use of plastic cards,” Hesley said. “These digital credentials not only improve convenience and as mobile devices are constantly connected, can be issued or managed or revoked online, but also saves time and resources.”

Of course, not all customers will feel comfortable relying on mobile credentials. This is especially true in hospitals and other places where it is essential to see a visible card on a clip or lanyard.

Nevertheless, “mobile credentials’ co-existence with physical cards will at least reduce what has become hundreds of millions of plastic cards sold annually,” said Hensley. “Each weighs five grams and has a carbon footprint of 21 grams (CO2 per card being calculations based on assumptions from industry standards), equating to plastic waste of 2,700 tons and an overall carbon footprint of 11,400 tons. The move to bamboo cards will also help reduce this waste and footprint problem.”

Removing chemicals

Axis Communications has set goals for the reduction and eventual elimination of Brominated and Chlorinated Flame Retardants (BFR/CFR) and Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) in its products, according to D’Sa.

“In 2022, roughly 65 per cent of our products that we launched were PVC free and roughly 90 per cent were BFR/CFR free,” D’Sa said. “We have a long-term goal to be 100 per cent BFR/CFR and PVC free by 2025.”

To achieve this goal, Axis Communications has instituted a grading system to rank its suppliers’ environmental practices, to ensure that they are meeting this company’s sustainability standards. “In the future, all of our component manufacturers must meet our requirements for sustainability,” said D’Sa.

Automation reduces energy use

When security systems are automated to align with actual 24/7 usage patterns, the power they consume can be reduced. “Further, when access control systems are integrated with building automation systems, there are even more opportunities to improve sustainability,” Hensley said.

“This is a significant trend as energy management and building automation systems increasingly combine heating and cooling, access control, lighting and other sensors. These systems reduce energy consumption based on building usage and how services like HVAC and lighting can be adjusted for energy efficiency and cost savings.”

For companies such as HID, the challenge is to combine effective security control with responsible energy consumption, so that both principles work together to their customers’ benefit. “As access control and identity management solutions are designed with sustainability in mind, businesses will be able to save resources while ensuring the highest level of security possible,” said Hensley.

The cloud saves power

It takes a lot of power to run premises-based security software, along with the materials and power used to build those servers and operate them. Moving security systems into the secure cloud can eliminate both of these resource eaters, while delivering a faster, more integrated and accessible solution to security customers.

This is why HID has moved access control to the cloud, “which can deliver seamless experiences while simplifying processes and reducing resources,” Hensley said. “Adding location services to these systems also helps advance the sustainability cause by providing real-time, actionable occupancy data for process optimization. Data from HID’s 2022 State of Physical Access Control report validates this sustainability trend. It showed that the most common way to monitor occupancy data for optimizing efficiency and making better-informed building-usage decisions is through the organization’s access control system.”

The data gathered by HID’s 2022 State of Physical Access Control report bears out this conclusion. According to HID’s research for this report, 42 percent of respondents used their access control systems to determine rates of actual employee occupancy in order to evaluate office space needs, ensure desk space was available when needed, and determine how best to manage hybrid work demands. Thirty-four per cent also used these systems to understand visitor occupancy on their premises.

“Another benefit of combining cloud-based access control with location-services capabilities is that the data it generates can also be used to help streamline and improve the accuracy of sustainability compliance monitoring and reporting,” said Hensley.

The bottom line

Security companies can help to satisfy their customers’ demand for sustainable solutions by selecting products and services made and managed in an environmentally responsible way. Better yet, they can do so secure in the knowledge that “going green” in no way degrades their customers’ current levels of security protection.


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