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IFSEC Insider, formerly IFSEC Global, is the leading online community and news platform for security and fire safety professionals.
April 22, 2022


State of Physical Access Trend Report 2024

Access control systems

A guide to the sustainability benefits of wireless access control

With issues around climate change and ‘greener business’ always in the headlines, many organisations want to enhance their procedures. Security, facilities and building management teams can play a role — by switching access control to a wire-free solution. ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions EMEIA Product Marketing Director, Thomas Schulz, provides a guide to wireless access control and how it can contribute to any organisation’s sustainability strategy.

In a survey for IFSEC Global’s “Wireless Access Control Report 2021”, 90% of industry professionals agreed sustainability would influence their future commissioning of security technology. In the mission to make buildings both “greener” and “smarter”, access control has a major role to play.


The importance of sustainability for access control

The UN Environment Programme estimates that buildings consume around 60% of the world’s electricity. It makes sense, then, that the World Green Building Council identifies energy efficiency as one essential feature in any “green building”. All technologies employed inside a building can help to reduce its footprint.

Motives for ‘greening’ buildings can also go beyond altruism. According to the Harvard Business Review, energy efficiency has become one of the “key levers for business success”. For property owners or developers, evidence suggests “green certification” for a building increases rental value by as much as 12%.

In environmental certification schemes such as LEED and BREEAM, energy efficiency is a key assessment criterion. Measurable improvements in energy performance can help ensure a new build or retrofit receives its desired award.

What is wireless access control and how does it work?

As filtering access to premises developed beyond lock-and-key technology, the first electronic solutions relied on cables. Despite being invasive and expensive to fit, these wired locks gave security and facility managers much greater control.

Door technology has now evolved further. The same features are available without the expense or intrusion of wires, as a new generation of wireless locks combines enhanced security with a leap forward in convenience and flexibility. Because they are faster and more cost-efficient to install, these wireless locks help facility managers extend control within their premises further than ever before.

Case #1: Battery-powered wireless locks in a care home

The Tegs Äldrecenter in Umeå, Sweden, chose around 100 battery powered Aperio door devices from ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions. These locks integrate wirelessly with the centre’s Tidomat access control solution, with no need for mains electricity.

As well as enabling residents to move around in safety and convenience, Aperio helps the facility reduce its energy consumption. “We offer our customers energy savings and extended access control in one,” says Lennart Eriksson, Tidomat’s CEO.

Tegs’ energy-efficient access control installation is flexible and future-proofed: Umeå Social Services can bring more premises into the same management system whenever they choose.

They also provide the choice and flexibility which modern facilities management demands. Wireless locks may be powered by batteries or innovative energy harvesting technology. The choice of credentials is maximised: smartcards or fobs, electronic keys or mobile credentials, or a combination of them all within one unified access system.

How can wireless access control contribute to sustainability goals?

The main advantage in choosing wireless over traditional wired access control is energy efficiency. A wireless access control device consumes less power at every stage of its life-cycle.

Cable-free fitting is much faster, requiring fewer installer journeys to and from a facility. It is also less intrusive: Leading wireless locks require little or no drilling around the door, whereas wired access control needs cabling through and partly around the door.

ASSAABLOY-MobileAccess-21Wireless locks also work more efficiently. Instead of needing an ‘always on’ mains electricity connection to power their locking magnets, they only ‘wake up’ when presented with a credential. By deploying battery powered wireless locks, companies can expect significant energy savings during operation: more than 70% reduction, or thousands of euros over an installation’s lifetime, according to one recent benchmarking study.

These devices can enjoy an extended lifetime, too. They can usually be moved when spaces are reconfigured — unlike wired locks. Maintenance requirements are minimal: All they need is a new standard battery every two years (on average), which again cuts unnecessary technician and contractor journeys.

Wireless locks for the future: energy harvesting and mobile keys

Energy use in operation is eliminated altogether when locks are powered by energy harvesting technology. These so called ‘self-powered’ locks do not require batteries, or any external electricity source at all.

With key-based wireless access control based on this technology, for example, the locks’ electronics harvest energy from the turning of a paired key. Kinetic energy from the keyholder is recycled to power communication between credential, device and the central access control system.

“Energy harvesting technology is expected to play a leading role as a technical enabler in the advancement of smart cities and societies,” writes Hiroyuki Akinaga of the Japan Science and Technology Agency.

Case #2: Energy-harvesting wireless locks in a multi-family housing block

Metsäpurontie 20 — a housing cooperative in Maunula, Helsinki — chose an access solution with energy harvesting technology. PULSE key-based access control operates without any external power source: no wires, no batteries.

Opening a PULSE lock is simple. A user inserts their programmable PULSE key. Energy generated by inserting and turning is harvested to power the lock’s encrypted electronic security. If the system authorizes the key, the lock opens.

Key handling is straightforward with PULSE. Users are issued with one key pre-programmed with all their cleared permissions, no matter how many locks they need to open.

PULSE does much of the heavy lifting in daily multi-residence security management. Keys and cylinders are reusable and reprogrammable, making tenant turnover fast and cost-free. Because PULSE’s cloud-based management software logs events, incident investigation takes a few clicks. Key blacklisting is easily automated via user keys.

The choice of credentials available with leading wireless solutions can also contribute to improved sustainability performance. The latest generation of locks support mobile keys — smartphone-based credentials which communicate with the wireless lock via NFC or Bluetooth.

With mobile keys, no smartcards or fobs are required, reducing unnecessary use of plastics. Similarly, when users can update their hard credentials via a smartphone app with a Bluetooth connection, mobile workers drive fewer miles and waste less fuel.

“Plus, there are wider benefits for buildings when using these solutions. For example, a higher number of monitored access points ensures doors are properly closed which can, in turn, improve a building’s thermal efficiency.”

Download a free copy of The Wireless Access Control Report 2021.

Keep up with the wireless access control market

Download this free report to find out more about:

  • The current state of wireless access control solutions in the market
  • The rising popularity of mobile access control
  • Awareness of cyber security regulations and how this relates to access control
  • The growing use of the cloud and ACaaS to manage access systems
  • How your choice of access control solution can impact sustainability

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