New Options and Features for Classroom Security

September 25, 2013

Unfortunately, we live in a world where the security of our schools is becoming more of a concern. For years, educators and administrators have had to find a reliable way of reacting in an emergency caused by a natural disaster, but now the threat of ill-intending humans is just as real, if not more so.

In the last decade, following the incident at Columbine High School, lock manufacturers developed a double-keyed classroom “intruder” lock that would allow locking of the outside trim from the secure side of the door. A key turn one direction would lock the outside trim, and the opposite direction would unlock the trim. This would protect the administrator or teacher from being exposed to a threat outside while security the door. Many school systems standardize on this lockset function, notably Atlanta Public Schools here in Georgia, for their classroom doors. The problem with this lock is that it can be difficult in an emergency situation to determine if indeed the outside has been locked. In the teachers’ mind, they must ask themselves, “Did I turn the key the right way, and is the door locked?” The only way to really ascertain would be to open the door and check the outside trim, thereby exposing the teacher and any students in the classroom to the threat, defeating the premise of the lockset.

PDQ Manufacturing has been a value-added manufacturer of locks for over 30 years. Recent innovations include an LED option that can be specified on the double-keyed classroom intruder lockset. When the outside trim is locked, this LED will light on the inside of the door only when the button is pressed, offering a verification that the outside trim is locked. The LED option is a small plate that mounts under the inside rose of the cylindrical lock. A watch battery powers the light, and since the LED is only lit when the button is pressed, the battery life is estimated at 10 years. If you are considering an upgrade to your facilities, please call us for a demonstration of this unit.  More information and pictures can be found by downloading the link below. We’d be glad to help!

135LED flyer

For a more “technical” solution, Alarm Lock Systems offers a LockDown solution that can be initiated from a handheld transmitter. Simultaneously pressing two buttons on the remote (3 and 4 on the picture below) will cause the lock to enter lockdown:

remoterelease

The Alarm Lock Networx lock can be used stand-alone or as part of a larger access control system. A system consists of locks (or exit trim) on the doors, a communications device (gateway) and software. The software runs on a Windows computer and the communications device is connected to the network via CAT-5 or WiFi. The gateway then communicates to the lock or locks on the premises to send programming changes, retrieve audit trails or to send global commands such as lock down or passage mode. At the computer, golbal commands can be initiated, but the unique feature to Networx is that emergency users (there are 50 allowed) can initiate global commands from a lock in the system by entering that user’s credential followed by “9-1-1″. This sends a signal to other locks in the system to lock down.  When using a remote in the system, the nearest lock picks up the command for lock down and then distributes that signal to the other locks in the system. “All clear” conditions can be initiated at a lock after a sweep has been performed. For installations where doors are not in proximity to each other, precious time is saved in securing the building or buildings.

Phillips-Langley & Associates would be pleased to help you with your campus security concerns by meeting with you and assessing your current conditions. You may use the contact form below. Our children look to all of us for their safety.

New Door Design Options from TruStile

June 27, 2013

Door Pull Dilemmas

October 5, 2012

As specifiers, we strive to make sure that the hardware we specify on an opening meets code requirements, will perform to the Owner’s expectations, is the best use of the Owner’s funds and ties in with the Architect’s design theme. As the saying goes, “the best-laid plans of mice and men…”

Here are some pictures submitted by an architect we work with where they were inquiring about the pull location.

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The doors are wide stile aluminum storefront. Our practice is to specify an entrance such as this to have one cylinder on the entrance (which requires generating two hardware sets, as the hardware for each pair is different). Doing this is a benefit to the Owner in that there’s only one cylinder on the entrance to have to worry about (security), and it saves some money by not unnecessarily duplicating hardware items. Typically, we will specify offset pulls to allow clearance for inserting keys in the cylinder to unlock the door. When we do not specify offset pulls, that is in request for a design consideration where the design professional has selected a particular pull.

Accessibility requires that the door pull not be higher than 48″ AFF, not require pinching or grasping and provide clearance for a loose fist in order to manipulate the pull. If you want to visit a discussion on door pulls in particular to accessibility, please see I Dig Hardware’s post.

Back to the project with the pictures…The offset pulls would allow for cylinder clearance and the pulls could then be mounted at an appropriate height (which should be about 10″ lower than the location in the pictures). However, the storefront supplier was apparently not considering that as you can see by the location of these pulls.

Sometimes you think you’ve done everything right, but there’s still a hitch in the execution somewhere. Have you had any similar situations?

Wood Green Standards in Georgia and Reporting Perspectives

September 11, 2012

Recently, I was shared an article from Woodworking Network entitled “Georgia Dumps LEED Wood Standard for State Buildings“. The next day, I saw a LinkedIn post on another article on the same topic entitled “Georgia Outlaws LEED in Latest “Wood Wars” Battle“. I invite you to read and compare the two articles (read each one again after reading the other) and offer your opinion: Is this a positive development for the State of Georgia?

Maine began the move to grant equal footing to the wood product certification systems back in late 2011. President Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on December 31, 2011, and part of that legislation included the prohibition of funds being used to achieve LEED Gold or Platinum, unless prior notice was given to allow those funds to be used. Now Georgia has enacted legislation (through an executive order from Governor Deal) to broaden the certification of wood products to allow certification through American Tree Farm System (ATFS) and Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) as well as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the only accepted body in current LEED requirements. Governor Deal is quoted as saying, “Recognizing all forest certifications equally will promote sustainable forestry in our state and will help create thousands of jobs.” Taking at least the first part of that statement at face value, there’s not too big a leap to say that projects themselves would also be helped in the area of regional material credit MRc5. There are no FSC-certified forests (with the category FM for Forest Management in any form) in Georgia that are producing timber for construction–the only one listed is owned by International Paper. Opening up to other accreditation avenues would perhaps enable Georgia timber farmers and harvesters to provide material on “green” projects and be able to contribute to regional material, as well.

The tone of the two articles is markedly different. I think the Woodworking  Network article title is phrased more accurately in that Georgia is opting against the FSC-controlled LEED standard for wood products, rather than the “restriction of LEED” referenced in the BuildingGreen article mentioned above and here. There is no  banning of “green building” standards as energy efficiency and sustainable practices are still sought on Georgia projects.  I, for one, applaud the efforts of both the Georgia and the Federal governments to open up the accrediting bodies to competition (in the case of Georgia) and seek to actually get a benefit for what may be an increase in cost (in the case of the Feds).  Conserving just to say we did or to get a plaque is not at the heart of conservancy. Conservancy is about being responsible with resources, among those would be time, energy and money.

Vision lites in wood doors

July 2, 2012

Lately, I’ve been receiving questions regarding locations and sizes of lite cutouts in wood doors. What is acceptable?

The issue goes beyond aesthetics, although that certainly plays into much of the decision from a design perspective. First, there is a concern with safety. Vision lites allow those exiting to see a person on the opposite side of the door and prevent hitting that person with the door, as well as allowing one seeking entrance to avoid being struck by the door.  Full-lite, half-lite or narrow lite doors will help with providing the sight lines necessary to allow for safe operation of the door.

Second, there is a concern with accessibility. Vision lites need to be low enough (when provided) to allow a person in a wheelchair to see through the door.  The 2010 ADA Standards says that the lowest point of a vision light in a door or sidelite shall not be above 43″ above the finished floor, unless the vision light is greater than 66″ above the finished floor. In that case the vision lite is exempt.

When using glass in wood doors, there is the additional concern of structure of the door, and the impact of placement and size of the glass cutout in relation to any hardware preparation in the door.  Having less than six inches between vision lite cutouts and hardware preps  (or the door edge itself) will void warranties on most particleboard core commercial doors. Oshkosh has a handy calculator for determining size and location of lite cutouts which will return whether your elevation is “Okay!” or in “Conflict!” The calculator can be found at this jump. You simply need to enter your lite kit size, hardware location and stile and rail margins.

If your design calls for a full glass cutout, small midrails or more than 40% of the door face cutout for glass then you should use a Structural Composite Lumber (SCL) core. This is a material made of strips of wood layered together to form billets of the size and thickness required. Due to the increased strength of SCL, you can have warranties on doors with more glass and smaller stiles and rails than possible with particleboard. This material also does not accept moisture as quickly as particleboard, nor does it swell as much, so this is an appropriate core to use in high-humidity applications. Here is a brief summary of the advantages of SCL: GT Series Core Advantages.

If we can help you with door design, please let us know.

What Are You Using to Clean Your Hardware?

June 12, 2012

I get LinkedIn updates from Door and Hardware Institute members and saw a post from an institutional locksmith about his plight when asked to “sanitize” some exit devices. The devices were US10B or oil-rubbed bronze. Notice my use of the word “were”. Follow this link to David’s blog post to see what happened.

I offered David some possible remedies and I’ve asked him to keep me updated on developments. I’ll pass those on to you.

Remember, oil-rubbed bronze will wear and change over time. If you have an exterior pair of doors with trim both leaves, be prepared for one pull to be come brass-colored in the gripping portion of the pull (not the other areas) and the other pull to turn green with verdigris, a result of the oxidation of the copper component of the brass/bronze substrate. What’s the difference between brass and bronze, you ask? Bronze contains tin and copper and brass contains zinc and copper. Both bronze and brass have varying copper content depending upon the use of the material. As a rule, bronze is redder in color than brass due to the higher copper content.

Easy Regional Material Credits for Georgia?

May 25, 2012

Quite often, we have questions about which manufacturers and products in our industry offer regional material credit (MR5.1 and 5.2) towards LEED qualification. There is a handy tool on the web (if you’re not already aware) that allows you to place a radius of some definable value around a point on a map. Here is a handy tool for calculating a radius around a point on a map.

The requirements for meeting the MR5 credit are up for debate as to how this mileage gets calculated: is the distance based on the final point of manufacture, or is the total distance from extraction to manufacture to project site the correct amount? I’ve asked around and the answers are varied. Here’s an example:

Premier Products, in Monroe Louisiana is 455 miles from Atlanta as the crow flies and 498 miles by road according to this map, which should get you MR5.2 credit for a project in the Atlanta area, no matter whether road miles or straight-line distance is calculated. However, much of Premier’s steel comes from an arc furnace in Columbus, MS (a rare steel manufacturer in the US!), which is 225 miles from Premier. If you consider that distance for calculating regional material credit, then the distance from Monroe drops to 175 miles.

For much of the Atlanta area, the only manufacturers that Phillips-Langley represents that would offer you MR5 credit (based on calculating distance between the point of final manufacture and the jobsite) would be MS Sedco, National Guard Products, Premier Products, and record-usa. Should you have comment to offer regarding the calculation of distance for MR5 credit, please feel free to do so.

If we can help you with information or specifications, please contact us!

Smoke Door Gasketing Discussion

May 17, 2012

I received a call from an architect this week about using existing full-glass doors to resist the passage of smoke–would they?

The requirements for a smoke door vary based on occupancy and how that opening functions within the building, and beyond that which edition of the code you are meeting. It’s all confusing as we seek to find a quick and all-encompassing answer.

Not all doors that limit the passage of smoke are required to be self-closing (think patient room doors), but most are. Not all smoke doors are fire doors. Latching is not universally required (cross-corridor rated doors in I-2 occupancies) but often is. Wait a minute, did I just say that a rated door did not have to latch? That is correct, according to the 2009 IBC. Section 710.5 allows an exception for the latch on a pair of corridor doors. Lori Greene, with I Dig Hardware/I Hate Hardware, writes about this in her blog post. If you haven’t visited that website, I would highly recommend a trip over there to see some of the discussion on codes (that’s the main focus of the site), pictures of installations and lively comments from all across the globe.

While determining what exactly meets the requirement of UL1784 may be difficult, if you look for gasketing that carries an “S” label, that makes it easier. National Guard Products has a handy little logo: to look for when you need “S” label gasketing. Should you have needs in wading through the code on a particular project, or finding a product for your application, call us to help!

Those glass doors the architect called about? Sadly, I’m afraid they’ll be pulling them out and installing something else, as the gaps are too large, and the PVC adhesive gasketing that would go on the door is not “S” labeled. That is, unless the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) grants a variance, and that’s the story of another blog post…

Updates to LEED offerings

May 2, 2012

Last year, the demise of a supplier brought changes in the wood door industry. We have posted about agrifiber (wheatstraw) cores being available to meet rapidly-renewable credits under LEED MR6. The supplier that Oshkosh Door was using has filed bankruptcy, and as such this offering is no longer available. Personally, we’re fans of the agrifiber core here at Phillips-Langley and we hope to see this core material return.

Please see the new LEED offering product grid from Oshkosh below.

LEED Opportunities

If we can help you with cost-benefit analysis of seeking LEED credits in the realm of doors and door hardware, please feel free to contact us.

It’s a New Year

February 10, 2012

The calendar has flipped to 2012 and we’re beginning a new year. I think many are happy to see the last year in the rear-view mirror, in hopes that this year will be better than the past. I join in that sentiment, but am not without concern. The construction market seems to be brightening somewhat, perhaps from pent-up demand, but there is still the specter of the debt/mortgage fallout and wondering if the “other shoe will drop” in the form of bank defaults and other business failures due to the weak environment and competitiveness in the construction industry. We can’t do much individually to change that, so we’ll just try to maintain or reduce expenses and work hard to bring in all the work we can. To that, we are thankful for the business folks have chosen to send our way–we are most appreciative and realize that you chose to conduct business with us.

Along the lines of working smart, we’ll exploring some technological changes, and one of those is an Andriod OS phone. Moving from Blackberry, there is a bit of a learning curve, but so far the capabilities seem greater. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit one of our projects that we specified for the Perkins + Will Atlanta office, a renovation and expansion of Benjamin E. Mays High School for the Atlanta Public School system. The school was originally built in 1981 and the project consisted of an update to the existing school in the way of technology and aesthetics.

Here is a photograph demonstrating the panorama photo tool on the phone. It was simple to take!


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