WHAT'S THE PASSWORD?
- By Charlie Sasso
- July 1st, 2004
The new Clackamas High School, in Clackamas, Ore., was designed to strike a balance with its surroundings by optimizing daylighting, ventilation and solar access for energy efficiency and conservation. The school’s practical use of security and access control measures shows the same thoughtful, balanced approach.
The new 265,255-sq.-ft. campus replaces one that was built in 1957 and was more than 100,000 sq. ft. smaller. The facility has a current student body of approximately 1,850, with a capacity of 2,100 students. It encompasses four two-story academic houses with a library between. Wings include classrooms and teacher workspace, a central commons that seats 750 and counseling and administration suites. The four-year school includes a fine arts wing and indoor physical education areas, but vocational and technical training is provided at a separate Skills Center that serves the district’s three high schools. The 40-square-mile North Clackamas School District operates 26 schools that serve about 17,000 students.
The new campus was designed to be energy-efficient, with an eye toward simple yet effective solutions, and the building’s access control system follows a similar, practical approach. Dave Church, director of physical plants for the district, explains, “we spent a lot of time on solar orientation of the building. We have light shelves that filter in the outside light at different angles, and we have a state-of-the-art climate control system that uses very small boilers that operate only when necessary. The building uses natural heating and ventilation whenever possible. Every light is computer-controlled, with sensors in the classrooms to measure ambient light and adjust the level accordingly.’’ The payoff is in energy cost savings. According to Church, the energy bills for the new building are virtually identical to those of the old school it replaced, although the new school is twice the size.
Security Planned for Effectiveness
When planning the new school, the district approached security in the same way, stressing effectiveness and practical applications. Computerization and electronic credentials are used where needed, but simpler solutions also are applied whenever they will deliver the desired results.
A case in point is the exit devices used to provide safe emergency egress from offices, classrooms and the building itself. Every exterior device is wired so it can be “dogged down’’ (retracted) electrically from one of two central office locations. This allows the school’s entrances to be opened up simultaneously or at selected locations through a computer program, without the need for a custodian to open each entrance manually.
If an emergency lockdown situation occurs, all doors can be locked at once to protect the perimeter, while the exit devices still allow safe egress for those inside. Interior doors are equipped with a cylinder on the inside so the door can be locked down without the teacher having to go into the corridor, which could be unsafe. For pairs of doors, one exit device is lockable to prevent entrance, but the devices still allow occupants to exit. The combination of central unlocking control for perimeter doors with individual inside locking for interior doors provides the security needed without excess cost or complication.
All building entrances are equipped with proximity card readers that allow authorized individuals to enter. Church says, “you swipe your card across the reader, and it will unlock the door. Then you go inside and swipe it on the controller or enter some numbers, and it will deactivate the alarm. We have nine different zones of control.” He says cards can be issued to allow access only to the gym, auditorium or cafeteria for scheduled community activities. The cards activate exit devices with electric latch retraction or electric strikes to allow entry during specified times. Church explains,“On Saturday night, they may have a play in the auditorium, so people can get into the central core, but everything else is locked off.’’ Corridor fire/security doors are held open by electromagnetic holders during school hours, but are closed and locked to partition the building for community usage. The holders also release automatically if the fire and smoke alarm system is activated, allowing the LCN closers to shut the doors and protect the area.
Keys are issued for access to the building, but only to those with an ongoing need. To prevent unauthorized duplication, the school uses the Schlage Primus system, primarily on exterior doors and high-security interior doors such as computer labs. Church says, “we use the cylinders on doors where more security is needed and the standard keyway for other interior doors.’’ Interchangeable cores are used throughout. According to Church, a district locksmith handles all rekeying, and the interchangeable cores make changing easier when necessary. He notes that key control is handled by the school’s principal, who is responsible for determining who should have access.
Another practical feature of the new school is the use of keyed removeable mullions on pairs of doors, both exterior and interior. These allow easy access when moving large items but also provide greater security and strengthen the opening. Church states, “with a traditional removeable mullion, the bolts can get lost or people may not put them all back in. We went to keyed mullions on most double doors to eliminate these problems.’’ He says the mullions make it possible to have the security of a strong opening without using vertical rod devices, which can require more adjustment. To provide accessibility for those with disabilities, specified exterior doors are equipped with LCN pneumatic power operators, activated by pushbuttons.
According to Church, the school is under consideration for the U.S. Green Building Council’s Silver Rating for the use of sustainable materials, such as linoleum floor covering that uses no petrochemicals. This focused approach, as well as the building’s energy efficiency, is reflected in its security system as well. Each application employs the hardware that provides the right balance of security and safety while remaining cost effective and responsive to the needs of the situation.