By Ornela Perera

Having kicked around the security world for a while now, it has become apparent to me that of all the disciplines involved with build design, security is the one that everyone loves to forget. Now, of course, I could get all defensive and exclaim that security is a really important element of every build project, or that it’s terribly specialised, or that we try hard, or that we are just misunderstood bewildered specialists looking for someone to like us.

However, on reflection, I think there is a reason for us being the pariah. Architects quite rightly despise the ‘security advice’ that turns their beautiful Sterling Prize winning design into an ugly military zone. Design teams correctly see that we are just a bunch of engineers too, and that it really can’t be that difficult designing in a few extra wires in here and there in case the client insists on some cameras and access control! Even our value to BREEAM is debatable; one ‘cheap’ credit. Lastly, as the poor relation of the family, we rarely get invited to the wedding, only the reception, and even then, we are given a start time that sees us arrive after everyone else is already well oiled.  Now, is it any wonder that we don’t get family Christmas cards.

In March this year BRE launched BREEAM UK New Construction 2018 and positioned the security independently under Health and Wellbeing Hea 06 with the benefit of one credit score.  It is fantastic that security is now part of the sustainability standards, but we really need to follow their lead and make the most of this.

Typically, the commission of security work in a new built infrastructure project happens during RIBA Stage 2 or even worse in RIBA Stage 3. It is only when the project is halfway through that the design team, BREEAM consultants and architects include security in the project. This matters because:

  • Design team – While electrical engineers can of course provide baseline specifications for security systems, they sometimes do miss critical previous steps: analysing and assessing why those systems should be implemented in the first place and what their operational requirements should be.
  • BREEAM – Security on its own represents one credit, and most of the time is seen as a ‘cheap’ credit. Therefore, this is an easy straight forward tick box exercise. I would argue, as you would expect, that a great security design is the aim, with the credit being one of the many benefits; not, a credit being the goal, with some security nonsense as a by-product. 
  • Architects – For understandable reasons, security represents a constraint on the freedom of creative design, and we do understand this. We have even been known to be quite creative!  But the critical point is that security has to happen at some point, so why not bring us in early so the constraint is understood and managed early.  It is honesty just as painful for us to have to ruin a fabulous façade by insisting on HVM late on the day – get us in early and we can offer solutions that allow the façade to remain splendid with the measures in place.

Security, and particularly security threats, never stand still, and while we might not know much else, we do know security.  We might be the poor relation of the family, but we are still part of the family, and we are so very keen to help out and add real value, internally and externally. My plea is: get us in early, do the job once, and give our clients a superb security solution. Maybe, just maybe, when you see the delighted clients and improved profits, we will get invited to the wedding for the service too!

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Ornela Perera, Security, Uncategorized

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