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ASTM Standards for Correctional Facilities

There have been numerous standards sponsored by ASTM Committee F-33 on Detention and Correctional Facilities.

Familiarity and being able to adhere to these standards is a must. They

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not only cover testing procedures and degree of detention, but also assemblies and fastening methods that must be incorporated into the design and construction. These tests are also required in order for a certain detention system to provide the proper physical barriers, which are crucial for this building type.

The following is a list of the present active standards consistently used and identified in the project specifications:

  • ASTM A627-03 (2011), Standard Test Methods for Tool-resisting Steel Bars, Flats, and Shapes for Detention and Correctional Facilities;
  • ASTM F1450-12a, Standard Test Methods for Hollow Metal Swinging Door Assemblies for Detention and Correctional Facilities;
  • ASTM F1592-12, Standard Test Methods for Detention Hollow Metal Vision Systems;
  • ASTM F1915-05 (2012), Standard Test Methods for Glazing for Detention Facilities; and
  • ASTM F2322-12, Standard Test Methods for Physical Assault on Vertical Fixed Barriers for Detention and Correctional Facilities.

Additional standard testing methods are being proposed that will add essential overall detention requirements to these facilities. The following are under consideration:

  • ASTM WK9092, Standard Test Methods for Physical Assault on Overhead Horizontal Fixed Barriers for Detention and Correctional Facilities;
  • ASTM WK14507, Guide for Selection of Security Fasteners for Detention and Correctional Facilities; and
  • ASTM WK25858, New Test Method for Anchor Systems Used for Detention Hollow Metal Vision Systems and Door Assemblies.

Knowledge of these standards is essential for the proper design and construction of these facilities.

To read the full article, click here.

Specifying Successful Systems for Detention Facilities

Photo © Bo Parker

Photo © Bo Parker

by Ruben Caro, CSI

The construction of detention and correctional facilities, as well as holding cells in courthouses, is not the same as for other building types. Some of the more complex of these facilities, due to the magnitude of program space requirements, can be more than 55,740 m2 (600,000 sf) (Figure 1). In addition to standard construction materials and practice, these buildings are designed with a multitude of special materials and systems, known collectively as ‘detention equipment.’

The materials and systems—doors, frames, and windows—are specifically fabricated and produced to ensure public safety is not compromised. Additional security measures are provided by the inclusion of electronic security equipment systems. The coordination of the detention equipment installation with other building systems and components can be complex and arduous.

Integration of materials and building systems must be carefully constructed and coordinated to ensure not only the confinement of inmates to designated secure areas, but also to make certain officers, administrative staff, and visitors are safe. Knowledge of how these systems are installed, operate, and function is a must for both the design team and the contractors and subcontractors responsible for the actual construction. There are numerous detention equipment components and systems requiring contractors to be proactive during the submittal and construction phases to ensure the proper operational objectives and procedures determined by the design team and clients are met.

These buildings are constructed to varying degrees of detention and complexity requirements. They could range from a minimum security facility to a super-max—each having different operational objectives and security requirements. They are carefully reviewed and predetermined by the design team and the clients during the project’s design phase.

Types of detention perimeters, building construction, detention equipment, and electronic and communication systems must be extensively discussed and carefully specified. A specialist in this type of construction, is an invaluable member of the project team. Detention equipment contractors (DECs) can be made responsible for the control and accountability of providing and installing the detention equipment as delineated in the construction documents.

This large correctional facility is nearly 55,740 m2 (600,000 sf). Photo © Mark’s Photo Professional Photography and Services. Photo courtesy GRW Engineers

This large correctional facility is nearly 55,740 m2 (600,000 sf). Photo © Mark’s Photo Professional
Photography and Services. Photo courtesy GRW Engineers

Rebar placed through hollow metal frame anchor for additional strength. Photos courtesy Ricci Greene Associates

Rebar placed through hollow metal frame anchor for additional strength. Photos courtesy Ricci Greene Associates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Specifying the detention equipment
A contractor who has knowledge of how detention and correctional facilities are constructed and operate should be a prerequisite for any firm seeking to bid on these building types. A qualified DEC has the expertise to handle the high degree of coordination necessary for undertaking such facilities.

Due diligence in the preparation of specifications is a must for detention equipment contractors working on these projects. Qualifications must be carefully researched and stated in the project specifications. A DEC firm should have at least five years of proven experience in projects of the same size and magnitude as the project currently being constructed. Simply speaking, if a 1000-bed facility is being built, a firm with only a couple years of experience in building only police precincts with five to 10 cells should not qualify. Additionally, firms should have no less than five completed projects in operation for more than five years. A list of prequalified DECs should be added to the specifications. Any that are not prequalified but still wishing to bid on the project must submit evidence they meet the qualifications of specifications before bidding.

Undeniably, due to the building type complexity, the DEC plays an important role in the facility’s construction. Certain minimum construction tolerance and sequencing must be adhered to for the proper installation, completion, and successful operation of the detention systems and building. They must be in constant communication with the general contractor and other subcontractors, exchanging information concerning the scope of work for the construction package. Being proactive during the construction phase is a must.

Security grille within ductwork in a concrete masonry wall (CMU) wall.

Security grille within ductwork in a concrete masonry wall (CMU) wall.

A heavy gauge cover will have to be installed in order to enclose the conduit and junction box not installed within the CMU.

A heavy gauge cover will have to be installed in order to enclose the conduit and junction box not installed within the CMU.

Coordination, sequencing, and scheduling
Coordination, sequencing, and scheduling are an essential part of the construction phase. An integral part of the interior and exterior security walls, certain components must be installed in accordance to ASTM standards to ensure they meet the rigorous testing required for the proper performance of the product. (See “ASTM Standards for Correctional Facilities.”)

Some of the components require appurtenances be delivered to the field before installation. For instance, steel plates must be in place before the installation of spilt frames and/or security bar grilles for proper welding. To maintain the project’s critical path, these steel plates must be delivered to the field for installation and proper anchorage during the security wall’s construction, whether masonry or poured-in-place concrete. Other important coordination issues that must be in place before the security walls are items such as detention door and window frames, if they are not split-frame types. The proper installation and anchorage of these frames is paramount to the effectiveness of the security wall openings to ensure ASTM compliance (Figure 2).

One of the most critical coordination items is integration between the electrical systems, security electronic systems, detention hollow metal doors, door frames, and vision panels, as well as detention hardware. To ensure inmates do not have access to any of the electrical conduits, they must be placed within the concrete masonry unit (CMU) walls. Additionally, careful coordination between the DEC and the security electronic contractor must be maintained to ensure the proper installation of the wires to allow for the detention hardware connection such as locks and door monitoring devices. These items all require special attention.

Informational submittals should include coordination drawings that indicate all interrelated and interfacing of detention components, security electronics, and surrounding construction. Additionally, the scope of work items should be reviewed by the DEC before submitting to the design team for their review.

Yet another organizational task performed by the DEC is project administration. Information concerning the project development of the detention equipment delivery and installation must be maintained and related to the contractor and subcontractors. This is accomplished by means of schedules, meetings, and reports outlining all detention equipment construction activities.

An installed security hollow metal frame, with security mesh and stainless steel counter in non-contact visitation. [CREDIT] Photo courtesy Maximum Security Products

An installed security hollow metal frame, with security mesh and stainless steel counter in non-contact visitation. Photo courtesy Maximum Security Products

This dayroom has numerous detention equipment components and systems that must be installed and coordinated by the Detention Equipment Contractor (DEC). Photo courtesy Peter Krasnow

This dayroom has numerous detention equipment components and systems that must be installed and coordinated by the Detention Equipment Contractor (DEC). Photo courtesy Peter Krasnow

Installation of detention components and systems
There are many different building systems installed in a correctional facility necessitating the need for penetration prevention and vandalism by the inmates, which fall under the scope of work for the DEC.1 Some of the products are:

  • security access doors and frames;
  • detention doors and frames;
  • detention windows;
  • detention hardware;
  • detention and/or security glass;
  • security grilles;
  • security ceiling assemblies; and
  • detention furnishings.

Architectural components must be anchored in such a manner they meet the ASTM standard ‘tested assembly’ for the detention grades and impact requirements identified in the construction documents. Detention furnishings (e.g. cell bunks, decks, and shelves found in the cells), and dayroom furnishings must be installed in such a manner to prevent inmates from removing and destroying these items or using them for self-harm.2 Materials part of the detention barriers, such as the hollow metal, security grilles, and security ceilings must be properly anchored to the security walls and structure, to ensure the security perimeter is not compromised.

In addition to the installation of various architectural components, the necessity to coordinate with the security electronics subcontractor is an absolute necessity. The installation of each one of these components must be properly installed to ensure the central control station operates correctly. Some of the items requiring coordination are:

  • access control;
  • intrusion detection; and
  • detention monitoring and control systems.

To be certain all the detention equipment requirements operate as designed, a field quality control (QC) report should be prepared and included as part of the submittals process.

Material knowledge
Most of the architectural components employed for a correctional facility are constructed using materials that will form an effective detention barrier. Walls are constructed with reinforced masonry, for example. Doors and windows are fabricated using heavy-gauge metal and internally reinforced to ensure confinement and prevent escape.

Ceilings within inmate-occupied areas must be constructed of durable materials. Door hardware should be a special type with heavy internal components, some of which are electrically operated. All components must pass rigorous testing in order to maintain a secure environment.

This photo shows a conduit waiting to be enclosed within the CMU walls. Photo courtesy Ricci Greene Associates

This photo shows a conduit waiting to be enclosed within the CMU walls. Photo courtesy Ricci Greene Associates

This photo shows the inside of a control station. Photo courtesy HTK Architects and KMD Consulting Architects

This photo shows the inside of a control station. Photo courtesy HTK Architects and KMD Consulting Architects

Turnkey operation
The ultimate goal of having a detention equipment contractor is to produce a project with ‘turnkey operation.’ A DEC will assume a single-source responsibility for all the detention equipment’s scope of work concerning the coordination, installation, and operation. Therefore, if there are any problems during construction, items on the ‘punch list,’ or possible call backs for the detention equipment scope of work, it will be the DEC’s ultimate responsibility to determine what course of action must be taken to rectify any problems. This, within itself, could eliminate the possibility of countless hours during the construction process of determining the party responsible for any potential omissions or problems.

As part of the overall turnkey operation, the DEC could be required to provide demonstrations in their scope of work. This will allow the owner’s personnel to attend training sessions on how to adjust, operate, and maintain the equipment installed by the DEC. The number of personnel that will attend the demonstration should be discussed with the owner, and then included in the specification and location.

Specification requirements
The specification for the project’s detention equipment portion needs to be carefully prepared. The section identifying the requirements of the DEC must include the scope of work, minimum qualifications, and all responsibilities. The scope of work should summarize all the materials and products incorporated into the project. Each material should have an individual section indicating all the requirements and ASTM designations for the product and degree of security when applicable.

Conclusion
As detention and correctional facilities become more complex and state-of-the-art, the need for a qualified team of professionals, with the knowledge on how to design and construct one of these facilities, is a must. Delivering a building with such high expectations is by no means an easy task. The construction team is faced with constructing a building with numerous systems that must be totally integrated and perform without problems.

The DEC becomes responsible for making certain the key components essential to the successful operation of the facility are correctly installed in accordance with the construction documents and industry standards. Not using an experienced DEC may jeopardize the intended function and operation of the facility. The necessity to have an experienced DEC with knowledge and expertise cannot be understated.

Notes
1 For a deeper look at glazing, see this author’s article in the August 2009 issue of The Construction Specifier, “Transparent Security: Selecting Glazing for Detention and Correctional Facilities.” (back to top)
2 For more, see The Construction Specifier articles, “Specifying Windows for Behavioral Healthcare Projects,” by Lisa May (February 2013) and “Preventing Jail Suicide with Better Design” by Randall Atlas, PhD, AIA, CPP (March 2009). (back to top)

Ruben Caro, CSI, has an associate’s degree in construction technology and studied architecture at New York Institute of Technology. He has been involved with the preparation of the construction documents and construction administration for more than 30 correctional and detention facilities and holding cell areas for courthouses across the United Sates. As RC Consulting for Architects, he provides technical services to the architectural and engineering communities. He has been part of technical committees assisting in the preparation of standard details and specifications for correctional facilities and providing quality control/assurance (QA/QC) reviews for a variety of building types. Caro can be reached at rcaro@nyc.rr.com.

This photo shows the inside of a control station. Photo courtesy HTK Architects and KMD Consulting Architects

Specifying Doors for a Healthier Environment

All photos courtesy Assa Abloy

All photos courtesy Assa Abloy

by Marilyn A. Collins, EDAC

In an effort to create a more restorative environment for behavioral health facilities, both design and healthcare professionals are looking to door openings. The shape of hardware, locking devices, and integrated trims can include aesthetic design elements while remaining safe and secure.

There are almost 6000 hospitals in the United States. Of those, approximately 30 percent house an in-patient psychiatric or behavioral health unit—with almost eight percent dedicated to behavioral health. Additionally, there are many specialized clinics and out-patient treatment offices. A project’s specific needs may vary widely, from children’s units to adult therapeutic environments, but many requirements are common to all types of facilities, including code compliance.

Behavioral health is concerned with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of those exhibiting aggressive or self-destructive behaviors. One of the main goals of behavioral health is to keep patients safe during recovery or rehabilitation. Security and safety are critical challenges as facilities accommodate other occupants—whether family, clinical and professional staff, or environmental services personnel who have access to virtually every area of the facility, and use potentially harmful cleaning agents and/or chemicals.

Built environment and healthcare
The built environment can make a difference in behavioral health facilities. Doorways, doors, hardware, and accessories can be integrated in such a way as to reduce noise levels, increase security, facilitate sight lines, and improve patient safety. Options for sustainable features such as recycled content, health declarations, and certifications ensuring the elimination of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in doors are becoming standard in the specifications for most healthcare spaces.

Writing a Division 08 specification for a behavioral health unit demands expert product knowledge to capitalize on the opportunities they present to create a restorative environment as well as to avoid the threat they can pose to patients’ wellbeing. Questions to consider during specifications include:

  • Should the door be specified as a single leaf to avoid flush bolts that could represent a ligature point?
  • Would the use of a continuous hinge be preferred to swing clear hinges?

In addition to protecting against security risks from the outside, behavioral health openings are also designed to lessen the potential of patients using some portion of the opening to inflict self-harm. This is readily apparent in the shape and form of these products—many hardware items, and some specialized doors, look different from those used in standard openings. Such products address potential threats to patients, and are designed to mitigate these risks.

Thermal fused doors withstand abusive conditions and the harsh cleaning compounds used in sanitary environment.

Thermal fused doors withstand abusive conditions and the harsh cleaning compounds used in sanitary environment.

In North America, there are no design standards for door and hardware products used in a behavioral health environment. Product manufacturers often research overseas standards, consult with behavioral health facility staff, or conduct observational research to determine door and hardware designs. However, once a product is created it can be sent for review to agencies such as the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) or the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems (NAPHS). These agencies carefully scrutinize the product, and then issue guidance recommending whether a product is suited for use in high-, medium-, or low-risk areas.

Healthcare organizations and specifiers can consult these reviews to determine if the products they have in place or plan to use have earned a seal of approval to match the risk level of each opening. Without such reviews, specifiers may select products not optimal for the facility’s function. In some cases, facility staff must make aftermarket product choices to provide a safe opening addressing a specific level of risk.

Alternatives
Patients placed in a high-risk area are at an elevated danger of inducing self-harm; they might look at an opening for potential ligature points. The products used on the opening should therefore minimize these points. A standard door lever should not be specified for these locations.

Alternative hardware trim has been designed to perform the same function of a lever without the catch points, sharp edge, and large protruding profile. Openings that overcome attempts at barricading may also be required in this environment.

Various alternatives to openings in healthcare facilities are available for high-, medium-, and low-risk openings.

High-risk
There are door and hardware alternatives for high-risk openings accepted by New York’s OMH, which is the standard followed by most of the United States.

Heavy-duty door stops reduce damage from doors hitting walls.

Heavy-duty door stops reduce damage from doors hitting walls.

An emergency door stop thwarts barricade efforts by allowing the door to swing open in the opposite direction.

An emergency door stop thwarts barricade efforts by allowing the door to swing open in the opposite direction.

Detention knobs are used with mortise locks and feature a sloped surface throughout it.

Detention knobs are used with mortise locks and feature a sloped surface throughout it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Integrated trim
This type of device integrates the door lever with the escutcheon to create a safe, low-profile mechanism for opening the door that is also Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant. The tapered surface is free of catch points, and works with mortise locks so it can withstand abusive conditions.

Recessed flush pull
A flush pull recessed into the door with concealed fasteners will prevent patient tampering. Also, the smooth flush design is free of catch- and pinch-points.

Hinges with hospital tips
A hinge’s knuckle or cap can be tapered with smooth-angled surfaces, called ‘hospital tips.’ This tapering eliminates catch-points found on traditional hinges.

Emergency door stops
An emergency latch release allows doors to swing open in the opposite direction, thwarting barricade efforts. The latch releases with a touch of the finger. A second touch of the lever returns the latch to its original position. This device allows center-hung or 3.2-mm (1/8-in.) inset doors to be opened in both directions without damaging the frame; it can be used to convert double-acting doors hung on center pivots to single-acting doors.

Heavy-duty door stops and wall stops
Molded rubber bumpers mounted into the floor or wall without exposed fasteners reduces costly wall and door damage caused by doors slammed open. Wall stops with concealed mounting resists patient tampering.

The paddle shape of push/pull trim creates a target for door activation.

The paddle shape of push/pull trim creates a target for door activation.

Recessed flush pulls are flush-mounted and designed without pinch points.

Recessed flush pulls are flush-mounted and designed without pinch points.

Wrought wall stops are free of catch points and reduce damage from a door slamming into a wall.

Wrought wall stops are free of catch points and reduce damage from a door slamming into a wall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patient room access door
Essentially a door within a door, the main unit of a patient room access door has the functionality of a standard in-swing patient room door. The inner door can open to the corridor giving authorized personnel quick access to the patient’s room. The ligature-resistant design is a key feature of the construction.

Roller latch with strike
For use only on non-fire-rated interior openings such as toilet rooms, bathrooms, shower rooms, and closets, roller latches with strikes are safe for en-suite bathroom doors and delivers patient privacy without locking the door.

Medium- and low-risk
A wider range of doors and hardware are available to meet the opening needs of medium- and low-risk environments. Similar to those used in high-risk areas, these devices often feature sleek curves that reduce catch points, but have protrusions or

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larger profiles making them less-than-ideal for at-risk patients. These types of products may be used with caution on medium- and low-risk openings.

Double-swing hinges enable doors to open wide in either direction.

Double-swing hinges enable doors to open wide in either direction.

Detention knobs
Detention knobs comprise overlapping knob and rose working with a mortise lock. The sloped surfaces throughout the knob minimize risks and can be used on many opening types.

Lever and push/pull trim
Lever trim devices function identically to normal levers, but they are designed with sloped surfaces and an overlapping rose. Similar in nature to a standard lever (including ADA-compliant), uses a standard mortise lock prep. This trim also retrofits easily on existing openings. Recent generations of push/pull trim products feature curves and slopes, compared with the earlier boxy and sharp-edged versions. Doors with this trim can be opened with a push or pull of a paddle that replaces a standard lever.

The paddle shape and location creates an easy target for door activation without the use of hands. This feature, along with multiple mounting orientations, makes push/pull devices popular on many openings, including patient room doors.

Double swing hinges
The need for wide opening doors make double-swing hinges ideal for many healthcare openings. A 100-degree swing design allows the door to swing wide in either direction to allow access for equipment and gurneys. An emergency release stop provides quick access in an urgent situation. These continuous geared hinges provide proper alignment and weight distribution that extend the door’s life. They are available with sloped hospital tips.

Thermal-fused doors
Behavioral health environments experience a lot of abuse from patients, facility personnel, and equipment. Rugged thermal fused doors are a natural fit in this environment. Edge banding on the tops and bottoms of the door seals out moisture, preventing damage from the rigorous cleaning in healthcare settings. This also adds protection against chipping.

Integrated trim is accepted by the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) for use in high-risk areas.

Integrated trim is accepted by the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) for use in high-risk areas.

Specifying integrated trim, push-pull trims, and other door hardware for high-, medium-, or low-risk areas directly aligns with patient safety and can eliminate or reduce potential ligature points. Products recommended by organizations such as the New York State OMH or NAPHS are good choices for this demanding environment. Various products designed for behavioral health applications, such as patient rooms, are also well suited for other areas in the healthcare environment such as for pharmacy, dock doors, kitchen entrances, and linen storage.

More options

Other options to consider for openings in a behavioral health setting include sustainability attributes and security of pharmaceutical storage areas. A facility looking to attain a green building certification can turn to Division 08 openings for assistance in categories such as building envelope thermal performance, material composition, and indoor environmental quality.

Specifying doors that are certified by the GreenGuard Environmental Institute ensures volatile organic compounds (VOC) are not present. For projects following the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) rating program, selecting doors with high recycled content, agrifiber cores, and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified products, can also contribute to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) credits.

Securing isolated doorways, such as those on pharmaceutical storage cabinets, carts, and closets can be accomplished with wireless electronic access control devices providing real-time notifications whenever a cabinet or closet door is opened.

Non-fire-rated interior openings can be equipped with roller latches to provide patient privacy without locking the door.

Non-fire-rated interior openings can be equipped with roller latches to provide patient privacy without locking the door.

Healing environments have made quite a transition, from custodial, long-term facilities to spaces that seek to restore clients and patients to community in the short to medium term. Therefore, specifying doors contributing to noise reduction, such as wood doors, is one way to shape the building with healing in mind. Reducing noise by incorporating wood creates a more home-like feel to a facility and allows treatment to be provided in surroundings mirroring the community patients return to. Door openings can be specified with sound transmission class (STC) ratings tested to the required ASTM standards, including:

  • ASTM E90, Standard Test Method for Laboratory Measurement of Airborne Sound Transmission Loss of Building Partitions and Elements;
  • ASTM E1332-90, Standard Classification for Determination of Outdoor-Indoor Transmission Class; and
  • ASTM E413, Classification for Rating Sound Insulation.

Conclusion

Since today’s healthcare facilities—including behavioral health units—have a décor suggesting hospitality rather than hospital, specifiers will want to choose doors and hardware adding to the building aesthetic without detracting from safety and security. Seasoned specifiers recognize there is beauty in the balance of form and function. A coordinated design, complementary finishes, and the right products in the right places can ensure compliance with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requirements and other building codes, and contribute to a healthier, more sustainable space—from the exterior to the interior of a facility.

Whether it is an outpatient or inpatient facility, a dementia unit, or a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical center, the myriad choices for electronic locking, high-security cylinders, auto operators, integrated trims, wood and hollow metal or specialty door afford specifiers, architects, facility managers, and clinicians the range of options for an optimum healing place.

Marilyn A. Collins, EDAC, is director of business development for healthcare at Assa Abloy Door Security Solutions and has served healthcare and other end user markets for more than 20 years. She emphasizes evidence-based design in life safety, security, and access control solutions for the complete range of door openings. Collins is trained in evidence based design and is active in industry groups including Healthcare Executives, Buildings Vip, The Center for Health Design, FierceHealthcare, Society for the Advancement of Gerontological Environments (SAGE), and the Door and Hardware Institute (DHI). She can be contacted at marilyn.collins@assaabloy.com.

Security Glazing for Safer Schools: Trends in School Safety

Between 1999 and 2009, various school security measures have been implemented:

  • controlled access to the building during school hours (moving from 75 to 92 percent in that decade);
  • controlled access to school grounds during school hours (34 to 46 percent);
  • identification badges for faculty (25 to 63 percent);
  • video cameras to monitor school (19 to 61 percent);
  • telephones in classrooms (45 to 74 percent);
  • student uniforms (12 to 20 percent);
  • restricted social networking websites (now 93 percent); and
  • restricted cell phone use during school hours (now 91 percent).

To read the full article, click here.

 

Security Glazing for Safer Schools

Photo courtesy Graham Architectural Products

Photo courtesy Graham Architectural Products

by Julie Schimmelpenningh

With recent tragedies involving school shootings, parents and administrators across the country are demanding ways to make K−12 facilities more secure. Areas of the schools under significant scrutiny are doors and windows—and more specifically, the glass being specified.

For extra school security, laminated security glass can be an easy and cost-effective measure to assist in resisting forced entry and the threat of bullets. Compared with traditional annealed or tempered glass, this type of material can secure the building more effectively.

Laminated glass is made from a tough plastic interlayer bonded between two pieces of glass. The interlayer is invisible to the naked eye, so laminated glass offers the same clear visual benefits as ordinary glass—an important feature for security. From inside, glass allows occupants to see someone approaching the school. From the outside, it can help responders locate intruders or victims.

Success in other fields
Laminated glass has successfully protected public facilities and major works of art for many years. Security glass has been in use in various forms for generations. Invented in 1903 by French chemist Edouard Benedictus, laminated glass has been employed for decades in car windshields to greatly reduce injuries. It is commonly used in high-risk facilities such as embassies and federal buildings, as well as museums. Laminated glass protects great treasures such as the Mona Lisa, the U.S. Constitution, and the Crown Jewels in London.

After the devastation caused by Hurricane Andrew in 1992, laminated glass became the standard in Florida and other coastal regions. Building code requirements were established to lessen the amount of destruction caused from high winds and to ensure occupant safety.

Enhancements to laminated glass configurations ensure glazing in federal and other public buildings are blast-resistant. Dozens of lives were saved by blast-resistant laminated glass when the Pentagon, newly remodeled, was attacked on September 11, 2001. The shockwaves following an explosion can send glass shards flying for miles and generally cause about 70 percent of the injuries following a blast, as was the case in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and many other blast events. It is these qualities that make the material a good candidate for school specifications.

When remodeling an educational facility or building a new school, security should be a major player in the design process. Windows and doors are the easiest point of entry into a school, but they don’t have to be.  Installing laminated security glass for all windows and doors makes forced entry much more difficult. Images courtesy Eastman Chemical Company

When remodeling an educational facility or building a new school, security should be a major player in the design process. Windows and doors are the easiest point of entry into a school, but they don’t have to be. Installing laminated security glass for all windows and doors makes forced entry much more difficult. Images courtesy Eastman Chemical Company

Renewed need for extra security
A school is more than just a facility; it is a place where families send their kids for the majority of their day to learn, participate in sports and clubs, and perform in musicals and plays. Schools can be why families buy a home in a specific neighborhood, and they can be what ties a community together—the buildings are frequently used as emergency management centers or shelters in times of crisis, making security an important attribute, even after teaching hours.

In recent years, however, schools are not being thought of as the safe havens they once were. Since 1992, there have been 387 shootings in U.S. schools, according to www.stoptheshootings.org. One of the most recent involving fatalities occurred last December at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 children and six adults were killed. As no one can predict whether an attack will happen, it is important schools be prepared for anything.

Immediately following the Sandy Hook shooting, discussions across the country started about how this tragedy and future shootings could be prevented. There were conversations about gun control, awareness and care for the mentally ill, as well as improving safety at schools through better communication systems, security measures, and intruder drill training. School districts everywhere are looking at how they can keep their students, teachers, and faculty safe. Design/construction professionals can play an important role as well.

What the school construction industry can do
By installing laminated security glass for all windows and doors, forced entry becomes much more difficult. Laminated glass is fabricated with a tough, protective interlayer, typically of polyvinyl butyral (PVB), which is bonded with heat and pressure between two pieces of glass. The use of thicker interlayers can increase the resistance of the glass to impacts. Upon impact, laminated glass will shatter, but glass shards remain held together by the bonded interlayer. Risks associated with flying or falling glass are minimized.

Laminated security glass stands up to multiple assaults from a blunt or sharp object used to gain entry. If an intruder tries to break through a window or the glass lite of a door, it would take several blows before he or she achieves access through the security glass. This allows valuable time for anyone inside the school to react, enabling more opportunity to call the police, send internal communications about the intruder, lock-down interior doors or classrooms, evacuate, or move students to a safer area.

From a glazing standpoint, school architects and administrators may consider the following when designing new or retrofit glazing systems:

  • glass should provide inherent health, safety, and security benefits that can help mitigate disasters;
  • natural daylight is essential for psychological benefits of students and teachers;1
  • glass should provide visibility for critical passageways and entry areas; and
  • sustained functionality—basic functions of the school can operate following a natural disaster or incident.

Considering threat levels
Entry doors have been the most vulnerable in many school shootings. Hurricane-rated high-impact (i.e. large-missile) glass, or even ballistic glass should be considered. As in the case of Sandy Hook, the shooter penetrated the side lite of the door and then reached through to open it. The ‘break-and-reach’ ability of the intruder must be delayed or stopped. High-performance glass provides resistance, while still providing much needed visibility.

Existing doors may need to be replaced completely if bullet-resistant glazing is specified, as the framing system for such heavy configurations is specialized.

Access doors with a double-entry lobby to the school should be equipped with laminated security glazing having forced entry/burglary resistance capability in accordance with Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 972, Testing for Burglary-resistant Glazing Materials, or Class I of ASTM F1233, Standard Test Method for Security Glazing Materials and Systems.

Today’s schools have an increasing amount of glass windows and doors because of the positive benefits it brings. For extra security, laminated glass is an easy, cost-effective measure in protecting against forced entry and bullet resistance. Compared with traditional annealed or tempered glass, laminated glass can secure the building more effectively.

Today’s schools have an increasing amount of glass windows and doors because of the positive benefits it brings. For extra security, laminated glass is an easy, cost-effective measure in protecting against forced entry and bullet resistance. Compared with traditional annealed or tempered glass, laminated glass can secure the building more effectively.

First-floor glass should be, at a minimum, equipped with basic laminated glass, which typically requires a 0.76-mm (0.03 in.) thick interlayer. This type of glass will deter ingress, retain glass, and slow break-and-reach attempts. Forced ingress glazing will offer greater protection, and uses a thicker interlayer. Laminated glass can be retrofitted into most existing window and door systems and can contribute to compliance for security windows per ASTM E2395, Security Performance of Window and Door Assemblies With and Without Glazing Impact.

If budgets do not permit replacement of windows, security film can be post-applied over the existing windows and doors. This option offers some of the benefits of laminated glass, but provides less resistance against an intruder. Further, like other laminated glass options that are not ballistics-resistant, it will not stop a bullet. Security film also modifies the post breakage behavior of glass, but may allow time to take additional action versus non-enhanced glazing.

During new construction, laminated glass may make economic sense due to its higher performance levels. However, post-applied films can be a good alternative in a retrofit situation where glass replacement is not possible.

It requires several shots from handguns like a 9 mm, .357, or .45 caliber to make a hole large enough to put a fist through to unlock a door or window. In some cases, the intruder may be temporarily confused, as the glass does not ‘behave’ as expected. There are many documented smash-and-grab attempts at a burglary where would-be intruders give up because they are generating too much noise and attention.

Additional benefits
Along with its safety and security enhancing features, laminated glass offers other benefits for schools. Laminated glass dampens sound coming in from the outside, making it an ideal choice for schools located in noisy neighborhoods or urban environments. The interlayer in laminated glass significantly dampens sound, keeping unwanted outside noise at bay.

Numerous studies have shown children concentrate and can learn better in a quiet space. For example, one research project found links between higher achievement and less external noise. Excessive outside sound resulted in increased student dissatisfaction with their classrooms and stress.2

Laminated glass also reduces the amount of solar heat gain and ultraviolet (UV) rays going into a building, making it more comfortable and healthy for students and teachers. Work has been done delving into the importance teachers place on thermal comfort, proving temperature affects both teaching quality and student achievement.3 Interestingly, studies in the 1970s found the best temperature range for learning math and reading is between 20 and 23 C (68 and 74 F).4 Maintaining a specific classroom climate is an essential part of setting students up for success.

CS_February_2014.inddHurricane-rated laminated glass protects against natural disasters. Following Hurricane Andrew in 1992, Florida began to strengthen its building codes to help protect the building envelope. Windborne debris was a major problem during this Category 5 hurricane, and the construction industry began to look for ways to protect the windows in commercial buildings and schools.

Laminated glass proved to be one of the most effective solutions for this problem, and today, is commonplace in buildings in coastal areas of the United States, the Caribbean, and other world areas. Hurricane-resistant glass comprises multiple interlayers; it can be considered for vulnerable areas of a school, such as entry and rear doors, sidelites, and floor-to-ceiling windows.

Laminated glass is versatile, readily available, affordable, and easy to install. Also, it can be used to help a project earn credits within the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. Specifically, designers can secure points toward LEED certification under

  • Energy & Atmosphere (EA) Credit 1, Optimize Energy Performance;
  • Materials & Resources (MR) Credit 4, Recycled Content;
  • Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ) Credit 8, Daylight & Views; and
  • EQ Credit 9, Enhanced Acoustical Performance.

Since laminated glass offers solar, safety, and acoustic benefits, it can help achieve points ordinary glass may not.

Upgrading schools through glazing
In 1998, data collected in surveys conducted by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) suggested the average public school building in the United States was 42 years old.5 This suggests many of the country’s schools may now be at an age where frequent repairs are necessary.

Due to the burst in school construction during the Baby Boom Era, the NECS study reports almost half (i.e. 45 percent) of schools were built between 1950 and 1969. Seventeen percent of public schools were built between 1970 and 1984, and only 10 percent after 1985. These older schools were not envisioned with modern-day security and safety measures in mind; further, they do not offer the physical security level now desirable.

Educator A.C. Ornstein found by the time school is 20 to 30 years old, frequent replacement of equipment is needed.6 Original equipment, including roof and electrical systems, should be replaced between 30 and 40 years old, as rapid deterioration begins after this point. In fact, most schools are abandoned by the time they reach 60 years.

When the NECS study was published, most of those facilities were already about 50 years old and experiencing serious decline. In other words, half of the country’s public schools could be seen as major threats to student safety.

Immediately following the Sandy Hook shooting, discussions across the country started about how this tragedy and future shootings could be prevented. School districts everywhere are looking at how they can keep their students, teachers, and faculty safe. Design and construction professionals can play an important role as well.

Immediately following the Sandy Hook shooting, discussions across the country started about how this tragedy and future shootings could be prevented. School districts everywhere are looking at how they can keep their students, teachers, and faculty safe. Design and construction professionals can play an important role as well.

Today, as the rate of school construction continues to decline, safety is a more serious concern than ever. The existing stock of schools is too old to offer any kind of reliable security systems. Outdated glass, in particular, lacks basic insulation features to control classroom temperature and cannot offer much more than protection from outdoor elements. However, the installation of laminated glass immediately updates an aging school and offers protection to students and teachers.

While there is pressing need for building better schools, many face funding and time constraints. When new buildings cannot be erected, the architectural community must look at available options to modernize, update, and safeguard existing schools. Laminated glass or window film remains one of the easiest and most cost-effective measures available for enhancing student and faculty safety.

Notes
1 For example, a 2002 study by L. Heschong et al (“Daylighting Impacts on Human Performance in School,” Journal of the Illuminating Engineering Society, 31[2])identified effects of natural light on students as evidenced in significantly improved standardized test scores for elementary students. The same study concluded that daylight contributed positively to overall health and well-being of students. (back to top)
2 The G.I. Earthman and L. Lemasters’ paper, “Where Children Learn: A Discussion of How a Facility Affects Learning,” was presented at the 1998 annual meeting of Virginia Educational Facility Planners. (back to top)
3 The 1999 J.A. Lackney report, “Assessing School Facilities for Learning/Assessing the Impact of the Physical Environment on the Educational Process,” was published by Mississippi State’s Educational Design Institute. (back to top)
4 The David P. Harner article, “Effects of Thermal Environment on Learning Skills,” appeared in Educational Facility Planner, 12 (2). (back to top)
5 The NCES report, “How Old Are America’s Public Schools?” was published in January 1999 by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Research and Improvement. It can be read online at nces.ed.gov/pubs99/1999048.pdf. (back to top)
6 Ornstein’s article, “School Finance and the Condition of Schools,” appeared in the book, Teaching: Theory into Practice (Allyn and Bacon). (back to top)

Julia Schimmelpenningh is global applications manager, advanced interlayers for Eastman Chemical Company. She is has been a glass industry activist for 25 years with experience in research and development, technical lamination processing, product, applications, and standard development. Schimmelpenningh is a participating member of ASTM, International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and Glass Association of North America (GANA). She can be reached at jcschi@eastman.com.

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