Opening the door to parking: High-speed means security

The tight profile of the high-speed doors takes up minimal wall space.

Adequate lighting of all areas of the parking structure and prominently displayed security cameras are major deterrents for criminals. Access control is important, particularly for facilities that do not have manned booths. Many tenant parking locations use proximity cards, identification (ID) badges, and window tags with embedded radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips to control who can enter the building. Allowing the right people in and keeping the wrong people out can be as easy as choosing the appropriate kind of doors.

Even with controlled access, piggybacking can still be a problem, explains the University of Southern California’s (USC) chief of campus security, Carey Drayton.

“Piggybacking happens when intruders time the interval between the vehicle passing through the doorway and the door closing, allowing them to slip into the building behind the authorized vehicle,” he says.

A slowly operating door adds to the temptation. The longer the door takes to close, the bigger the window of opportunity. Slow doors can be open for many seconds after the authorized vehicle has passed.

High-speed roll-up doors are now taking their place in parking garages to reduce piggybacking and increase security. These doors are commonly deployed in manufacturing and commercial environments because they increase the productivity of forklift traffic while saving energy. This same technology preventing the escape of heating or air-conditioning energy also wards off intruders and prevents unauthorized access.

Depending on the speed of the vehicle, the door can be open for just seconds. Once the car has cleared the doorway, the building is completely secured. Many high-speed solid panel doors have latching mechanisms at the bottom for an extra measure of security.

Tenants and employees are provided with an access card or a security code for the entry keypad. For its parking facility, USC provides tenants with an RFID chip in an adhesive strip attached to the car’s rearview mirror. Parking tenants are also given a key card to get back into the building through card-reader-accessible pedestrian doors.

According to Drayton, “The speed of these doors makes people think twice about piggybacking and discourages them from using our parking structures as possible crime sites.”

Some models have solid and inpenetrable aluminum slats, yet are still capable of high speeds of 1.5 m (60 in.) per second. GID Development has multi-family apartment projects throughout the country, including the recently opened Sovereign at Regent Square in Houston—offering mixed-use residential, office, retail, and entertainment district with parking for all uses.

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The high-speed parking building doors fit in with the architectural style of the Galen Center arena at the University of Southern California (USC).

According to Robert Tullis, vice president/director of design for GID Development, the firm’s projects often use fabric curtain doors to separate residential parking spaces from those for other uses. Though these doors do not offer the protection that metal doors do in unoccupied places, Tullis attributes the availability of adequate security to a combination of the door’s high speed and the abundance of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras and staff for providing the needed security.

Jim Zemski, principal with ZCA Residential, agrees.

“Our firm recommends high-speed overhead doors on all of our urban/residential multi-family garages,” he explains. “This dictates that a high level of security is provided, which is solved by the rapid speed that prevents piggybacking and unauthorized pedestrians from entering the secure garage.”

Providing a better environment
In northern states, a number of attached parking structures provide heating during cold months. At an area of 2.4 x 3 m (8 x 10 ft) or larger, the doorway provides an ample hole in the wall for air infiltration and costly energy loss.

Both parking door speed and design can significantly reduce energy costs. A recent study conducted by the Door and Access Systems Manufacturers Association (DASMA) found high-speed doors accessed often would save more energy than heavily insulated doors operating at slower speeds. By cycling in brief seconds, high-speed doors can significantly reduce the loss of heated air.

Once closed, high-speed doors tightly seal the doorway. Doors with anodized aluminum slats have a rubber membrane that covers the connecting hinges. Along with a rubber weather-seal, this keeps out the elements. This protection combines the seals around the full perimeter of the door, including the door guides, which fully enclose the panel’s vertical edges, brush gaskets along the header, and floor-hugging gaskets on the bottom.

Door slats can include acrylic window strips, which let light into the facility to both save lighting energy and provide additional security.

To dissipate vehicle fumes in the parking structure, high-speed doors can have perforated slats to enable buildings to achieve a 75 percent airflow. For facilities with solid-panel high-speed doors, controllers can be connected into the parking structure’s carbon monoxide detection system. When high levels of carbon monoxide (CO) are detected, the system will command the controller to open the door while at the same time alerting facility maintenance personnel.

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