What Else Are Your Doors Letting Into Your Building?

Is your building entrance admitting too much heat, cold, pollution, debris, snow or rain? If so, a redesign of your doors may be in order.

Recently, the city of New York passed a law stating all city businesses are now required to keep their doors closed during business hours. We’ve all seen this: businesses on a crowded thoroughfare with their doors propped open to make it easier for passersby to be enticed into spending some money. Unfortunately, the problem with propped doors was the large amount of energy that was being wasted by heat and conditioned air leaking out of these establishments. That’s why city officials moved to put a stop to this practice.

Energy freely escaping any building is clearly not good, and it is likely that other cities will follow New York’s example, but how many of us consider what we may be letting into our buildings? Unwanted materials or substances often include hot and cold air, dust, fumes, dirt, snow, rain and anything else that can make it through. What’s surprising is that most building managers don’t consider the impact of these undesirables when they specify a door – but they certainly should. The type of door you have can make all the difference.

RELATED: 4 ‘Gotchas’ That Could Derail Your Front Entrance Security Upgrades

Let’s review the many unwanted “guests” that come in through swinging and sliding doors.

Cold and Hot Air
Unwelcome temperature and humidity differentials can make a lobby downright inhospitable, which is the last thing a hospital or school needs. No building is ever intended to have a frigid 50-degree or sweltering 85-degree lobby. Yet, with sliding or swinging doors, it happens, and the fine décor and seating areas are ignored as people flee the lobby.

Aside from people feeling downright uncomfortable and distracted, there is a costly load impact to the building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, which must work to replenish the lost heat or cooled air. A study conducted at MIT in 2006 on a particular building found that its two revolving doors reduced air infiltration by as much as 800 percent compared to the swinging doors in the same building. If the students could be convinced to use only the revolving doors, 15 tons of CO2 or $7,500 in natural gas could be saved annually.

Another unwelcome guest is wind. Dublin City College in Ireland experienced this discomfort in their student union where the doors were often left open. Initially, the building had a single pair of sliding doors, which during the colder months would allow so much wind into the lobby atrium that a wind tunnel was created. As a result, papers on bulletin boards would fly off, and displays and stands for events would blow over. Additionally, patrons would huddle away from the wind coming through the doorway.

The solution to this challenge was to replace the sliding doors with a revolving door. Now the entire space has been reclaimed for year-round comfort and happier attendees.

RELATED: Guarding the Front Door: School Visitor Management Best Practices

When it comes to restaurants and retail, outdoor air and wind can have a negative impact on revenue. Have you ever been to a small restaurant and were seated at a table near the door? You probably asked to be moved because it was so drafty and uncomfortable. No waiter wants that section of tables near the front door either. Larger restaurants tend to create waiting areas as a foyer that separates the entrance from the dining room – a kind of “dead, sensory-deprived, holding tank” for unseated customers. But, is it really necessary for the restaurant to pay for all that extra space and get nothing in return, or keep customers waiting for refreshment?

Bonefish Grill started installing revolving doors back in 2006 around the country, introducing a new concept:  customers enter directly into a comfortable, lively bar area via a revolving door. They sign in with the hostess for a seat in the dining room and can have a drink and appetizer in the bar area right away-thus ringing up sales within minutes. Every square foot of the floorplan is now productive, energized and revenue driven.

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