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.

No one ever expects to hear outside sounds once they have crossed a threshold to the interior of a building. The idea is to leave the world “out there” behind you and enter a new environment. That was the plan all along when the building was designed. However, rarely do things go as planned, particularly in urban areas, airports, near stadiums or even at the town square in a small town. Noise infiltration is especially unwelcome for libraries, hospitals, schools and hotels, all of which seek to create a peaceful atmosphere for learning, healing or escape.

These examples are obvious, but in reality no lobby in any building should have noise from the outside. Haven’t we all experienced entering a nice hotel in a busy downtown area and a jackhammer was within 100 feet of us? Every time that sliding door stayed open due to guests constantly coming in and out, didn’t it sound like you were outside waiting to hail a cab from the street? The interior may appear to be fit for a king, but none of that matters, right?

On university campuses, consider the sound of a student pep rally or cultural event right outside a library on the quad and the impact an open swing door would have on those trying to crack the books.

Garbage, Debris, Water and Pollution
Because each of us comes through an entrance only once, we probably don’t think of all the dirt, debris, water and other materials that come into a building lobby from hundreds or even thousands of pedestrians entering each day. The facility manager, however, certainly does.

For example, a chain of hospitals in Wisconsin made a simple yet highly effective change to its entrances. Now, instead of a single sliding door, the entryways have a sliding door followed 20 feet inside the building by a revolving door (see diagram below).

door diagram

This diagram illustrates an effective way to keep your building lobbies free of debris, noise, rain and snow. A sliding door is installed closest to the street. Then, a vestibule about 20 feet wide is placed behind the sliding doors and in front of a revolving door. Be certain to also include secondary/emergency egress to any entrance.

This single design change had enormous positive effects on these medical buildings. Not only did the new set-up stop a wind tunnel that employees had to suffer through, but the facility manager noticed almost immediately another unexpected benefit. The distance between the sliding door and the revolving door created a vestibule, and combined with the right kind of flooring, most of the debris and trash coming from the outside stayed outside (in the vestibule). The lobby remained much cleaner and more appealing.

These lobbies went from gusty and often dirty or wet (posing a slip-and-fall risk) to temperature-controlled, clean environments. And there was another bonus:  by stopping nearly all the dirt, debris, snow and rain before the revolving door, costly maintenance on that door was cut substantially. Additionally, the faci
lity’s energy bills decreased.

Disagreeable odors are another unwanted “guest” that most building designers do not consider when they specify a door. Admittedly, there are plenty of buildings that aren’t around bad odors, for example, out in the suburbs or on nice campuses. But there are a staggering number of urban buildings subject to fumes from cars, diesel trucks, sewage systems and rotting garbage. There are entire towns with commercial buildings, government buildings, hospitals, hotels and universities that are downwind from poultry processing plants, livestock or paper mills. Often these buildings use swinging or sliding doors that allow foul odors to enter. Installing different doors can help to address this issue.

Do your Entrance Doors Truly Fit Your Needs?
The vast majority of buildings have many unwanted elements coming through their doors.  Often the management of these buildings don’t know how much pain or expense their organizations are incurring unless there is a crisis.

Choosing the right entrance can make all the difference in solving problems of environment, cleanliness, excessive noise or noxious smells. Often, the solution is to significantly reduce air infiltration by installing a revolving door. In places with more challenging climates, a combination of a sliding and revolving door may be appropriate. Unfortunately, without a sufficient pain point, decision makers are often hesitant to make the jump to the entrance they really need.

Are you grinning and bearing it with the wrong entrance for your building?

Tracie Thomas is the marketing manager for Boon Edam Inc.

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