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Security in Building Design Falls Short and Adds Costs, Study Finds

Feb. 20, 2024
New report reveals that while security is a new priority in building design, a mismatch between ambition and reality leads to spiraling costs.

Despite an increased commitment to “security-by-design” principles, the building industry is spending significant time and money post-build to fix security issues that present significant retroactive affects. That’s the conclusion reached in a new study on the integrated physical security in building design by Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) practitioners conducted by cloud-based access control and smart building technology provider, Brivo.

A decade ago, security was not considered a top priority, but respondents to the survey indicated it now is one of the three most important building design priorities, second only to safety and sustainability, which were seen as more important. The report, The State of ‘Security-by-Design’: Is Security an Afterthought in Building Design?, surveyed 800 decision-makers in building design across the U.S., UK, and the DACH regions of central Europe (Germany, Austria and Switzerland), and found that physical security is more important in building design than ever.

The good news is that AEC practitioners have responded to this demand, and 56% now have a process for integrating security into building design, and 41% are currently implementing such a process. There is also a good understanding of the need for physical security to be an integral part of design, rather than “patched-in” later, with 94% of AEC practitioners agreeing.

Post-Build Security Issues Costly 

However, reality is falling short of ambition. When responsible for security post-build, many report that fixing physical security problems adds additional costs as high as 20%.

Paula Balmori, director of Global Security Design & System Integrations at Brivo, commented: 

“Time and money spent fixing security issues post-build are a problem, but it’s the retroactive effects that can create real issues. Failing to reach milestones can trigger contractual clauses that lead to damages, and clients can even end up taking legal action if delays are excessive and lead to a break of contract.”

3 Challenges to ‘Security by Design’ 

When asked about the greatest barriers to implementing security by design, respondents cited three main challenges:

  1. Regulations
  2. Budget constraints
  3. Design and aesthetic conflicts 

These problems reflect a change in priority that the industry has yet to fully grapple with, according to the study’s authors. But demands for integrated physical security in design are here to stay: 89% of respondents reported that security was a part of the design briefs they received, and 88% have seen a rise in customer demand for security integration.

“It would be madness today to design a building and leave plumbing, heating and lighting as an afterthought to be figured out later—similarly, we would not expect construction to be postponed because of issues with the planning of these key utilities,” Balmori added. “Physical security needs to be seen the same way. Too often we see sub-par solutions put in place because not enough thought was given to security at the design stage. The good news is that the industry understands this issue—now, they just need to make sure that the results match this understanding.” 

Download a copy of the report to learn more.


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