About The Project
Located on Shermer Road in Northbrook, IL, the Village Green Business Center, a mixed-use commercial and residential property; is home to multiple businesses and 10 luxury apartments. Having both residential and commercial areas within a property, while also accommodating those who are authorized to enter the facility, can be a challenge. The building owner, General Contractor (GC), and suppliers have to take into consideration what works best for tenants, along with their differing needs between commercial and residential tenants. That’s where LaForce comes in, our Electronic Security Systems team specializes in creating custom tailored security solutions, no matter how unique a project is while being cost-effective.
The project scope was the addition of a new building on the site, which included two ground floor retail occupancies and 10 second and third-floor rental apartments. Ownership had planned for the residents to access all common area doors and the garage in the building, including their apartment with just one key fob.
Challenge #1: Detecting Problems Early
After LaForce was awarded the contract project (initially to supply only specified Div. 8 type materials) by the General Contractor, we began to work on providing the doors, frames, and hardware for the facility. As the project progressed one of our Project Engineers, Josh McGown, noticed that a specific brand of electric locks being requested would soon be phased out, and no longer be supported, known as “old technology.” He reached out to Heather Wirz, a Project Manager on our Electronic Security Systems team, and she suggested new electrified locks that would be perfect for the facility long into the future.
Wirz then put the General Contractor, Sterling Renaissance, and the property owner, Selwyn Marcus, in contact with Michael Skolnick and Gregg Schackle, who are a part of LaForce’s Electronic Security Systems team in our Chicago office. They worked together to change both the luxury apartment units and the numerous common area entries on the ground level to the new electrified locks Wirz suggested. In addition, they also worked together to implement an entry system to minimize traditional key usage, and gain improved accountability of who is authorized to enter the facility by issuing key FOBs to authorized personnel.
Prior to installing the access control solutions, McGown noticed on the plan that the project’s ground floor common area entries would be using 12V AC (alternating current) electric strikes. The 12V AC electric strike is suitable for simple basic measures, but is not preferred when a robust access control solution is in place, like at the Village Green Business Center. Rather than using 12V AC electrified locking hardware, McGown recommended changing it to 24V DC (direct current) which would accept the access control system and allow it to continue to function fully in the unlikely event of an unexpected power outage or brief interruption; this is a result of utilizing a low voltage power supply unit equipped with a battery back-up feature. By moving forward with both the access control system and the voltage change in the electrified locking hardware it allowed the Village Green Business Center to save both time and funds, while also eliminating potential headaches in the future, as the facility gains tenants.
Challenge #2: Managing a Duel Access Control System
Skolnick was working with the General Contractor and building owner when it was brought to his attention that one of the tenants, a real estate company, was in need of a large quantity of key cards/FOBs to gain access to their office suite. As a branch office of a larger real estate corporation, the tenant hoped to grant entry to its entire staff, regardless of being assigned to this office within the property or a different branch office. This could mean that in addition to the known tenants within the Village Green Business Center, there could be hundreds of additional building permissions needing to be managed. This posed a challenge, how could we create a system that allowed access for this many people, while still keeping the building secure and easy for the owner to manage – something that was a serious concern they voiced.
Looking for a solution to the challenge, Skolnick came up with the idea of a dual access control system for two of the common area doors, which would be accessed by the real estate tenant in common with the building’s residents. He suggested implementing a second card reader on each of the two common designated entrances, which would be connected to the real estate firm’s stand-alone card-entry system, which they currently use to manage employee authorizations.
The real estate credential that was previously issued to each employee would now function on the dual access control system card readers. When the card is presented at one of the two common doors, a door release function still occurs through an interface, (hard-wired) instituted between the real estate office’s stand-alone system and the property’s system.
This solution also meant that the tenants would not need to be issued a second credential by the property or need to carry multiple key cards/FOBs, allowing for a solution to meet all tenants’ needs.
“I was compelled to come up with a simplified low-cost plan that would not burden the property management’s technology governing the property, while gaining acceptance of such a plan by the tenant’s management team. With all the advances in technology, sometimes the simple method is best”.
– Michael Skolnick, Electronic Security Systems Project Manager
In addition to the electric hardware, LaForce supplied hollow metal frames, hollow metal doors, fire-rated doors, wood door, prefinished knock down frames and standard hardware for the project. Throughout the project, LaForce anticipated items that could cause future issues, such as locks that were being phased out or managing key cards for a business that had needed to accommodate hundreds of employees who may need access to the office. LaForce’s Electronic Security Systems team worked together on this project to provide long-term solutions to the facility with their budget and safety in mind.
“This was the property’s first foray into a keyless card entry system. Support provided by numerous LaForce personnel was superb, in that we needed to fully understand what changes to expect in our management of this building’s various access points, keeping it as simple as possible. While highlighting Michael Skolnick’s invaluable contribution and dedication to solving any challenge during the decision, installation and implementation process, we cannot overlook the additional support provided by Gregg, Heather and other LaForce personnel. This is a quality operation.
The system provides peace of mind knowing that while it is reliant on electric power, our tenants access will not be affected during a power outage, which our area has all too often experienced. The equipment is state of the art, and after one year of use, we are pleased to note that management of the hardware and software has been easy”.
– Selwyn Marcus, Village Green Business Center Owner
The Village Green Business Center is a prime example of how LaForce works with our customers from start to finish to complete the project, and will go beyond the initial requests to ensure that a building is done right the first time. Through crucial communication, brainstorming and problem solving the Village Green Center is now open and secure for local businesses and residents.