Security: Lighting and Landscaping
By Michael Khairallah Senior Security Systems Consultant, Security Design Solutions | December 18, 2011
Guest safety is always paramount in the design or renovation of hotels but often that objective is unintentionally defeated by other design considerations. Hotels want an attractive environment for their guests and generally provide lighting and a landscaping plan that enhances the architectural nature of the building and add to the guest experience. The unintended consequence of focusing on these design elements without security considerations can provide unwanted access to the building, concealment for wrongdoers and reduce guest safety.
The elements of private security are to detect, deter, delay and respond to unwanted activity in a protected facility, lighting provides deterrence to criminal activity. In most hotels, the interior lighting plan is generally more than adequate for most safety considerations however; the areas around the property, especially parking lots often do not receive adequate attention.
Most of the criminal acts at shopping centers, strip malls and business offices occur in the parking lot. Lawsuits often revolve around lack of sufficient lighting, surveillance and response. To improve security, deter crime, reduce potential liability and create a safer environment ample lighting in parking lot areas is essential.
Security lighting is used to increase awareness and visual range during periods of darkness or by increased illumination of an area where natural light does not reach or is insufficient. Parking lots are unique and each presents its own problems based on layout, terrain and atmospheric conditions. The goal of exterior lighting is to provide a specified level of light throughout the area and good visibility for guests and employees with minimum glare.
The most severe problem is illuminating the small narrow "corridors" formed by adjacent parked cars. In order to get light into these areas, arrange lighting so that any point in the parking lot has illumination from at least 2 and preferably 4 lighting locations. The source should be with pole lights mounted at a minimum height of 20 ft. The minimum recommended illumination level for parking lots is 1 foot-candle (average maintained horizontal to the surface) for self-parking lots. That minimum level can be increased to 5 foot-candles for aesthetic or commercial reasons such as advertisement of hotel amenities where necessary.
Special attention should also be give to entrances, exits, loading zones and access lanes of parking areas. The acceptable light level “rule of thumb” at parking lot access to public streets should not be less than twice the illumination of the connecting street. Lighting poles should be mounted along the parking barriers and outside boundaries.
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