Security: The Other C in CPTED

Violence in the nation’s schools is a harsh reality. According to a Washington Post report published in March 2018, between 1999 (Columbine) and 2018, more than 187,000 students across 193 primary or secondary institutions experienced a shooting on school campus—during school hours, nonetheless. Meanwhile, a study produced by the Department of Homeland Security shows that generally speaking, Americans feel that schools are the one place kids should feel eminently safe—in some cases even more so than in their own homes. For decades now, architects have done their part to meet those expectations through designs that key in on safety and security. And they have done so partly by leaning on the principals of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED).

The concept of environmental design as a preemptive safety measure is far from new and spans beyond criminology. For example, some experts point to a time in the 1850s, when a London-based medical doctor removed the pump handle from a contaminated well, halting a deadly cholera outbreak. But when it comes to crime prevention, research starting in the 1960s laid the groundwork for the involvement of architects—including studies funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development examining the differences between opposing complexes, some of which thrived, others of which never exceeded 60 percent occupancy. That is when criminologists began dissecting designs, pinning down the structural and environmental characteristics associated with crime.

Today, CPTED goes so far as anticipating the thought processes of potential offenders amid design processes, in order to create environments in which they feel discouraged from follow-through. And though this practice has been part of school design for decades, Jim Henderson, operations manager for Moseley Architects’ office in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and a managing principal for K-12 projects across Virginia and Maryland suggests it was Columbine that helped to boost those efforts.

“There were incidents in schools before that, but that was the one that got people’s attention and really got everyone thinking a lot more about these concepts,” Henderson suggests, who was then seven years into his career as an architect.

Despite our best collective efforts, however, Henderson points out that these incidents continue to occur on a much too regular basis, reminding us, he says, that there is more work to be done. In February 2018, 17 people were fatally shot and 17 more injured at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. At Santa Fe High School in Texas, 10 more were killed that following May. And for this reason, Henderson and other architects at Moseley Architects say—with hard evidence pointing to CPTED’s effectiveness—the concept is more than just a set of checkboxes; it is a guttural urge and a moral responsibility that fuels their creativity.

“I have a young son. He’s in the first grade,” reflects Ashley Dennis, AIA, operations manager for Moseley Architects’ North Carolina-based studios and managing principal for K-12 projects. “It hits close to home when we discuss this topic at conferences because it’s heart-wrenching. As a designer, you want to do the best you can for any and everybody—for every district, every school and every group of students, teachers, and parents.”

No One Formula is Best

At a basic level, CPTED calls on four principles: natural surveillance (on the premise that criminals do not like being seen or recognized), natural access control (denying a sense of control through marked approaches), territorial reinforcement (clear distinctions between public and private spaces) and maintenance (on the premise that well-maintained structures show that people care about what happens inside). Over the years, however, evidence-based research has resulted in countless other concepts—including the culmination of individual ideas by various architects. As a result, “We’ve got a lot of institutional knowledge, just from the volume of schools that we’ve done,” Henderson says. But he and Dennis both warn that, in their opinions, CPTED should never include a formulaic approach, but rather applied during the creative process, based on the uniqueness of the project.

“Not every site is the same, nor is every district,” Dennis remarks. “We really approach this on a school-by-school basis to avoid cookie-cutter designs.”

In most cases, that process starts with a fresh take on the perimeter, Henderson says, where fencing is incorporated, along with appropriate levels of lighting and clearly visible entry systems. Beyond those fences, roofs are made extremely difficult to access and electronic door locks prevent entry by unauthorized individuals. However, research shows that most school shooters include students, faculty or staff—all of whom have access. For this reason, architects are pressed to also consider what happens on the inside, after those individuals have gained entry.

“Instead of just thinking of the building perimeter, like the front door and other access points, and systems for centralized lockdown, we’re also creating things like clusters of classrooms, where we can generate sub-perimeters and partitions,” Henderson says. “For instance, you may hit a panic button to close doors and lock off one section, which might include four classrooms around one open area.”

Inside those individual classrooms, Henderson says their designs often incorporate small sections of wall to partition off views from doorways.

“Sometimes you might not have time to, or want to, go to the door to pull down a shade, or close blinds, especially if an intruder is right outside,” he advises. He also says that studies show criminals are apt to skip over classrooms they cannot see into. By designing classrooms around that fact, he says teachers can then be trained to move students to a part of the classroom that is obstructed from windows and doors, where an active shooter cannot see without gaining interior access. Therein lies what Henderson and Dennis both suggest is an added layer for CPTED, and one they feel is most important: training occupants to understand the designed environment.

According to information published by the American Institute of Architects, 70 percent of schools run active-shooter drills, but Henderson and Dennis suggest that training must go deeper than that.

“When we’re designing new schools, additions or renovations, ensuring that we’re educating teachers, administration and staff is such an important part of the process,” Dennis says. “You’ve got to help them understand how buildings are designed to be secured—things like points of entry and security. But it’s also about being educated to know what you should expect—like what they should see and not see at various times in various locations throughout the day, as well as when to say something.”

Part of that process, Dennis says, includes helping school personnel and administrators to understand how and why Moseley Architects arrived at a design. “That way it isn’t just a last-ditch effort of reactionary lockdowns,” she continues. “It’s everything leading up to those moments that may help prevent future incidents.”

That component is what some experts call the organizational aspects of CPTED, which, “… includes how we incorporate management strategies, operational strategies, and people-based strategies,” says Randy Atlas, Ph.D., FAIA, CPP, president of Atlas Safety and Security Design Inc. in Ft. Lauderdale. That extends to emergency personnel outside of the building, Henderson adds. For instance, he says that architects will sometimes develop numbered systems for access points, then provide local responders with maps, which school administrators can then use to communicate for strategy.

“We can place these big, three-foot numbers right next to all of the entrances,” he says. “They have the school plans and can call them up when they’re approaching a building.”

Education First

Henderson and Dennis both warn that there’s a point at which architects have to begin dialing back security, for the sake of avoiding schools that feel like prisons.

“We do have a moral obligation to make these schools as safe as possible,” Henderson says. “But, as educational designers, we also have a real obligation to make them the best learning environments they can be. That remains our first objective.”

To his point, a 2010 study found negative correlations between the presence of metal detectors and students’ sense of safety. And some experts suggest that, in its earliest days, those sorts of unintended consequences plagued CPTED. But when approached from the right angle, the Centers for Disease Control also suggests the right elements also can bear out opposite effects—including benefits like the perception of warmer and more welcoming environments, improved physical and social order, and a sense of ownership among students. That’s a concept that John Edmund, Moseley Architects’ security systems specialist, says he considers when advising the firm’s design teams.

“We’ve got to find that middle ground,” he offers. “And that makes it kind of tricky. You want to give students the best security possible, but you also can’t turn each school into Fort Knox. I don’t want it looking that way for students.”

Instead, Edmund suggests that there are plenty of ways to get better results out of fewer components. For instance, he suggests that in lieu of bullet-shaped (directional) cameras, dome-style cameras be used instead.

“Sometimes you’re limited, so you want to do the most that you can,” he continues. “A single, dome-shaped camera with a smoked lens might help to deter more than one camera pointing at a door, where they know that’s the only place they’ve got to worry about being seen.” And that, he suggests, has fewer psychological impacts on students (than an abundance of cameras). Plus, “When the budget doesn’t allow for cameras everywhere, I’d rather have one that makes you think it could be looking anywhere,” he adds.

An Artificial Sweetener

As far as the future of CPTED is concerned, it will no doubt include more creativity, but it may also include artificial intelligence, Edmund suggests. For instance, he says already there are artificially-intelligent cameras, programmed to detect when individuals are in areas they should not be. And those cameras, he says, could be where some of the next advancements come for CPTED, via artificial intelligence.

“For years, cameras have activated on motion, but now you can actually program some systems with if/then commands, like, ‘If you see something that looks like a person in this area, send an alarm,’” he says. These features, he suggests, are akin to the Automatic Driver Assist Systems now found on vehicles, which are designed to intercede in certain events (like when drivers fail to notice a stopped vehicle, for instance). Those systems have grown intelligent enough to distinguish specific objects. In security, he says, that might mean being able to spot firearms.

“I’ve not seen that yet in real life,” Henderson adds. “But I think that if there’s anything we can do to make our administrators and school personnel focus on their jobs, versus focusing on security, that would be awesome.” As you know, he says, “With technology, just wait a couple of months and it might be here.”

While security will remain at the forefront of design, school districts have a tall task of properly preparing students for the future. Our role as educational architects is designing solutions that are responsive to those needs while creating safe learning environments that support and welcome children.

For more information about Moseley Architects’ educational projects, click here.

Informed Design Lessons Learned

How Moseley Architects Uses Analysis to Leverage Design Creativity

Moseley Architects has been working since 2000 to continually improve the sustainability of its design portfolio. Over the past four years, the firm has placed a particular emphasis on integrating performance analysis into its early design process. John Nichols, Moseley’s Director of Energy Analytics and Informed Design, has led this effort since its inception, and recently sat down with us to share his insights. From massings to metrics and envelope to fenestration, here is an overview of Moseley’s modeling approach along with four important lessons the firm has learned along the way.

Moseley’s “Informed Design” Initiative

The intent of the Informed Design initiative is to combine the power of analysis with the creativity of design teams to improve building performance across Moseley’s diverse project portfolio. According to John, the name Informed Design “speaks to our goal of making decisions in response to modeling data in a way that leverages our designers’ inherent creativity, without being limited or boxed in by numbers alone.”

A secondary goal of the initiative was to improve the firm’s AIA 2030 Commitment performance. “We were struggling with the 2030 Commitment in the sense that it’s like a GPS signal without navigation,” says John. “It shows us where we are versus where we want to be, but it lacks any turn-by-turn guidance to help get us from A to B. We needed a process that could help bridge that gap.”

The result was a lightweight, collaborative workflow for schematic analysis that capitalizes on performance data from Sefaira’s analysis plugin and web application. After an initial pilot phase that involved an architect from each of Moseley’s offices and market sectors, John worked to expand the process firm-wide.

To date, Moseley Architects has implemented Sefaira analysis on over 50 projects and 20 interviews across five different market sectors. Here are four key takeaways from the firm’s experience thus far.

1. Massing-Stage Analysis is Key to Informing Design

Moseley’s experience reaffirms the importance of massing decisions, particularly on daylighting and HVAC loads. John’s experience has also been that the visibility of data at this stage focuses priorities and helps to stimulate discussion about performance between the client and design team.

Image 1
Massing analysis showing breakdown of energy end uses and annual daylight metrics. Image copyright Moseley Architects, used with permission.

As shown above, even a simple massing comparison inevitably raises questions. “Why is the cooling load in the plaza option so high? Why is the daylight performance of the Courtyard scheme worse than the L option?” These types of questions lead to conversation, follow-up analyses, and often to design changes. For example, reworking the “plaza” massing in this example significantly improved its performance, while a daylight visualization of the “courtyard” and “L” schemes clarified the advantages of the latter.

Image 2
Reworking the “Plaza” option in response to the original analysis data greatly improved its energy and daylight performance. Image copyright Moseley Architects, used with permission.

“Just having this type of discussion before the floor plan and massing have been ‘nailed down’ is a big step forward,” says John — and often leads to improvements that would not have otherwise materialized.

Image 3
A daylight study shows the advantages of an L scheme over the option with a small courtyard. Image copyright Moseley Architects, used with permission.

2. EUI Isn’t Always the Best Metric

Many design teams and clients are readily familiar with Energy Use Intensity (EUI), and projects may even have specific EUI targets. But while EUI is an important point of comparison, it doesn’t tell the whole story. In particular, John’s experience is that:

  • EUI doesn’t always align with energy cost, or with carbon emissions, which may be more important goals on many projects; and
  • EUI can mask differences in total energy use and cost, which are often caused by differences in square footage between options.

The key take-away from these analyses, according to John, is that looking at cost, carbon, comfort, and peak loads can reveal problems or opportunities that may otherwise go unnoticed when EUI is used as the sole metric.

Image 5
Project B has a slightly lower EUI than Project A, but significantly higher energy costs and carbon emissions. Such discrepancies are often due to the different costs and carbon intensities of on-site natural gas vs. electric heating in areas with a coal-dominated electric grid. Image copyright Moseley Architects, used with permission.
Image 6
A more efficient layout with less circulation and support space (i.e. higher Building Efficiency Ratio) can result in real savings in upfront capital costs and ongoing energy costs, even if the resulting EUI is slightly higher.

3. The Envelope Matters — Even on Large, Internally-Loaded Buildings

Conventional wisdom holds that big buildings are “internally loaded” — dominated by loads like lighting, appliances, and ventilation — and therefore the envelope is less important than on small buildings.

Image 7
Energy consumption tends to be dominated by external loads in small buildings, and by internal loads in large buildings. But this doesn’t tell the whole story. Image copyright Moseley Architects, used with permission.

While Moseley’s modeling experience bears this out when looking at overall energy use, John has also seen that the envelope still matters when viewed on a space-by-space level. Visual comfort, thermal comfort (particularly in spaces with lots of glazing), and peak heating and cooling loads can all be significantly impacted by the envelope (Image 8), which may not be apparent if the analysis focuses only on the building’s energy use. According to John, early decisions that reduce peak loads can result in smaller, less expensive HVAC system, which is a valuable addition to their ongoing annual energy savings.

Image 8
Glazing orientation has a big impact on daylight quality and solar heat gain, as seen here for a pair of classrooms with a shared corridor. Even on projects where the overall building orientation is driven by site or other constraints, the orientation of key program spaces can greatly affect both comfort and HVAC loads.

4. Glazing Decisions are too Complex to be Made by Rules of Thumb

Glazing size, glass properties, and shading devices need to be studied together in order to make optimal glazing decisions. In the example below, a study of clerestory windows in a gymnasium demonstrated that glass with higher visible light transmittance allows the glazed area to be significantly smaller, enabling the project to achieve the same daylight levels with less construction cost and better energy performance — a finding that would have been missed if the glazing was selected primary based on its Solar Heat Gain Coefficient. Similarly, a comparison of different toplighting options for a fire station revealed that several small unit skylights were the most effective solution for both energy and daylight — which ran contrary to the team’s initial expectation.

Image 9
Glass with higher Visible Light Transmittance (VLT) can sometimes achieve the same daylighting results with a smaller glazed area, as proved to be the case for the gymnasium clerestory windows shown here.

Image 10


In addition to these and many other lessons-learned, Moseley Architects has seen early-phase analysis lead to a number of improvements to the firm’s design process and project outcomes. Since launching the Informed Design workflow, Moseley Architects’ use of energy modeling as a design tool has increased from less than 40% of projects to now more than 60%. While less quantifiable, John also sees positive impacts on team collaboration, client relationships, and internal knowledge around performance. Moseley Architects’ experience shows that fast, lightweight analysis can be deployed effectively across a firm, can have a meaningful impact on performance outcomes, and can add real value to projects.

About Sefaira

Sefaira’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution enables architects, building engineers, and designers to create more energy-efficient and comfortable spaces. By using Sefaira, practitioners can reduce energy use while optimizing for better occupant comfort, effective natural daylighting, and appropriately-sized heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Learn more at

Moseley Architects Offers Leadership to Virginia’s Task Force on School and Campus Safety

Following the tragic school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell appointed the Task Force on School and Campus Safety.  The charge to the task force included the formation of recommendations addressing the safety and security needs faced by Virginia’s public schools.  The Task Force convened a Public Safety Work Group and from that effort a School Design Sub-Group was constituted.

The School Design Sub-Group was comprised of leading state officials who have the responsibility for the creation and implementation of various design codes, local and state law enforcement officials, higher education representatives, K-12 representatives, and private sector school design professionals.  The group was co-chaired by Henrico County VA Police Chief Douglas A. Middleton and Moseley Architects President Stewart D. Roberson.  Moseley Architects was also represented on the group by Douglas A. Westmoreland, AIA, a leading school architect in Virginia.

The School Design Sub-Group offered several recommendations to the Task Force on July 31, 2013.  Among them, the group addressed infrastructure, communications, and building code issues, concerns, and opportunities.  The recommendations may be found by following this link:  School Design Sub-Group Final Report 20130701

Energy Case Study: Henderson County Public Schools

According to ratings received by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program for buildings, both Hillandale and Mills River have nationally ranked in the 90th percentile of K-12 building energy performance in each of their three years of operation. Dave Lyons, Energy Manager for Henderson County Public Schools (HCPS), indicates that “Hillandale and Mills River continue to have the best energy performance of any school in our district.”

Although a wide variety of HVAC, lighting, and building envelope improvements were included in the schools’ design, three main strategies played a central role in delivering energy use reductions:

1) Integrated Daylighting Approach – As daylighting relies on a complex interaction of many different components, Moseley Architects’ designers undertook significant steps to bring these parts together in the right way. Each building on its site follows an east-west (E-W) axis to allow all classrooms to face north or south. Despite different site constraints at each school, both buildings were able to be oriented within 15 degrees of this ideal E-W axis.

2) Demand-Controlled Ventilation And Dedicated Outside Air Systems – To promote further reductions in energy use, Optima Engineering utilized a combination of Demand-controlled Ventilation (DCV) and Dedicated Outside Air Systems (DOAS) in conjunction with the schools’ water source heat pumps.

3) Energy Management And A Culture Of Conservation – Extending beyond the features inherent in Hillandale and Mills River’s design, principals and staff at both schools are taking an active role in keeping their utility costs in check. Mills River’s Principal Todd Murphy concurs, “These are brand new facilities that we’re proud of and we obviously want to take care of them. We look at them as our homes. With our facilities being green schools, we work on incorporating that theme into the classroom as well.”

For more information, download the complete case study here: Henderson County Schools Case Study


Jail Population Trends

In April 2012, the US Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) released its annual report on “Jail Inmates at Midyear 2011.”  This report documents trends in the nation’s jail population and presents a profile of people confined in jail across the country. Since the report was first issued in 1982, the number of persons confined in jails nationwide in June of each year peaked in June 2008 at 785,533 inmates. Midyear 2011 marked the third straight year of declining jail inmate populations, and from June 2010 to June 2011, the total number of persons confined in county and city jails nationwide (735,601) declined by 1.8%, or 13,127 inmates. Since June 2008, reported annual jail populations have declined by an average of 2.2% (16,644 people) per year.

While both the nation’s confined jail population and rated capacity of the jail system (the maximum number of beds allocated to each jail by a state or local official) increased at comparable rates from 2000 through 2008, since 2008 the confined jail population has declined by about 2% per year while the number of available jail beds increased by the same percentage. As a result, the jail population as a percent of rated capacity declined from roughly 95% of capacity in 2008, to 84% of capacity in 2011.

Other findings of note in the BJS report include:

  • Other findings of note in the BJS report include:
    • The nation’s jail incarceration rate – the number confined in jail per 100,000 U.S. residents dropped from 259 per 100,000 in 2007, to 236 at midyear 2011 – the lowest incarceration rate since 2002.
    • Across the nation, local jails admitted 11.8 million persons during the 12 months ending midyear 2011, down from 12.9 million admitted during the same period in 2010, and 13.6 million in 2008.
    • Over the ten-year period ending in 2011, the rated capacity of jails nationwide increased from 699,309 in 2001, to 877,302 in 2011 – an increase of 25% and 177,993 jail beds.
    • Despite recent annual declines in the jail population, over the past decade the number of prisoners confined in jails grew from 631,240 in 2001, to 735,601 in 2011 – an increase of 104,361 prisoners and 16.5% growth. Will this trend continue, or are we seeing a turning point? The rate of decline in Virginia’s jail population began to slow in FY2011, and there were about the same number of local-responsible inmates in Virginia jails in FY2011 as was reported in FY2010.

In Virginia, jail population declines have also been reported since midyear 2008. After substantial growth of more than 7% in both fiscal year (FY) 2006 and FY2007 (years ending June of each year), the average local-responsible jail population (those prisoners in jail who are neither State nor Federal inmates) dropped by 1.7% in FY2008. This was followed by declines of about 3% each year through FY2010.

Will this trend continue, or are we seeing a turning point? The rate of decline in Virginia’s jail population began to slow in FY2011, and there were about the same number of local-responsible inmates in Virginia jails in FY2011 as was reported in FY2010.

Based on official statewide forecasts produced in November 2011, the number of admissions to Virginia jails and the local responsible jail inmate population in Virginia is projected to begin increasing in 2012 and continue to grow over the next five years.


Video Visitation Advancements

Recently Moseley Architects invited some current and prospective clients to our Richmond office for presentations and demonstrations of video visitation systems. Our guests, jail administrators, sheriffs, corrections planners and state corrections personnel were introduced to three different video visitation system manufacturers and a systems integrator, all who specialize in the installation and maintenance of video visitation systems in jail and prison systems.  The manufacturers Renovo Software, VizVox, LLC, and Innovisit, LLC, conducted demonstrations and presented information of their respective products.  They identified the systems primary components, described the systems’ functionalities, presented cost options, and discussed the standard and optional features available.

Today, most Moseley Architects’ jail and prison designs incorporate video visitation components into the plans. The question of whether video visitation saves money is no longer a matter of debate – it does. How quickly a system pays for itself is not as clear, and savings are not always easy to quantify. Paybacks result from (1) labor savings as a result of not having to escort inmates to and from housing areas to visitor stations and reduced management of the public in the visitor area; (2) labor and transportation savings from not having to transport inmates for professional visits such as courtroom arraignments, medical, and attorney consultations, and (3) reduction in contraband entering the facility and increased safety and security of staff and inmates.

Increasingly, video visitation systems offer what promises to be such potentially cost-effective options as Web-based self-scheduling systems, real time monitoring of visits, digital storage of visits, video arraignment, and court document software which allows detainees to review and electronically sign court documents.  A major advance has also been the development of optional features for visitation systems to allow integration with jail or prison management information systems, commissary systems, email accounts and library/educational program accounts. Video visitation and arraignment in jails and prisons is increasingly replacing inmates’ in-person courtroom visits, parole board and even replacing face-to-face psychiatric, medical and attorney consultations. All of which have the potential to save time and money.

The most obvious way to generate revenue from video visitation is charge for visits. While a certain number of free visits are required in all jurisdictions (the number varies by locality) there is generally no prohibition against charging fees for additional visits and fees for these visits can typically be set by administrators. Some agencies provide multiple visitor centers in the community from which visitors can participate in remote visits. Visitors can choose from one of several locations in the community and are charged fees for this convenience “service.” Community video centers are in such places as local police stations, community centers, other jails or prisons in the area, or local churches.

Correctional and detention facilities are increasingly moving to internet visitation to provide an easier visiting solution for the public, reduce contraband entering the facility, and generate additional revenue. In one locality a mobile detention visitation bus travels the county and makes stops at strategic locations.

The issue of allowing nonprofessional visitors to chat with inmates from their residences is still an issue up for debate. Many officials are not yet comfortable with the overall lack of content control and control over “who” is talking to the inmate on the other end of the line. No doubt technology will continue to advance to address these concerns. As advances are made, the probability that video systems will not only pay for themselves but become increasing sources of revenue.