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Building Construction, Environment

How an unchivalrous inventor’s 1888 creation is boosting energy savings, security, and hygiene in Australia’s buildings

Boon Edam Australia 4 mins read
Theophilus Van Kannel invented the revolving door because he refused to accept that men must always hold the door open for women. Now, revolving doors are champions of energy saving, security, and hygiene in buildings and facilities.

Fans of Charlie Chaplin may recall a hilarious sequence in The Cure, where he gets chased by a bellhop for two minutes inside a revolving door. The revolving door was in fact conceived just 29 years prior, in 1888, and its invention was no laughing matter.


A nineteenth century US inventor refused to accept that men must always open the door for women. Theophilus Van Kannel believed women were quite capable of opening a door themselves and rebelled against the customs of the day. He reportedly once told his wife, “You’re a grown woman and can locomote perfectly well on your own.”


Van Kannel worked on a solution to his grievance and was granted a patent for a ‘storm door structure’. Establishments were quick to realise the benefits of his innovation. The doors allowed people to enter and leave at the same time and kept out the elements. Today, revolving doors are commonplace in many commercial establishments as businesses appreciate their enormous advantages, including touchless entry. These doors also keep dust, pollution, and unfiltered air away from the building.


Energy saving benefits


One major benefit of revolving doors is their ability to reduce energy consumption. “HVAC systems can account for up to 50 percent of a commercial building’s energy use and revolving doors can be up to eight times more energy-efficient than their hinged counterparts,” says Michael Fisher, Managing Director of the Australian operation of the global architectural revolving door and security entrance specialist, Royal Boon Edam.


Rising energy prices are putting pressure on building managers to control operating expenses. With a revolving door, at least one panel is almost sealing the building and reducing the amount of energy leaving it. “They reduce operating costs for commercial buildings and lower their carbon footprint,” says Fisher. 


“With risks concerning cross-contamination in public spaces at an all-time high, the interest in manual to automatic door upgrades has dramatically increased,” says Fisher. Boon Edam also has considerable experience in retrofitting existing buildings with their revolving doors.


Boon Edam’s energy savings calculation software can determine the environmental advantages of a revolving door compared to traditional sliding and swing doors. “Taking the most relevant information on the building and local weather information from reputed weather stations, we can make an accurate and detailed calculation for a specific situation,” says Fisher. “The total cost of ownership for revolving doors is far less than the perception.”


Rising energy costs are reducing the payback period for installing a revolving door. At current energy prices, the software estimates that Melbourne has the quickest payback time of four years, with Brisbane next at 4.9 years and Sydney at 5.7 years and shrinking.


150 years of innovation


Headquartered in the Netherlands, Royal Boon Edam has a history of innovation going back more than 150 years. Today, the company continues to push boundaries with building access products that can incorporate facial recognition, security systems and touchless entry solutions.


Boon Edam is the first manufacturer of revolving doors to release BIM objects of their products. The company has a long history working closely with architects and builders in the construction industry and understands the advantages of BIM for its customers. “We have created BIM objects for our products to make it as easy as possible to incorporate our objects into their design model,” says Fisher.


Boon Edam’s BIM object is more than just a visual 3D model – it also covers other dimensions such as time, cost, construction, and safety. Architects can place the BIM object of a revolving door into their building project and manipulate it to fit the design of the façade and lobby.


The company is also a pioneer in touchless security entrances, which eliminate the need for users to make physical contact with doors and panels. With the increased focus on social distancing, there is a strong interest in these systems. Boon Edam’s doors work with a range of available technological solutions from gesture control to facial recognition. “Our security entrances have been designed to be integrated with access control or biometric systems such as access cards, Bluetooth readers and touchless fingerprint scanners,” says Fisher.


Inventor Van Kannel went on to build a successful business manufacturing revolving doors in the nineteenth century. He was, one could argue, a true believer in his brainchild. There are reports that he fitted his own home and his mother’s house with 14 revolving doors from the first batch manufactured.

About us:

With work environments becoming increasingly global and dynamic, smart, safe entry has become the centre of activity in and around many buildings. Royal Boon Edam is a global market leader in reliable entry solutions. Headquartered in the Netherlands, with 150 years of experience in engineering quality, we have gained extensive expertise in managing the transit of people through office buildings, airports, healthcare facilities, hotels, and many other types of buildings. We are focussed on providing an optimal, sustainable experience for our clients and their clients. By working together with you, our client, we help determine the exact requirements for the entry point in and around your building.

 Please take a look at our range of revolving doors, security doors & portals, speed gates, tripod turnstiles, access gates and full height turnstiles to ensure the security of your entry and perimeter.

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Contact details:

Jack Mallen-Cooper
PR Consultant
Whyte Public Relations
(02) 9901 4306


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