LiveGreen: Button pushers

by Melanie Stewart, LiveGreen | January 02, 2018

Image with file name: ADA0102.jpg

You rush up to a building, and it's so cold out that you hit that magical door opening button, also known as an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) button, so you don't have to touch the handle. The door swings open for you and you scamper inside.

You've done a good deed, right? You kept your hands cleaner, used a button that is meant to be used, and in the case of the Durham Outpatient Center, Clarkson Tower and Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, didn't use the big revolving door to sweep cold air into the building. Those are all good thoughts -- but unfortunately wrong.

ADA buttons are designed to be used by people who cannot hold the door open for themselves while safely getting through the doorway. They also can be used in areas where large items, generally carts or beds, will be taken through and the door needs to be held open.

So let's dispel some myths:

  • ADA doors are still designed to be used manually. Even if you can hear the gears moving, you are not damaging them. If you are still concerned, use the door on the other side.
  • The environmental services staff cleans door handles and ADA buttons regularly as part of infection control. The area you touch on a door is larger, and you are more likely to touch a different area there than you would on an ADA button -- not necessarily dirtier, but definitely not any cleaner.
  • ADA doors opened automatically stay open much longer than they would otherwise, letting in a lot of cold/hot air. In addition to making people in the adjacent areas uncomfortable, it takes a lot of energy to counter that change in temperature.
  • In the case of the Durham Outpatient Center, Clarkson Tower and Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer revolving doors, they actually help maintain pressure in the building, as there is always a seal on the edge, and does not bring in a lot of outside air. The ADA door stays open and allows air to be sucked right into the building, making the lobby and atrium cold/hot until the system can catch up, which uses more energy.

Who knew such a little action could have such a big impact? Think before you hit the button next time, only use it if you need to, and always use a revolving door if possible. You'll save energy and make spaces more comfortable for employees and visitors. Plus, you don't end up like this guy!


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Karen Taylor
January 02, 2018 at 11:39 AM

That is a very entertaining video and a great way to make people think! Thanks!!