Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design Now Offered at CPL

How do you design a natural environment to deter someone from carrying out a crime?

Whether you’re a designer, parent, teacher, healthcare professional or community member, the topics of safety and security have inevitably crossed your mind. As designers and engineers, we have a unique opportunity to dissuade criminals with preventative design.

That’s what Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) will do. CPTED is defined as “the proper design and effective use of the built environment that can lead to a reduction in the fear and incidence of crime and an improvement in the quality of life.” This includes physical, social management, and law enforcement directives that seek to affect positive human behavior as people interact with their environment.

“The opportunity to use CPTED is important to us as designers because of how the world is right now,” said Eric Leibenguth, AIA, NCARB, architectural team member in the CPL Raleigh office. “Other than this type of training, there are no other proactive means to educate the design community on how they can help make our communities a safer place.”

Leibenguth recently earned the CPTED Professional Designation from the National Institute of Crime Prevention (NICP). This type of design is applicable throughout all market sectors and is anticipated to grow exponentially as clients place safety at the height of their requirements. Schools, universities, municipalities and healthcare systems are now adopting their own CPTED standards for all to abide by.

Generally speaking, crime prevention is the anticipation, recognition and appraisal of a crime risk and the initiation of some action to remove or reduce the risk. The goal of CPTED is to reduce opportunities for crime that may be inherent in the design of structures or in the design of neighborhoods. This goal is accomplished through the involvement of CPTED practitioners in the planning, development, and design review of community projects.

“Lighting is a number one driver of crime,” said Leibenguth. “CPTED uses tools to evaluate environmental conditions and utilize interventional methods to correct the problem, which might include avoiding areas of concealment from a built standpoint. Nowadays, most spaces don’t reach the required standard for illumination,” he explained.

Another aspect of this type of design applies a border definition of a controlled space—fencing or other territorial reinforcement—that explicitly shows users that they are entering a different area or different transition zones, which include public, semi-public, and private.

As someone who is certified in completing CPTED action items, Leibenguth would conduct a full analysis, address all topics in that space, and report which standards need further compliance. CPL’s goal of this assessment would be to come in and assist that client with completing that work, and ultimately make life safer for them.

Leibenguth says his hope is that CPTED standards will protect our communities and children in schools, public spaces, parks, neighborhoods, and in many built environments. These guidelines can lay the groundwork for jurisdictions, be used as a basis of design, and allow for the natural surveillance of normal users, abnormal users, and observers. Educating our clients early on in the process to engage security design professionals and local law enforcement is essential to the success of this program.

As our clients have begun asking for this certification in RFP’s (Request for Proposals) and RFQ’s (Request for Qualifications), CPL encourages utilizing Leibenguth as a resource. Clients can also reach out to the National Institute of Crime Prevention, who would find Leibenguth and CPL in the database and refer us to provide those services.

To learn more about CPTED design and training, reach out to Eric at 919.645.9003 ext. 4003,, or visit

Michelle manages and coordinates CPL’s digital content from social media, blogs and e-newsletters to the firm's website and intranet. She brings high energy, focus and advanced writing skills, which enable her to produce relevant content to inform, inspire and enhance CPL's brand awareness and value propositions.

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