Standards could cut energy use in lifts by 40%

Energy use in lifts could be cut by 40% or more, but building owners don’t have enough information to identify the right lift system and the potential savings. That’s the conclusion of a study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), published with the support of UTC Building & Industrial Systems, the parent organisation of liftmaker Otis.

Lifts and escalators make up 2-5% of energy used in most buildings, but can reach as much as 50% during peak operational times. Consumption can be reduced by 40% or more, particularly through measures like cutting energy use between trips when a lift is idle, says the study. Some technologies have been found to reduce consumption by as much as 75%, but without a standard way to measure energy savings and a rating system to distinguish more efficient lifts, building owners may be unaware of the benefits of upgrading existing systems or choosing a more efficient system for new construction.

The study, Advancing elevator efficiency, lays out a framework for industry leaders to set common standards for measuring lift efficiency. The report identifies energy efficient lift technologies that can be included in building codes and factored in lift rating and labelling systems. As almost all lifts are idle far more than they are moving, reducing standby power, such as by turning off lights and cab ventilation systems, can be relatively inexpensive and dramatically cut total energy use. In addition, new technologies, such as coated steel belts that replace cable ropes in some elevators, allow for more efficient operation. Advanced dispatching software can improve the customer experience by reducing wait time while cutting energy use in half compared to traditional systems, says the report.

“Enhanced visibility when it comes to elevator efficiency can help customers grasp the full value package of better controls, improved performance, reduced sound, and increased comfort,” said Harvey Sachs, ACEEE senior fellow, and the study’s lead author.

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