Photo: 1971yes via GettyImages
Ding! Elevator going up.
Perhaps you've been in an elevator but haven't noticed the strength, mechanics and technicality of the process that it takes to keep one active and running smoothly. In 236 before the common era, Archimedes hooked his famous pulleys to the top of a big wooden box and began to pull; this became the first elevator to be born named Eureka. Simple yet effective, this elevator was made of locally sourced, sustainably produced materials, his person-powered invention is the distant ancestor of a new crop of eco-friendly elevators now adjoining with the growing green-building market.
Did you know?
Some estimates project that buildings consume about 40% of the world's energy, and elevators account for between 2% and 10% of a building's energy use. The leading elevator manufacturers are rising up to get those numbers down. (sourced: asme.org)
Energy consumption of the elevator contributes to it's green eco-friendly properties. In addition, the materials used in the elevator, the process and technologies that are involved are also a huge factor. What may not cross your mind is the choices of interior paints, flooring, lighting, control panels and HVAC systems in the elevator system. All of which these elements contribute valuable properties to a building's overall score for LEED accreditation by the U.S. Green Building Council.
What is LEED?
LEED is a third-party green building certification program and the globally recognized standard for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings and neighborhoods. The rating system approach focuses on efficiency and leadership to deliver the triple bottom line returns of "people, planet and profit."
Appropriate for all building types and phases, including new construction, interior fit-outs, operations and maintenance, and core and shell, LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable effect on the performance of their spaces.
By promoting a whole-building approach to sustainability, LEED recognizes achievements in location and planning, sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, waste reduction, indoor environmental quality, innovative strategies and attention to priority regional issues. (sourced: usgbc.org)
What is MRL Technology?
In the mid-1990s, machine-room-less (MRL) technology was one of the biggest advances in elevator design since they went electric a century before. Miniaturization has made it feasible to house the MRL machinery right in the elevator shaft rather than in a costly rooftop machine room. Incorporating a gearless traction design, MRL elevators in some cases can use up to 80% less energy than hydraulic lifts, without the expense and environmental headaches of oil-filled underground hydraulic cylinders.
KONE, Inc. introduced the first MRL elevator and places so much stock in the technology that the company discontinued manufacturing hydraulic elevators altogether. Its EcoSpace MRL elevator design incorporates a low-friction, gearless hoisting apparatus that prevents wear and reduces energy consumption by half compared to a geared system.
A machine-room-less elevator system by Otis, the Gen2 system, is scalable to save energy in a range of building heights. It too aspires to 50% energy reduction over earlier systems, with the added green bonus of lubrication-free operation thanks to polyurethane coated-steel belts, gearless machine, and roller guides. (sourced: asme.org)
Regenerative Drive Systems Recover Energy
Regen Drive Systems would normally be dissipated as heat, send it back into the buildings' electrical system as ways to recover energy. This technology produces power for lighting and air conditioning; it also saves money by reducing the need for machine-room cooling. Regenerative drives reduce power consumption during peak periods, contributing to a building's overall operational bottom line. (sourced: asme.org)
Elevator technology and mechanics are so advanced and will no longer be as eco-friendly as they were first introduced.
Elevator companies' major goal for the future of eco-friendly elevator technology is to cut down on light loads through precision traffic control, management of interior lighting and other energy-burning factors.
Novel computerized systems help reduce the number of light-load trips while ensuring that there are enough elevators in operation to provide fast service. Schindler's (Morristown, NJ) systems offer an Energy Control Option (ECO) mode that switches unused elevators into standby. If waiting times become too long, the system will activate additional cabs to meet the need. ThyssenKrupp (Memphis, TN) says its Destination Dispatch system improves handling capacity by 15-30%. The system monitors and controls the amount of current delivered to the motor, ensuring the correct level to provide to keep the motor running at full speed. As a result, the motor is protected from peak over-currents, potential overload and sudden power surges. (sourced: asme.org)
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