Lifts typically use 3 to 5% of the overall energy consumption of a building. Can we reduce this significant energy consumption and develop green, energy-efficient lifts?
The latest lift technologies include energy-efficient drive motors and transmissions (gearboxes). Through gearless technology, regeneration, VVVF drives and permanent magnet motors, the energy consumption of the most efficient systems is less than 20% of usage by a conventional pole-changing drive.
Lower rise applications that use hydraulic systems are less efficient than drive systems due to their inherent design. However, their energy usage has also improved with new energy-efficient motor technology and bladder-type hydraulic accumulators.
Can you create a green lift if it isn’t practical to update the drive system, or if the costs are prohibitive? Yes. Up to 90% of the energy used by low-use lifts can be from items unrelated to the drive. Even in a frequently used lift, these devices account for at least 4% of the energy consumption. Control systems, ventilation, lighting, displays and operating consoles are the main energy consumers in lifts. Moving to LED lighting, changing to newer more efficient motor designs for ventilation, and using devices that move to a standby mode when not in use saves energy. Lift devices that rest in standby mode prolong the life of the equipment reducing their long-term environmental impact.
Improved traffic handling and management of lifts saves a significant amount of energy. New controllers use logic to determine the best operating mode and reduce energy usage by shutting down shafts during periods of low demand. The use of destination control during periods of peak demand optimises passenger flow and lift movement.
Ensuring that guides are well-maintained can reduce up to 100kg of drag on a lift car.
What about the WEEE directive? Does the WEEE affect lifts and their components?
The WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) directive will be mandatory in Europe by the 15 August 2018. The purpose of this Directive is to contribute to sustainable production and consumption by, as a first priority, “the prevention of waste electrical and electronic equipment and, in addition, by the re-use, recycling and other forms of recovery of such wastes so as to reduce the disposal of waste and to contribute to the efficient use of resources and the retrieval of valuable secondary raw . […].” The Directive specifically excludes lifts from its scope except for components that can be used not just in lifts but also other applications, therefore, items such as switches, lamps or battery packs can be affected by the WEEE directive. When these kinds of products are used, it must be declared in the instruction manuals with guidance for the proper disposal of these components.