Elevators And Energy Use

  October 27, 2009

I'm Brandon Lorenz, senior editor for Building Operating Management magazine. Today's tip: Elevators And Energy Use.

In a multi-tenant building where each tenant pays for his or her own energy costs, it's not unusual for the elevator system to be the largest user of energy in the base building. This is especially true in older high-rise buildings in large cities.

Fortunately, elevator modernizations can reduce the energy use. Regenerative drives are the norm on modern systems, but they can be retrofitted to many older systems too. In a regenerative drive, the braking action against the counterweight during ascent, and against the loaded cab during descent, is fed back into the building to power other systems. Regenerative drives can improve the efficiency of existing systems by an average of 40 percent, manufacturers say.

Other steps include replacing in-cab lighting to be more energy efficient and retrofitting older incandescent bulbs and illuminated call buttons with money-saving LED units.

You can also consider a modernization that puts the cab in hibernation mode when it's not being used. Think of it as an occupancy sensor for the elevator — when it's not in use, the lights and fans are shut down.


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