What Makes an Elevator Green?
It all started with Archimedes, who in 236 B.C.E. attached some pulleys to the top of a big wooden box and began to pull, thus creating the most primitive, but world’s first, elevator. This prototype was made of locally sourced, sustainably produced materials; whatever was available and would get the job done. Ironically, this ancient version of the elevator might be just the machine that homeowners and manufacturers are trying to emulate today. It has inspired the of a new crop of eco-friendly, residential elevators now availing itself to the growing green-building market.
Some estimates project that buildings, both residential and commercial, consume about 40% of the world’s energy, and elevators account for between 2% and 10% of a building’s energy use. In addition, today’s consumers are much more sensitive to their impact on the environment and want to purchase products that are environmentally friendly, likely to save energy and will lessen their carbon footprint. Therefore, the leading residential elevator manufacturers are searching for ways to decrease the amount of energy an elevator uses, and one of the biggest opportunities to do so is by making them green.
What exactly makes an elevator green? The level of energy consumption is key, but that’s just a start. The materials, processes, and even technologies that go into the manufacture of an elevator system also make a difference. So, too, do the choices of interior paints, flooring, control panels, lighting, and HVAC systems. Here are some ways today’s manufacturers are incorporating green elements into elevator design:
- Energy Savings. The drive system in more eco-friendly elevators uses either gearless traction or pneumatic vacuum technology. They use gravity as they descend and much less energy for ascending. With halogen and LED lights in the cab and sensors to automatically shut off lights when not in use, these elevators can save up to 50% of the amount of energy used in a traditional elevator.
- No Machine Room. Eco-friendly elevators do not require a separate machine room to house hydraulic machinery. Instead, all drive equipment is mounted at the top of the elevator shaft where it’s out of the way and safe from any possible flooding. Lack of machine room adds a two-fold green benefit in that it (a)allows for more efficient use of the home’s living space, and (b) there is no risk of hydraulic fluid leaking into or under the house and creating an environmental hazard because there is no hydraulic pump necessary to power the drive system,
- Green Cab. As much as possible, the manufacturers of eco-friendly elevators utilize locally sourced, sustainable, recyclable, low chemical materials in the elevator cabs.
By incorporating all of these green options into building their elevators, manufacturers are able to lower their carbon footprint, which is one of the biggest environmental concerns of today.
At Liftavator, we are proud that our elevators incorporate many of these environmentally friendly features. Our products are either electric or cable-driven elevators that use a pulley, counterweight, electric motor, and track to move the car up and down the shaft or vacuum driven elevators that use air to move—what could be more environmentally friendly than that?!
The electric motor turns the pulley and moves the cables to raise and lower the elevator car. The counterweight helps the elevator use less energy, and the track ensures the counterweight and car don’t sway. No hydraulic pump or fluid is involved.
Our pneumatic vacuum elevators combine a smooth vertical cylinder with a coaxial car that moves up and down through air suction. The principle operation of the elevator is based on the ascending push generated by the difference between the air pressure on the top of the car and the air pressure under the car. The depression (vacuum) required to lift the car is achieved by turbines operating as exhaust fans which are located at the top of the elevator. Vacuum elevators use only a fraction of the energy of traditional lifts. No energy is used on descent (air pressure handles this), and the turbines that power ascent are designed to be efficient and reliable. Consumers often underestimate the added energy costs associated with a traditional heavy elevator.
Many of today’s residential elevators combine the look of luxury with utility and energy efficiency. They look beautiful, increase a home’s value and make homes more accessible, all while using minimal energy and leaving a smaller carbon footprint.
Liftavator, the number-one source for residential, limited use/limited application (LU/LA) in North Carolina, designs, builds, and installs only the highest quality elevators and platform lifts. In addition to the company’s revolutionary designs and ideas, it offers a 90-day guarantee on all labor and materials. Liftavator doesn’t consider a job complete until the customer is 100% satisfied.
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