Green Initiatives in Elevator Design: Saving Energy and the Environment

Sustainability initiatives continue to grow worldwide. Companies are on the hunt for new solutions, tactics, and technologies that help them reduce consumption and demonstrate their commitment to energy efficient operations.

Elevator interiors might not be top-of-mind for business owners interested in hitting sustainability targets or achieving full LEED certification. However, the push for green elevator solutions has boomed over the past few years. Today, businesses have more options than ever to design elevator systems that provide both essential functionality and energy-efficient operations.

Eco-Friendly Elevator Design Choices

The right elevator design options can help businesses achieve LEED certification, particularly with respect to the Energy and Atmosphere category, which relates to building designs that holistically support conservation and efficiency. These days, top eco-friendly design options include:

LED Lighting

LED lighting is a game-changer for energy efficiency. Unlike traditional lighting, LEDs consume less power and last longer. This reduces energy bills, and it lowers the environmental footprint of the building. Plus, modern LED lighting is more durable than options in the past and remains resilient against the shakes and vibrations of elevator usage.

Recycled & Repurposed Materials

Savvy design companies try to integrate recycled materials into elevator construction. Options like recycled metals for cladding, sustainably-sourced wood, and eco-friendly composites reduce the need for new material procurement, which helps buildings stay aligned with modern sustainability goals.

Regenerative Drives

Regenerative drive systems are innovative. They capture and reuse the energy generated by elevators during operation. These systems convert kinetic energy into reusable electricity that is reapplied to power the lift, which reduces energy consumption. Regenerative drive technology can be retrofitted into many existing elevator systems, or it can be built into new elevator designs as part of a holistic green building initiative.

While these options support a building’s journey to full LEED certification, they promote a circular economy in which material repurposing is the norm. These practices move us away from outdated, wasteful construction and toward design and construction choices that align with increasing demand for sustainability.

Sustainable Design & Engineering

Green initiatives in elevator design aren’t limited to which lights or materials are used for construction. Green elevator design is a holistic approach that begins in the earliest stages of design planning.

Conceptual Design

A sustainable elevator design begins with a robust concept. Premier Elevator Cabs uses detailed 2D and 3D renderings to visualize design drafts before work begins. These give building owners clear insights into how the lift’s interior elements support the overall aesthetic and the functionality of the space. This process hammers out issues early in production and allows designers to implement finalized plans at speed.

Material Selection and Customization

Just like with new resources, recycled and repurposed materials can be customized to suit any type of interior elevator design. Don’t let the fact that materials are repurposed fool you. Each material procured is treated and finished to create a like-new finish, and all materials remain in full compliance with Northern Virginia building safety standards.

Architectural Integration

For the most comprehensive approach to energy reduction, elevator cabs should be incorporated into a building’s architectural design. To get it right, Premier Elevator Cabs teams up with architects and designers to make sure that all designs adhere to the building’s style and safety requirements.

When done well, this integration boosts the building’s energy efficiency because it improves the elevator’s performance and cuts down on wasted energy through systems like regenerative drives. Plus, it aligns the elevator system with the building’s sustainability goals; it supports LEED certification and showcases a commitment to eco-friendly building practices.

Safety Compliance

While not related to green technology proper, note that any design or green retrofits should adhere to local safety standards. Be sure to maintain compliance with Virginia construction codes and industry standards like the National Electric Code. Work with a contractor in Northern Virginia who can outline these considerations and be sure that your particular project is safe and compliant.

Ceiling Design Options

The lift ceiling is another area where sustainable design comes into play. Aside from being an essential design element for interior aesthetics, ceiling design choices play a notable role in the push for sustainable construction.

For instance, aluminum grid ceilings are a popular, cost-effective choice because aluminum is highly recyclable, has a long life, and it minimizes construction waste. These choices aren’t only a matter of sustainability; the right material selection can impact occupants’ health. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns of the danger of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are emitted from many types of plastics and building materials. Even worse, these harmful gasses tend to concentrate in indoor areas, which poses health hazards for building occupants.

While ceiling design is only one aspect of lift design, all aspects of the construction should be considered with respect to material choice and sustainability.

Cladding, Wall Designs & Handrails

Cladding, walls, and handrails have many of the same material needs as elevator ceilings and flooring, but with the additional need for rugged durability in the face of wear and tear.

For these instances, sustainability must be balanced with high quality, last a long time, and be easy to maintain. In the long run, this reduces the need for frequent parts replacement or repair, which reduces the elevator’s environmental footprint.

Generally, sustainable production practices apply to all aspects of lift design, whether they’re for cladding, ceilings, handrails, or other accouterments. Make sure the elevator design company you choose can make these goals a priority while it maintains compliance with relevant accessibility standards—such as those from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) that specify, among other regulations, the need to install accessibility features like handrails at the correct height.

Smart Technology Integration

One of the most exciting advancements in green elevator design is the incorporation of smart control technologies that give operators more insight into elevator operations. Doing so can produce a number of interesting advantages to both energy reduction and sustainability overall.

IoT in Elevators

The integration of Internet of Things (IoT) technology into elevator systems represents a major leap forward in sustainability. IoT-enabled elevators are equipped with sensors and connected devices that allow for predictive maintenance, real-time monitoring, and continuous data collection on the status and performance of elevators. This technology can:

  • Optimize energy consumption with real-time adjustments to elevator energy output
  • Identify maintenance concerns and operational issues early
  • Bring visibility to performance and get more information on consumer usage habits

Across the board, smart technologies make elevators more reliable and less prone to failures, and they boost alignment with broader sustainability objectives.

Energy Monitoring Systems

Modern energy monitoring systems can proactively identify patterns in elevator usage and optimize energy output to balance functionality with energy reduction. For example, a smart elevator monitoring system can track which times of day are considered low- or high-usage and apply tactics (like energy recapture from regenerative drives) to support elevator operations. This reduces total energy use, and it gives operators better visibility into lift usage patterns.

Automated Control Systems

Along the same lines, automated control systems have revolutionized the way elevators operate, bringing a different dimension to elevator efficiency. While automated control systems for lifts are nothing new, technology is improving to boost their efficacy and bring more benefits to users.

For example, systems use algorithms to automatically schedule and route elevator trips to minimize user wait time. These tools are adaptable to different types of lifts and different building layouts and offer unique transportation timing for each use. This type of demand matching improves elevator efficiency, reduces energy expenditure, and creates a better experience for users across the board.

Future Trends in Sustainable Elevator Design

Sustainable technology is a hot topic these days, and new solutions emerge every year. We’re excited to see how the industry will continue to unfold and commit to new solutions that further simplify sustainability. Some of the notable trends we see include:

  • Solar-Powered Elevators: Elevators are now being built with solar integration that reduces reliance on conventional power grids.
  • Advanced Motor Design: Options like Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motors (PMSM) are a high-efficiency alternative to traditional induction motors because they offer more precise control of lift movement with less energy output.
  • Aerodynamic Design: Even something as simple as elevator shape affects energy expenditures, which is why architects are looking at ways to build elevators that minimize air resistance during movement.

Whether you’re looking for an upgrade to your existing elevator cab design, retrofits for energy-efficiency, or any other elevator design need, Premier Elevator Cabs can help. Fill out our easy contact form and get a free quote for your next project.