Energy-Efficient Elevators

Energy Efficient Elevators

Do Elevators Impact Building Energy Efficiency?


Do elevators impact building energy efficiency? In this post, we’ll analyze factors like elevator types and how they consume power to determine if elevators significantly affect a building’s overall energy usage.

By the end of the article, you’ll have a clear answer on whether elevators significantly affect a building’s efficiency. Let’s get started!

Understanding Elevator Energy Consumption


Types of Elevators:

There are three main types of elevators: traction, hydraulic, and machine-room-less (MRL). Traction elevators are generally the most energy-efficient, using most of their energy when starting and stopping. Hydraulic elevators use more power when moving upwards because they rely on a powerful pump to lift the car.

MRL elevators save energy because their machinery fits within the elevator shaft, eliminating the need for a separate engine room. Choosing the right type of elevator can impact your building’s energy use from the start.

How Elevators Use Energy

Elevators use energy in several ways:

  1. Moving people and goods:

This is the most obvious energy use, and it depends on how much weight the elevator carries and how often it travels up and down the building. Imagine carrying a heavy backpack up a flight of stairs – it takes more energy! Elevators work the same way.

  1. Operating doors and lighting:

Elevator doors open and close constantly, using motors each time. The lights inside the elevator car stay on for passenger safety and comfort. Even when the elevator isn’t moving between floors, these features are still using energy. It’s like leaving a light on in a room when you leave.

  1. Heating and cooling:

Elevator cabs often have their own heating and cooling systems to keep passengers comfortable. This is especially important in places with very hot or cold weather, as the elevator car can get stuffy or chilly quickly. These climate control systems use energy just like the ones that heat and cool your home or office.

Energy Consumption due to Heat Generation:

As elevators operate, their motors, brakes, and other machinery get hot. This heat can spread to the areas around the elevator, making the building warmer overall. Imagine running a treadmill indoors – it would make the room hotter!

The heat from the elevator has a similar effect. This extra heat makes your building’s air conditioning system work harder to maintain a comfortable temperature.

Energy Consumption due to Air leakage:

Elevator shafts can act like vertical tunnels for air movement within a building. This means that warm air can escape through the shaft in the winter, or cool air can escape in the summer. Unconditioned air from outside can also enter through the shaft.

This constant airflow makes it harder to keep your building at the right temperature, just like a leaky window makes it difficult to keep a room warm or cool.

The Elevator Energy Burden


Did you know elevators can use up to 10% of a building’s total energy? That number can be even higher for older buildings with outdated equipment. It might not seem like much, but over a year, this adds up to a lot of wasted energy and higher costs on your energy bill.

Imagine if 10% of your paycheck went towards something you barely thought about! That’s what older elevators can do to your building’s energy expenses.

Old-fashioned elevators are energy guzzlers. Their motors aren’t as efficient as modern ones, meaning they use much more electricity to do the same work. It’s like comparing an old lightbulb to a new LED one – the old one needs way more power to give you the same amount of light.

This inefficiency means older elevators constantly waste energy, even when they’re just sitting idle. Modern elevators have smarter technology that helps them use only the energy they need when they need it.

Strategies for Energy-Efficient Elevators


Modernization: Key Upgrades for Efficiency

Elevators, much like any other machinery, can become significantly more energy-efficient with the right upgrades. By integrating the latest technologies, elevators can transform into models of efficiency. These upgrades include:

  1. Regenerative Drives: 

Similar to the technology in hybrid vehicles, regenerative drives capture energy usually lost during braking or descending and convert it into electricity that the building can reuse. This process not only conserves energy but also reduces the overall carbon footprint of the building.

  1. LED Lighting: 

The switch to LED lighting in elevators is a simple yet effective upgrade. LEDs offer a remarkable reduction in energy use compared to traditional lighting options and have the added benefit of a much longer lifespan, thereby reducing waste and maintenance costs.

  1. Smart Control Systems:

By implementing smart controls, elevators can effectively ‘sleep’ when not in use, significantly cutting down on energy consumption. These systems are capable of detecting periods of low or no demand and adjusting the elevator’s energy use accordingly, ensuring that energy is not squandered.

Adding to these points, it’s crucial to acknowledge that modern technology not only enhances the energy efficiency of elevators but also improves their operational lifespan and reliability.

Traffic Management: Optimizing Elevator Trips

Efficient elevator traffic management is key to reducing a building’s energy usage. By intelligently scheduling trips, elevators can operate more efficiently by:

  1. Grouping Calls: 

This involves sophisticated algorithms that analyze and organize elevator calls by destination, streamlining the process to ensure maximum occupancy per trip. This approach significantly cuts down on the energy consumed during empty or near-empty trips.

  1. Destination Dispatch: 

More than a convenience feature, destination dispatch is a strategic approach to minimize wait times and energy consumption. By directing passengers to the elevator that offers the most direct route to their floor, buildings can achieve a higher level of efficiency and passenger satisfaction.

In addition to optimizing trips, these traffic management strategies contribute to a smoother operation, reducing wear and tear on the elevators and potentially extending their service life.

Maintenance: The Foundation of Efficiency

Consistent maintenance is the bedrock of efficiency for an energy-efficient elevator, ensuring that all components are in optimal condition for energy conservation:

  1. Lubrication: 

Regular lubrication is akin to maintaining optimal blood flow in the body; it ensures that all moving parts operate seamlessly with minimal resistance, thus conserving energy.

  1. Alignment: 

Ensuring that all parts of the elevator are properly aligned is crucial for preventing unnecessary strain on the system, which can lead to increased energy usage and potential breakdowns.

  1. Air Sealing: 

Proper sealing around elevator doors and shafts is essential for maintaining the building’s climate control efficiency. This not only saves energy but also enhances the comfort levels within the building.

It’s worth noting that regular maintenance extends beyond energy conservation. It plays a vital role in ensuring the safety and reliability of the elevator system, affecting everything from operational costs to user experience.

By focusing on these key areas—modernization, traffic management, and maintenance—buildings can significantly enhance the energy efficiency of their elevator systems.

These strategies not only contribute to a building’s sustainability goals but also offer a host of benefits, including reduced operational costs, improved safety, and a lower environmental impact.

Tangible Benefits of Energy-Efficient Elevators


  1. Cost Savings:

Energy-efficient elevators save you money! They use less electricity, which means a smaller energy bill each month. For example, a medium-sized office building might save thousands of dollars every year by switching to an energy-efficient elevator system.

Imagine what you could do with those extra savings – maybe invest in other building upgrades or give employees a bonus! Those cost savings add up over time, making a real difference to your bottom line.

  1. Environmental Impact:

Using less energy is great for the planet. Energy-efficient elevators help lower your building’s carbon footprint, which means cleaner air and a healthier environment. Think of your building as having a smaller impact on the world around it.

These elevators are a simple way to make a significant difference in the fight against climate change. Each year, these elevators prevent a lot of harmful pollution from being released into the atmosphere.

  1. Sustainability Certifications:

Want to make your building officially “green”? Energy-efficient elevators help you earn points in special programs like LEED or BREEAM. These programs recognize buildings that are designed to be environmentally friendly.

Earning this recognition can be a great way to show your commitment to sustainability and can even make your building more attractive to eco-conscious tenants or buyers. It shows the world that your building isn’t just a place to work or live, but a place that cares about the future.


In conclusion, yes, elevators impact building energy efficiency. Elevators can account for up to 10% of a building’s energy use due to moving passengers, operating doors/lights, climate control, heat generation, and air leakage.

By upgrading to modern, efficient elevator systems and optimizing traffic management, buildings can significantly reduce this energy burden. Implementing regenerative drives, LED lighting, smart controls, and proper maintenance leads to substantial cost savings, lower environmental impact, and sustainability certifications.

Elevator modernization is a smart investment for improved efficiency. Building owners interested in exploring modernization options should contact qualified elevator companies to learn more about upgrading their equipment for maximum efficiency and performance.