The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has been on an energy conservation drive for many years. In fact, as experts point out, the success if the city’s plan to preserve and modernize its public housing system will depend on better energy management. The goal is also to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by pioneering energy retrofit technologies and implementing them widely.
Buildings require large amounts of energy for lighting, heating, hot water and running elevators. About 3-7% of a building’s energy consumption is accounted for by the elevator and so this piece of accessibility equipment offers great potential for considerable cost and energy savings. Management of the energy efficiency of these systems is important and experts offer many tips on how this can be achieved.
Outdated elevator motors can be replaced with state-of-the art models. Older drives such as motor generator sets can be high energy consumers as they are continuously running, leading to inefficiency and waste of energy. Likewise, the motors of hydraulic elevators consume a lot of energy compared to the 6-8 HP motor that characterizes an advanced machine room-less (MRL) elevator. Even with hydraulics, there are new models that are specially designed to cut down on the floor-to-floor time.
Recent advancements in motors, drives and control software can bring about energy savings of up to 75 percent, and can also eliminate toxic materials and ensure a smoother and quieter ride. For instance, Savaria offers energy efficient elevators that can meet high sustainability requirements.
In direct current (DC) elevators, the building’s electricity is converted to direct current (DC) and then sent to the elevators. Conversion of alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC) power leads to efficiency losses. However, alternating current elevator motors are driven directly by the electrical power in the building and are more efficient since there is no need for electricity conversion.
New AC motors can be operated using variable voltages and frequencies and can adapt to different loading conditions and minimize energy use. Gearless systems can be set up on top of the hoistway saving valuable building space.
Lighting in an elevator is a big energy consumer and replacing the older lighting system with a more energy-efficient version is a great option.
Modernization can be expensive and several factors such as the number of elevators and floors, traffic requirements, fixtures, and building structure will all go to determine the cost. Ultimately, the goal should be to implement innovations that can significantly save power without compromising performance, design, safety or comfort.