A new study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has found that the use of more energy-efficient elevators could dramatically reduce building operating costs. However, according to a news report, the study also found that the information necessary to help building owners identify the appropriate elevator system for their building along with the savings associated with it, is not readily available. This may result in building owners installing expensive, energy-hogging systems.

Reports suggest that elevators and escalators account for about 2-5% of the total power consumption in most buildings. It is estimated that during peak operational times, this figure can go up to as high as 50%. For instance, if they make up 5% of a building’s electricity, the yearly consumption of elevators in the U.S. would be equal to 5 times of that used in Washington D.C.

According to the study, current lift technology can reduce the total energy consumption by 40% or more. This can be done by minimizing power use between trips or when the device is not in use. Lights and cab ventilation systems can be turned off when improve operational efficiency. Destination dispatch software can help reduce passenger wait times, while using only about half of the energy that would be required to operate conventional systems.

There are some technologies that can reduce energy use by about 75%. However, there is no standard way to assess power savings or a rating system to differentiate more efficient devices. Hence, building owners may be unaware about the benefits associated of upgrading to energy saving accessibility equipment or installing such devices in new buildings under construction.

The study highlights the need to create or set common standards like the Environmental Protection Agency’s “ENERGY STAR ratings” to assess elevator efficiency. Clear standards for to evaluate elevator efficiency would help to reduce operating costs and highlight the environmental attributes of a building. Proper standards would also encourage government agencies to offer rebates for efficient models. Creating building label programs such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program could include device efficiency as a key factor in issuing building certification.

The lead author said that improved visibility when it comes to elevator efficiency can help customers grasp the full value package of better controls, improved performance, reduced sound, and increased comfort.