Hard work and reliance on hard facts take KONE to the front of the race towards sustainability.
Elevators can play a surprisingly large role in the energy efficiency of a building. According to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, buildings account for 40 percent of the world’s total energy consumption. Elevators and escalators currently account for anything from two to ten percent of a building’s energy consumption.
As the overall efficiency of buildings improves, the percentage of energy consumption from elevators is beginning to bear even more weight. It’s crucial for elevator technology to stay abreast of the latest developments in energy efficiency. And simply keeping pace has never been on the agenda at KONE; the aim has been for something much higher.
A competitive edgeEco-efficiency is the ability to create more while using fewer resources and buildings account for 40 percent of the world’s total energy consumption 40 creating less waste and pollution. The elevator and escalator industry can do its part in combating climate change by helping reduce the energy consumption of buildings.
For KONE, sustainability is a major differentiating factor, and energy efficiency provides a real competitive edge. Environmental Excellence is a key strategy that impacts all aspects of KONE’s operations.
“Eco-efficiency is not just an opportunity to differentiate. It is part of our corporate responsibility, and it goes hand-in-hand with social responsibility, which is a priority for KONE,” says Timo Pakarinen, vice president at KONE.
“Eco-efficiency at KONE is up to everyone in the company. We walk the talk and do what we promise.”
Unrelenting innovativeness and longterm thinking has helped KONE become an industry leader, paving the way towards better use and management of natural resources.
“Eco-efficiency leadership is not something you just take into the market,” emphasizes Pakarinen. “You have to earn it with real facts, real innovations, and concrete results like our VDI A-class certification.”
Cuts that countThere are many ways an elevator impacts the environment. From obtaining raw materials to manufacturing, transport and installation, each stage in an elevator’s life cycle leaves a mark. However, the biggest mark by far comes from its day-to-day use. Of the total CO2 emissions from an elevator in a low rise building, over 70 percent comes from actual usage.
Cutting energy consumption of elevators during usage was therefore an obvious priority to KONE. In 2008, the company set an ambitious goal: to reduce energy consumption of all new volume elevators by 50 percent in four years compared to its 2006 volume offering.
Thanks to systemic, consequential application of eco-efficient solutions, KONE announced in November of 2010 that it had reached this target. Today, KONE’s European volume elevators consume 60 percent less energy, with Asian and US volume elevators coming in at 50 and 40 percent, respectively.
Smooth liftingHoisting is one of the major factors contributing to the energy consumption of elevators. Traditional motors and lifting mechanisms were energy-hungry obstacles for eco-efficiency. The introduction of the KONE EcoDisc® in 1996 made these traditional solutions obsolete.
The KONE EcoDisc® is a complete, gearless hoisting unit. With only one moving part and no oil, it weighs less than half of conventional geared traction motors. The underlying technology wasn’t new – synchronous axial motors were commonly used in robotics and industrial automation – but applying this technology to elevators and dramatically reducing both mechanical and electrical energy consumption was. Not only does the KONE EcoDisc cut down on energy use by up to 70 percent over conventional motors, but the simplified mechanics and slower movement of internal parts means the KONE EcoDisc also has a significantly longer life expectancy.
Tapping potentialThe vertical movement of elevators both consumes energy and presents a source of potential energy. When a car descends with a heavy load or ascends with a light load, excess energy is usually lost during braking.
In the early 1990s, KONE introduced the regenerative drive, a technology that can recover up to 35 percent of an elevator’s total energy consumption. First used in high-speed elevators in high-rise buildings, this technology was later made available to low-and mid-rise buildings as well.
KONE’s regenerative drives allow potential energy to be recovered and thus improve the eco-efficiency of the company’s elevators. Much like modern electric and hybrid vehicles that use braking energy to recharge their batteries, the regenerative drive harnesses extra braking energy during elevator use. The recovered energy can be fed into the building’s power network and used elsewhere.
Smart energy useNew KONE elevators can also make use of environmental advances made in other industries. Conventional halogen lights have been replaced with LED lights that use up to 80 percent less energy. The LED lights also have the added benefit of a much longer lifespan – as much as ten times longer.
Advances in power management also help optimize energy consumption. Car lights, displays and air conditioning fans are turned off when the elevator car is not in use and turned on again when passengers arrive. The power level of drives can also be set to a low-energy ‘sleep’ mode when the elevator is idle.
Staying aheadCombining all the aforementioned technologies has allowed KONE to cut the energy use of volume elevators by 50 percent. But getting to the front of the pack is only the first hurdle. Staying there requires continued, concentrated efforts from everyone at KONE to push barriers and find new innovations for improving eco-efficiency.
Consider the thousands upon thousands of old elevators. As much as 90 percent of all building stock already exists, presenting a major opportunity for KONE’s modernization solutions that can bring energy savings of 50–70 percent.
“We must focus on further developing the eco-efficiency of our solutions as we continue to modernize existing elevators and escalators,” says Pakarinen. “In addition, we continue to reduce the environmental impacts of our own operations.
“Voluntary sustainability ratings for products and solutions are becoming common and are increasingly required by customers. Green Building certifications, for example, are putting tougher requirements on all aspects of the building.”
Beyond technological developments, KONE actively invests in its operations; this includes implementing smarter manufacturing techniques using LEAN and Six Sigma practices. Water and waste management is also being improved to reduce overall consumption.
Eco-efficient delivery and packaging, an efficient car fleet, and an increased use of virtual meeting tools to avoid unnecessary travel are just a few more examples of the many ways KONE strives towards its strategic goal of Environment Excellence.
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What is People Flow®?
People Flow means people moving smoothly, safely, comfortably, and without waiting in and between buildings.
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