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Sustainable urban development

An estimated 200,000 people are moving to cities every day around the world, with 67% of the global population expected to be city dwellers by 2050. These numbers demonstrate that sustainable urban development is an absolute necessity. Here’s how KONE is doing its share to further the cause.

Cities around the world are witnessing a boom in the construction of new buildings and public infrastructure to create livingspaces for this increasing population. The demand, however, often outstrips the supply.

“We cannot look at only new buildings for all the new people in the cities. There are many older buildings that have years of life left in them. If they are modernized to use fewer resources, become more efficient and integrate more seamlessly with their environments, then they can go a long way in catering to the increasing populations of urban areas,” says Hanna Uusitalo, Environmental Director at KONE.

Market research studies bolster Uusitalo’s argument and point to a robust market for the modernization of existing buildings.

Modernization to extend equipment life

The European Commission-supported Energy Efficiency of Elevators and Escalators study, for instance, found that energy savings of up to 63% (amounting to 11.6 TWh) could be achieved in Europe by modernizing elevators installed in 1985 or earlier.

The need for modernization is more pronounced in the global market. A Research and Markets study estimates that the Global Elevators Modernization Market is poised to grow around 5.4% over the next decade to reach approximately $13.92 billion by 2025. A large part of this will involve modernizing existing equipment which in turn can boost efficiency across the board.

A new lease of life

An excellent example is China Plaza 66, which KONE helped to refurbish. Completed in 2001, the office building and shopping mall complex is one of the most iconic properties in Shanghai. However, the passage of time was taking its toll and some of the facilities of the property appeared dated, especially when compared to the newer and more modern office buildings coming up all around. This is what led its developers to decide to modernize the property and turn to KONE for a solution.

The KONE team, drawn from across the company’s global operations, decided to focus on modernizing the elevator system to reduce operational costs and improve people flow – a feat made all the more challenging by the fact that this was a fully operational building. “Renovating an office building is not difficult for us if the building is not in operation,” explains David Ho, Senior Manager of Project Construction at China Plaza 66. “The challenge lies in renovating the building while all the tenants continue their business as usual and there’s no more space to add new equipment.”

The KONE team started by surveying the existing equipment and gathering mechanical and electrical information on them. Then, KONE applied a design aesthetics-based solution, giving the buildings a contemporary look and feel while enhancing user experience. “All this, including the subsequent construction work, was done at night so as to not disturb the tenants,” emphasizes Lu Tian, Project Manager, KONE. “Our solution was designed to shorten the construction period and fit perfectly with the existing design aesthetics of the property.”

While this kept disturbance to tenants and users to a minimum, KONE also used its proprietary technologies to address other challenges, namely increasing energy efficiency and improving people flow. For instance, KONE’s ReGenerate800 solution provided greater reliability and safety as compared with the older elevators, while recovering up to 30% of the energy consumed. Additionally, KONE’s destination control systems were installed, shortening waiting times, reducing the number of intermediate stops, and increasing handling capacity.

Throughout the process, KONE worked closely with the property owners, using numerous models and prototypes, to ensure the solutions they had provided worked seamlessly with existing facilities. And the results are clear to see. “The people flow was acceptable during modernization, as both old and new elevators were easy to access,” says Ho. “The passengers feel that the new elevators are quicker than before, as the whole process has become more efficient.”

KONE’s modernization of China Plaza 66 had immediate and tangible results. “We have reduced operational costs, increased rental value for the owners and enhanced user safety and comfort, with minimal disruption to tenants and users,” concludes Tian, confidently.

“This is a very good thing”

The share of modernization packages in KONE’s portfolio is increasing rapidly, with 14% of total sales coming from modernization deals in 2016.

KONE continues to introduce innovative new modernization solutions to the market, such as the KONE HydroMod™ 200 modernization solution for hydraulic elevators, and the KONE EcoMod™ solution that enables escalator modernization without removing the truss, saving construction time and material.

“Why tear down a building that has years of life left in it and build something else there? Like with China Plaza 66, we certainly have the ability to increase the efficiency of a building and make it use fewer resources and create less of an impact on its environment. This is a very good thing,” concludes Uusitalo.

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