Environmental Impact of Lifts

Ana-Maria Lorente Lafuente and José Luis Núñez Bruis

Thursday 25th September 2014

Lifts are active products, that is, they consume resources to fulfil their function. For this reason, their environmental impact will last their whole lifetime. In this type of product, the usage phase has traditionally been assumed to be the most relevant one from an environmental point of view. Unlike other products fulfilling the same transport function, lifts are inherently linked to the medium in which they are installed. Thus, they are tailored design to fit the needs of the population of the building where they will be operating. The fact that lifts are multi-user products conditions their performance and makes it difficult to estimate their usage, but the ISO 25745-2 current draft (for public comment) [1] provides with a quite accurate simplified method based on figures obtained from thousands of simulations. If the boundaries of the analysis are extended to cover its complete useful life down to its disposal, the results show that the usage phase is not necessarily the most relevant in all usage categories. In this paper, an overview of the distribution of the environmental impact of lifts is presented. The results are analysed to determine what the key factors are. Finally, indications on how to interpret the environmental data provided by a lift supplier are given to allow architects and lift consultants the selection of the most environmental friendly lifts during the building design phase.

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