Sustainable Technology in Vertical Transportation Engineering

At J.V.Tierney Engineering Consultants Ireland, we are committed to using sustainable design in electrical and mechanical engineering aspects of modern building construction. Using modern methods like building information modelling, we strive for buildings that are largely self-sustaining. Today we look at the paradigm of vertical transportation and the considerations that need to be made by mechanical and electrical engineers.

From a design perspective, M&E engineers considering vertical transportation within buildings have always been restricted to two main types of elevator. There is the traction form that uses cables and the hydraulic version that uses pistons and both have been in use for more than 100 years.

Brute Force
Hydraulic elevators are the most costly in terms of energy, as their design requires the pump and motor to lift the entire weight of the car and those inside with sheer brute strength. Conversely, traction elevators are 2 or 3 times more energy efficient, due to the fact that the design uses a counterweight to offset this load.

In recent times, with the advancement of technology, the gap in energy efficiency between the two designs has considerably widened. More efficient controls and motors have rendered the hydraulic lift a difficult choice when designers are selecting the best vertical transportation option for building projects.

Lower Financial
Both hydraulic and traction elevators have evolved incrementally since their invention in the 19th century and, but it was the hydraulic variety that became popular after the 2nd World War in buildings up to 100 feet, such as hotels and offices. This was due to their relatively low cost when compared to traction lifts.

Latest Technology
Elevators without a recognized ‘machine room’ featuring gearless traction have proved popular in recent years, some of which use a magnet synchronous drive. Other advances have seen the emergence of regenerative drives that actually capture potential energy stored from passenger weight and from the friction and heat created during the lifting process.

Other aspects of energy usage have improved with LED lighting systems and digital dispatch systems, all of which must be taken into account when deciding of the most appropriate system for your needs.

The drive to optimize the energy usage of commercial buildings in the modern day will continue to push the boundaries of vertical transportation over the coming years.

Destination Control
Destination control is not a new concept. However, previously it was difficult to optimize the performance as the control logic of elevators was implemented in relays. Now that it is possible to control elevators with microprocessors, we can optimize the technique used for multi-elevator installations. This groups passengers for the same destinations into the same elevators, thereby reducing waiting and travel times.

Unlike conventional elevator control systems which only register the desired travel direction, Destination Control has improved how buildings control elevators and optimized passenger mobility to achieve maximum energy efficiency.

If you would like to know more about sustainable design and how it can be used to significantly reduce running costs, then visit us at or have a chat with one of our knowledgeable team on 01 421 4900.