Smart Lifts

1) Sustainability Problem: Energy

Vertical transportation is a crucial element of city dwelling. More than 7 billion elevator rides occur every day in tall buildings around the world, and this number will only grow as the number of people living in cities increases. In the United States, elevators often operate with outdated technology and infrastructure and are not energy-efficient. Elevators account for 2-10% of a building’s energy use. Creating more energy-efficient methods of vertical transportation is a critical sustainability challenge. (

2) Article Title: “Energy-efficient vertical transportation with sensor information in smart green buildings”; Website Name: IOP Science; Link:

  • Indoor sensors can detect physical criteria in buildings such as temperature, humidity, motion, and light. Vertical transportation systems can implement this sensor technology to make elevators more energy-efficient. Sensors can detect elevator users before they push the call button and this information is sent to the elevator control system. This more rapid transmission of information helps the system control moving time and direction more efficiently. By reducing the distance of unnecessary travel, energy is saved.
  • The elevator control system named ESG (“Elevator control for Smart Green buildings”), presented by researchers from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea, makes use of this concept. Three types of sensor devices including RFID (radio-frequency identification), video, and floor sensors collect information about elevator users before they arrive at the stop and push the call button. A reservation call is generated for the user, and the moving time and moving direction of the elevators are controlled based on the compilation of all the reservation calls.
  • The ESG system has been shown to reduce energy consumption by 28-31%. It was also shown to reduce average waiting time by 15-30%, as minimizing wait time is another objective of elevator control systems.

3) Organizational Stakeholders:

Stakeholders involved in implementation of this technology could include:

  • Sustainability consultants looking for opportunities to earn points for a building’s LEED accreditation by making elevators more energy-efficient
  • Facilities management professionals looking to address complaints on long wait times
  • Facilities management professionals looking to heighten security in buildings that require it (banks, government buildings, private corporations, etc.) that could use the information collected from the RFID, video, and floor sensors for other reasons

4) Implementation Process

While the ESG system has been shown to produce measurable results in several experimental settings, its effectiveness must be ascertained in the target building. To make sure the system would be a good match, the target building should first conduct an evaluation of its current elevator usage. Customer surveys should be conducted to assess complaints (are long wait times a concern, like they are in most other settings?), energy usage by elevators should be calculated (what level of energy efficiency are the elevators currently at), etc.

A technology evaluation should be conducted for the different types of sensor devices. While the ESG system is meant to use RFID, video, and floor sensors, a very wide range of these devices are commercially available. The effectiveness and cost of the different options needs to be evaluated to determine which are best for the target building.

Complimenting the point made above, the budget for whoever is managing the target building upgrades needs to be assessed. Perhaps more complaints are being made about other aspects of the building and more money needs to be spent elsewhere, leaving less funding for elevator upgrades. Perhaps there is an opportunity to partner with some manufacturers of sensor technology by providing those manufacturers the opportunity to pilot their devices, lowering overall costs.


2 thoughts on “Smart Lifts

  1. Thank you for sharing! With 40% of energy consumption taken used by buildings, the 2-10% of the energy used by elevators is significant. To reduce that by approximately 30% would have significant energy reduction effects on all scales. The need for elevators and transport technology will continue to be necessary, especially as sustainability professionals advise building up and not out. Automating the critical infrastructure pieces to work with this recommendation seems like a crucial step.


  2. Very interesting post! From the article, additional insight can be observed with the concept of active floors. As an approach towards reducing unnecessary movement by people, the Elevator control for Smart Green buildings can be integrated with the active floor technology, which can also act as sensors similar to the ones embedded in the elevator technology. The active floor can send weight changes of about 50 grams to the location system, which can predict the future locations of people, and ultimately assist in saving energy.


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