A new study highlights the downside to flexible working practices such as hot-desking and flexitime, leading to an increase in elevator waiting times in office buildings
In addition to being a minor annoyance and modern occupational hazard, longer lift waiting times are also harmful for the environment. According to a new study, Smarter Buildings: Real-world energy use of lifts/elevators in contemporary office buildings, lifts in modern office buildings are burning as much as 36 per cent more energy than predicted.
New flexible working patterns, break-out spaces and a boom in hot-desking and internal meetings are driving the problem by creating many more inter-floor lift journeys in modern office buildings.
With commercial buildings accounting for 50 per cent of UK electricity use in the UK and lifts making up 8 per cent of office buildings’ energy use, the excess energy cost and associated carbon emissions is potentially enormous. Productivity is also being hit, with employees spending up to 15 minutes a day waiting for lifts in many multi-storey office buildings.
The new research was carried out by specialist lift consultants SVM Associates and the corporate wellness business StepJockey. The findings echo those of a recent government-funded study which found buildings were falling short of energy performance expectations, routinely causing 3.5 times the carbon emissions they should.
The study compared on-site measurements of lift energy consumption with predictions from international standards, which revealed the most commonly installed lift type – geared traction lifts – were the worst offenders. As expected, energy costs could be significantly lowered by promoting stair use.