Sometimes when we look at an application for an accessibility lift, there simply isn’t enough space. In other instances we have the ideal space but the desired location will not allow for the hoistway and corresponding load bearing wall. I recently ran into this situation for one of our clients. No matter where we looked we couldn’t find both space and have the design be aesthetically pleasing. After exploring all the traditional elevator and lift systems I remembered seeing a “no hoistway” lift at the national elevator show in Boston last September. I had ridden in their working display model and recalled the smooth ride, and how compact, and appealing it looked. This design abled us to place the lift exactly where the client wanted, without being an eyesore in their living room. The system works by dropping a piece of the floor in place when the lift travels to the lower level. There are pressure sensitive plates on both the top and bottom of the lift to ensure that no one is in danger when the device is in use. The major benefit for this client was when the device was not being used he could send it to the basement and maintain the sight lines through his living room.
When I think of making an environmentally sound decision, especially if it pertains to green elevators or a lift purchase, I can point out 3 contributing factors .
This seems pretty obvious but if you can purchase a locally manufactured elevator or lift, the transportation impact can be minimized. Buying local not only reduces emissions it saves you money on shipping costs associated with replacement parts.
#2 What impact could the drive mechanism have on the environment?
Devices that utilize large hydraulic pumps and reservoirs may need to have precautionary measures were taken, such as oil separators in the event of a hydraulic oil leak. This is to ensure that the oil cannot seep into the ground or water table. Some jurisdictions in the past have asked that food grade oil is used in order to alleviate this concern. Elevators and lifts that utilize a Traction Counter Weight or Screw Drive don’t actually pose this risk, as no hydraulic fluid is used. These greener solutions only require a 2″-3″ pit (or no pit at all) so there is less concern with disturbing ground water. You may even be able to save some money on your site preparation as hydraulic elevators can require anywhere from a 6″ to 60″ pit.
#3 What are the ongoing energy costs?
This cost is two fold; the energy consumed as it relates to the environment and the monetary cost directly to you. Do your research on how much energy your elevator or lift will require operating. Devices with a mechanical advantage such as a traction counterweight drive will be up to 50% more energy efficient that a comparative hydraulic unit. Hydraulic elevators have to pump fluid into a cylinder which is often located in a separate machine room.
It doesn’t matter if your goal is to consciously protect the environment or simply save some money (energy costs, site preparation , and maintenance), it’s apparent that the two can go hand in hand.