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Helping promote more eco-aware cities

KONE offers industry-leading elevators and escalators, together with innovative modernisation and maintenance solutions – all aimed at helping move people where they need to go more efficiently and more sustainably.

KONE Corporation

Half of the world's population will be living in cities and other urban areas by the end of this year. In fact, there are already more than 20 'megacities' with a population of more than 10 million inhabitants. As the size of our cities increases, overcrowding and environmental problems often follow. 

Transportation and mobility are common bottle­necks that reduce people's quality of life and the efficiency of urban infrastructure. Which is one of the reasons that KONE's focus is on innovative solutions to make it easier for people to move around buildings – what the company describes as People Flow™ – while also reducing the overall environmental impact of buildings. 

KONE is developing a growing flow of innovative solutions to enhance what it describes as the People Flow™ of buildings, while reducing their environmental footprint.

Building in better performance

The optimum point for focusing these efforts is when systems and buildings are being developed and planned. 

Solutions such as KONE's Destination Control System, where passengers choose their destination floor before entering an elevator, can save energy significantly by increasing a building's people-handling capacity and cutting the number of trips each elevator has to make.

As life-cycle assessments confirm that the majority of an elevator's environmental impact is generated during its use, reducing a system's energy needs, maintenance requirement, noise level, and other operational factors during the product design phase is critical. Inverter drives and energy recovery systems have a lot to offer here, and KONE has pioneered their use in elevators. Innovative solutions like these can reduce total energy usage by up to 25%, allowing the energy saved to be used for other needs, such as lighting.

Real savings

LED lights reduce the energy ­consumption of an elevator during normal usage and when it is in 
standby mode.

The KONE EcoDisc® motor is perhaps the best example of what can be achieved by this kind of approach. Powering the KONE MonoSpace® elevator family (known as KONE EcoSpace® in North America), this enables MonoSpace® units to use half the energy of a conventional traction elevator and a third of that needed by a hydraulic elevator. 

Since its launch in 1998, KONE has delivered over 200,000 machine-room-less KONE MonoSpace® elevators, and the concept has saved, in cumulative terms, energy equivalent to the output of a typical 250 MWe power plant, or 2,000,000 barrels of oil, or the CO2 emissions of 100,000 cars driving around the equator.

Moving forward, KONE is developing new elevator technology that will push the envelope even further in terms of energy efficiency. The target is to reach a 50% improvement in this area by 2010.

Reducing standby energy usage

Like all equipment, an elevator continues to use energy even when idle. This standby energy is mostly consumed by car lights, control devices, ventilation equipment, elevator drives, and control systems; and can account for 25-80% of the total energy used by an elevator, depending on its design and usage. 

To address this challenge, KONE has developed a number of ways to save standby energy: 

  • Car lights and car fans are switched off automatically after the last car call, and only come on again the next time the car is called.

  • LED lights reduce the amount of energy used in car lighting by up to 80% and last up to 10 times longer than halogen lights. 

  • Signals switch to standby mode automatically a few minutes after the last car call, reducing signalization-related energy usage by up to 80%. 

  • Corridor illumination control systems turn on lighting automatically when a car reaches a floor, helping reduce a building's overall electricity consumption.


Prioritising innovation

Innovation has long been a key priority for KONE, whether it comes to optimising total lifetime costs, achieving significant energy savings, or delivering more sustainable solutions. Innovative maintenance and modernisation concepts have also been developed. Examples of this impressive track-record include:

  • 1996 Invention of the machine-room-less elevator using KONE EcoDisc™ technology

  • 2004 Invention of counterweight-less elevators: KONE MaxiSpace™

  • 2005 First double-deck elevator featuring KONE's Destination Control System

  • 2006 Launch of the world's first autowalk that can be installed on existing floors without a pit: KONE Innotrack™
> Simon Barrette

(Published in HighTech Finland 2009)