Elevator industry invests in energy efficiency in U.S.

Machine-room-less (MRL) elevator sales in the U.S. are continuing to grow, according to IMS Research, though its continued growth depends on the demand for hydraulic elevators, which remains the dominant force in the industry.


Sales of machine-room-less (MRL) elevators in the Americas exceed hydraulic elevators by over $160 million in 2012 with revenues of $1.4 billion, according to a recent study published by IMS Research (now part of IHS Inc.), titled The World Market for Elevators and Escalators

“MRL is just now surpassing hydraulic as the primary elevator mechanism in the Americas for a couple of reasons,” states Adi Pavlovic, report author and IHS analyst. “Once thwarted by strict legislative guidelines and poor end-user education, MRL is beginning to play catch up on the global market estimated to be worth $18.7 billion in 2012.” 

Growth for MRL elevators would be faster if not for a sizeable portion of the industry still considering hydraulic elevators as being a more cost effective solution for low- to mid-rise applications. 

Despite a higher average selling price, often more than double the price of hydraulic, MRL not only offers 50 to 75 percent more energy efficiency but also removes the need to construct a machine room. This trend alone has attracted a new breed of building owners looking to invest in energy efficient building solutions such as lighting, insulation and elevators to keep energy costs down. Conserving energy consumption in these elements is also considered when assessing a building’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification which allows approved buildings to qualify for tax rebates and zoning allowances. The trend to build more energy efficient LEED accredited buildings is another key driver for MRL elevators. 

One of the global market leaders and pioneers of MRL technology, KONE, discontinued production of its hydraulic product line in 2007 as a commitment to become more environmental friendly. “Manufacturers are realizing the shrinking opportunity for hydraulic products,” comments Pavlovic. “Whether other suppliers follow suit and discontinue production of hydraulic elevators remains to be seen. Despite the decline, a market for hydraulic elevators still exists in the Americas for low-rise, low-cost applications. However, its long-term survival remains in doubt as the intelligent building moves center stage.”

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