Published: February 18, 2016


Elevators are estimated to account for up to five percent of a building’s annual energy use (Kamm, 2006). Choosing newer, commercially available efficient elevators can result in decades-long energy savings.

An elevator in a typical commercial building uses about 7,600 kWh per year (Kwatra, 2013), and in a typical office building it uses about 5,800 kWh per year (McKenney, 2010).

Traditionally, elevators have used hydraulic, geared traction or gearless traction systems depending on building height. Buildings with fewer than seven or eight floors have typically used hydraulic elevators and these represent 75 percent of installed elevators in the U.S. Medium rise buildings (with eight to 24 floors) have used geared traction, and buildings with more than 24 floors have used gearless traction (McKenney, 2010). Newer elevator designs feature more efficient gearless traction systems with regenerative drives and numerous other efficient components.

Kamm, K, Going Up? New Technologies Raise Elevator Efficiency, E Source, Report No. ER-06-2, January 2006.

Lichtman, F, One Step to Combat Obesity: Make Stairs More Attractive, NPR News, August 5, 2014,

Otis, 2014, Gen2: All you need is a hoistway, Otis Elevator Company,

Sachs, 2005, Opportunities for Elevator Energy Efficiency Improvements, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Washington DC, April 2005,