Take the stairs and save energy

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Take the stairs and save energy

The global environmental director of one of the largest elevator companies in the world likes to take the stairs.

By Staff Reporter

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Published: Sun 29 Sep 2013, 10:47 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 7:43 PM

Hanna Uusitalo, the environmental director for Kone, was in Dubai for several days recently.

Given that Uusitalo is a liaison delegate in World Business Council for Sustainable Development, a representative for the Finnish-based Kone in the European Roundtable for Industrialists (Energy and Climate) as well as the Kone representative in the Finnish Green Building Council, you could say she knows a thing or two about the industry and the challenges faced by buildings and construction companies in trying to keep pace with the rate people move around today.

There is cause for concern, given the ever-increasing number of people in high rise living in the UAE. There needed to be measures in place to reduce energy consumption in these buildings, she said. Every day 200,000 people move into or are born in urban areas — an astonishing statistic with implications for the future.

“Buildings account for 40 per cent of the world’s energy consumption,” said Uusitalo, “and elevators and escalators account for 2 to 10 per cent of a building’s energy consumption, there is a huge potential for energy savings by selecting the right type of elevator, escalator or automatic building door.” What Kone are looking at is to improve the environmental impact of buildings that then help counter climate change.

According to her, there is much to be done in the UAE.

“I’m not happy with what I’m seeing,” she said with a shake of her head. “In terms of energy, each escalator in Dubai equals 10 elevators. There are no energy saving requirements for existing buildings — even though there are great initiatives for new ones, and it’s good that Pearl ratings for buildings are taken seriously.”

She gives Dubai a 9/10 rating for safety of elevators but a six when it comes to energy conservation. Certain malls are cited as examples of upward going escalators constantly moving when there should ideally be a standby mode. “We have great opportunities here in this region.”

It’s appalling for Uusitalo that there is such a dearth of high quality installation of elevators — which in a lay person’s language is the squeaky sound you hear when you’re on an escalator, or elevator or even an auto walk (seen in metro stations, malls and airports).

There is scope for growth seems to be the key, but there is a need to pay attention to the green impact of the choices made while constructing buildings. LED lights, for instance are 80 per cent more energy efficient than halogen lights and are the simplest one-step in the direction of energy conservation, as also 10 per cent more long lasting.

What gets really exciting is when the ‘view for the future’ talk is given. Uusitalo said she foresaw a time when elevators and escalators will conserve more energy than consume it and there would come a time when elevators would be equipped with personality-detection software, which basically meant “the machine that carries you up and brings you down, will be able to tell who you are, what you like, and what your boss expects of you that day”. But that’s all in the future.-nivriti@khaleejtimes.com

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