Next Generation Machine-Roomless Elevators

Design Freedom, Green Technology
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Sponsored by Otis Elevator Company

Learning Objectives:

  1. Explain how the latest machine-roomless technology saves on construction and operational costs.
  2. Discuss five elements that can increase the energy-saving potential of MRL elevators.
  3. Discuss why the new MRL technology is more energy-efficient than conventional products.
  4. Identify where MRL technology can contribute to LEED points.


1 GBCI CE Hour
This test is no longer available for credit

Vertical transportation, which has been part of the building environment since the 1850s, has recently seen some significant advancements. One of the most recent, introduced in the 1990s, is machine-roomless (MRL) technology, named for its ability to dispense with the traditional elevator machine room. Based on the first major breakthrough in lifting technology in nearly 100 years, MRL technology continues to evolve, offering even greater design freedom for architects, revenue-producing building space, and savings in construction and operational costs.

As owners increasingly demand energy savings, lower carbon footprints, and U.S. Green Building Council LEED certifications, architects should understand how MRLs can contribute to those goals as well. This article will explain the latest advances in MRLs, their advantages over conventional elevators, and highlight the features that make for the greenest MRLs. Escalators will also be discussed in terms of what elements architects should look for in specifying the most energy efficient systems.

The Latest Advances in Machine-Roomless Elevators

Historically, traction and hydraulic elevators required sizeable machine rooms to store large machines, motors, or hydraulic pumps. In the 1990s, advances in technology enabled gearless machine-roomless elevators, which employ a smaller sheave and a redesigned machine that could be mounted within the hoistway itself, eliminating the need for a bulky machine room on the roof. A smaller controller room could be positioned with some flexibility near the hoistway. However, hydraulic elevators still required a full-size machine room.


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Originally published in Architectural Record
Originally published in May 2012