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December 21, 2018

Lifts and the Eco-design Directive: Second phase and Updates

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Lifts and the Eco-design Directive: Second phase and updates

The Directive 2009/125/EC on the eco-design requirements for energy-related products, better known as the Eco-design Directive, is intended to help the EU reach its goals in terms of energy efficiency, energy consumption, and environmental impact. In March 2018, SBS published an article on this same subject. It set out the likely implications for lifts of legislation stemming from the Eco-design directive. The information provided at that time also included the work of the 1st Eco-design Lifts Stakeholder Meeting which took place on February 21st 2018 in Brussels in the premises of the EC DG GROW. This meeting was organised in the framework of a preparatory study launched by the European Commission to find the most appropriate ways to reach its environmental policy objectives i.e. the so-called 20 - 20 - 20 climate & energy package objectives. During the first meeting, the Consortium team presented the first three tasks of the study, widely commented in the previous SBS article, and asked for comments. Afterwards, the team collected the feedback of the stakeholders, as a contribution for the preparation of the second phase of the preparatory study. The results were then presented and discussed during the 2nd Eco-design Lifts Stakeholder Meeting that took place on 17 September 2018. On that occasion, the Consortium team presented a further set of four tasks with some specific draft proposals for the evaluation of the energy consumption and environmental impact of possible “Base Case type of lifts”, in view of identifying the “most suitable best practices” to be proposed as reference benchmarks. Most stakeholders did not share those proposals and this led to the need to review the proposed procedures and seek more detailed information on both the foreseeable lift replacement trend and future construction market trends. These further information would help to better match the likely development of the lift products and the forecast of expected improvement of the energy consumption and environmental impact of lifts in the years to come. The major disagreements related to the following aspects:
  1. The focus on energy consumption aspects:  A previous project, the E4 Project was the first attempt to evaluate the average energy consumption of the lifts operating in the market. The current study has now to consider the market conditions of the lifts currently available, which, from the point of view of energy consumption, are more efficient than those taken into account at the time of the E4 project. In addition, the evaluation of the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) - for lifts installed in midrange residential buildings with low to medium level of traffic and which representan important share of the segment of buildings that the energy consumption of those lifts does not affect significantly the final results of their LCA. In fact, in that segment of buildings, that are a typical market for the lift SMEs, the traffic is moderate and the energy consumption of the lift is mainly due to the stand-by state. The energy consumption can be significantly reduced simply by acting on the lighting system, an often economically viable and easy practice.
  2. The 5% lift replacement rate per year: the European average rate of replacement is of 2%.
  3. The proposal to limit the useful lifetime of lifts to 20 years is unrealistic: the current lifetime of lifts substantially exceeds 40 years because of,
    • the average longevity of buildings, especially residential buildings, in which lifts are installed;
    • the great discomfort for the people living in the building  caused by the enormous and lengthy work needed to replace existing lifts while the building is still inhabited;
    • the high cost of replacing lifts which , in most cases, cannot be recovered, within a reasonable time, if the decision to replace a lift is based only on energy consumption reduction exemptions.
    • the need to take into account the circular economy. This requires that any product, especially the energy-related products, should be designed and manufactured, as far as possible, to last longer and to be more easily repairable, so as to increase the lifetime of the product.
During the meeting, participants highlighted the need for any additional burden to be kept to a minimum, especially for SMEs, and that the burdens should be proportionate to the impact on the market of the company. At the closing of the meeting, DG Grow representative, Mr.  Cesar Santos, suggested that stakeholders start considering the possible alternative option of looking for a largely shared set of requirements as a voluntary proposal of self-regulation for lifts. These requirements to be agreed by the utmost part of the stakeholders, might be jointly submitted to the European Commission as a set of viable “fully agreed upon Voluntary Self-regulation”. This could still lead to the achievement of the objectives according to the EU Goals in term of improved environmental impact for thefuture. The Consortium team is currently going on with his works on this topic, in view of the third stakeholders’ meeting, planned to take place on 11 of March 2019, after which some more updated information will be made available.  

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