The Voice of the Lift, Escalator and Moving Walk Industry in Europe


By Massimo Beccarini, Chair of the Energy and Environment Committee at the European Lift Association

Global commitments and actions to avert the worst effects of climate change are growing, but they still fall far short of the target to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The European Commission has stated that the European building sector is the largest single energy consumer in the EU, responsible for approximately 40 percent of energy consumption and 36 percent of CO2 emissions in the EU. It is estimated that lifts consume between two and five percent of the energy consumption of buildings. The lift industry can therefore contribute towards decarbonizing the built environment by providing energy efficient solutions, and reducing the carbon emitted during the production of materials.

Net zero and the impact of the building sector

Net zero is another term for carbon neutrality; i.e. when the balance between the total amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere is equal. The EC has set a long-term goal of becoming climate neutral by 2050[1], in line with global commitments to secure global net zero by mid-century and keep the goal of 1.5 degrees within reach[2].

The EC has set various initiatives and schemes in place to help achieve this difficult task. These include the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF)[3], the European Green Deal[4] and the new Social Climate Fund[5]

The building sector is the largest single energy consumer in Europe[6]. Around 75 percent of current building stock in the EU is deemed energy inefficient, meaning that a large proportion of the energy used goes to waste. Smart solutions and energy efficient materials are needed not only for new buildings, but also for the renovation of existing buildings, which could reduce the EU’s total energy consumption by five to six percent and lower carbon dioxide emissions by about five percent. Yet, on average, less than one percent of the national building stock is renovated each year. In order to meet the EU climate and energy objectives, the current rates of renovations should at least double.

Decarbonizing these buildings in time to reach the 2050 target remains an enormous challenge, especially considering that of the buildings expected to still exist 30 years from now, an estimated 97 percent will need to be renovated to make them carbon neutral.

Renovation is key for reducing the energy consumption of buildings, for bringing down emissions and for reducing energy bills. In addition, renovation generates local jobs and economic growth, making the EU more resilient after the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

How lifts can contribute towards net zero

Older lifts can consume as much as 10 percent of a building’s energy, although this varies depending on the technology with which they operate, the number of lifts in the building, the number of floors they serve and the frequency with which they are used.

New lifts are comparatively low consumers of energy thanks to new advances in technology. But it is also possible to go a step further to achieve net zero lifts. Some of the methods of doing this are to use solar panels on the roof of the lift shaft, cables that reduce energy waste, regenerative lift drives that recapture energy when the lift is in motion, energy efficient lighting and sensors that activate lights and fans only when the lift is occupied. Relay switches can also be swapped for more energy efficient microprocessors within the control panel.

In addition to this, lift manufacturers should also work to raise awareness among customers about the benefits of energy efficient technologies, implement a strategy for attractive modernization upgrade plans, and continually work to improve sustainability and reduce their material usage and carbon footprint in operational and manufacturing processes.

The role of lift associations

As the voice of the European lift industry, ELA is working to create awareness on the role of lifts in relation to climate change. In order to effect real change, a functioning market must exist for energy‐efficient lifts and green products. Currently, market demand is limited for various reasons, mainly due to low awareness among building stakeholders on the role of the lift industry and its improvement potential to reduce energy costs needed to operate buildings. ELA’s Energy and Environment Committee is actively involved in educating construction and building industry stakeholders on how new innovations in lift technologies can bring benefits to the overall energy efficiency performance of buildings.

To move the market towards energy efficient lifts, ELA is also working to help policy makers establish an appropriate framework to support the ecological transition of the lift industry.  ELA is currently lobbying the EC for the inclusion of lifts, escalators and moving walks within the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) in order to make a measurable contribution towards the EU’s ambitious goals. As part of its Eco Strategy, ELA intends to support EU objectives for energy efficient technologies and sustainable materials, ensure that lifts contribute to smart building rating systems, and help create favorable conditions for modernizing existing lift stocks.

Taking action towards real progress

As the lift industry starts setting commitments and roadmaps towards net zero products and operations, this will too encourage suppliers and other players along the value chain to shift towards more sustainable solutions and practices. Action must therefore be taken urgently to reduce the energy that is needed to operate more than six million of existing lifts installed in the EU as well as all the new lifts that will be installed every year.

National associations, lift manufacturers, SMEs and component manufacturers are all urged to make commitments to reduce carbon emissions and help meet the overall European target of reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. ELA members can also contribute their expertise at the highest levels towards the efforts to build a net zero industry.

Visit the ELA website for more information about the work of the Energy and Environment Committee: 


[1] European Commission, “2050 long-term strategy”:

[2] UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021, “COP26 goals”:

[3] European Commission, “Recovery and Resilience Facility”:

[4] European Commission, “A European Green Deal”:

[5] European Commission, “Social Climate Fund”:

[6] European Commission, “In Focus: Energy Efficiency in Buildings”: