How Building Material Advancements Can Be Used To Improve Energy Efficiency in Buildings

Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times One World Trade Center's height of 1,776 feet includes its spire. Photo via nytimes.com
Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
One World Trade Center’s height of 1,776 feet includes its spire. Photo via nytimes.com

Recent news that One World Trade Center is now the tallest building in the country has people fixated on skyscrapers once again. But do you know which building holds the distinction of world’s fastest elevator?

That would be the Taipei 101 building, which was designed by Toshiba and travels at a speed of 33.7 mph.  Featuring speedy technology (from ground to roof in thirty seconds flat) and Kone’s new carbon fiber hoist cable innovations, this building boasts superhero strength. Relatively new to the market, Kone’s UltraRope ™ carbon fiber hoisting ropes enable elevators to rise one kilometer high. In other words, that’s double the 500 meter max height of steel fiber hoisting ropes. Carbon fiber hoisting cables are also much lighter than steel fiber cables, which means the lighter elevator cab requires significantly less electrical energy to travel up and down in the building. As skyscrapers typically employ dozens of elevators, carbon fiber cables could greatly reduce the building’s overall energy usage.

With Dubai’s Burj Khalifa standing at an impressive 830 meters tall, passengers in the world’s tallest building currently have to take one of its 57 elevators up to a certain height, get off and get onto another elevator to make it to the top floor. With this new carbon fiber cable technology, however, the Burj Khalifa could cut its elevator reserve in half and use 45 percent less energy per elevator cab.

Due to cutting-edge advancements in elevator technologies and materials, towers can continue to push the height envelope. As a result, building occupants will be able to travel vertically more efficiency. Whether this will change city skylines as we know them remains to be seen, but it does make one wonder: how tall can we really go?


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