Russ Ward

Green Solution MEM Elevator System

When it comes to the green movement, it seems everyone has an opinion. Seemingly in play are the validity of claims, the science, who is at fault and of course funding. You probably will be grateful to know I am not going to dwell on any of that in this blog post. Instead, I am going to focus on a real solution we provide when it comes to construction projects. Specifically, how we can help to make construction more eco-friendly by providing a greener solution.

Not a Screed

This is not going to be a screed. You can get all you want of that in other forums (there are plenty). This will be an honest look at real solutions or our deeds not words. See, there are two distinct camps when it comes to building greener. The true believers that are keenly aware of environmental issues and sincerely seek out greener alternatives. Then there is a more cynical bunch where “green” is more of a buzz word. It is viewed as an inconvenience, extra cost and larger headache that the builder is required to contend with.

A Better Greener Solution

Regardless of which camp you fall into, this post will show MEM as a better solution overall. Regardless of your opinion on sustainability, or the environment we at MEM are still and have always been the best the solution for any low or mid-rise building.

You can be of differing philosophies at the polar opposites of the discussion on climate or environment and still reach the conclusion that our ideas and innovation are needed. We are not necessarily concerned with how you arrived at building greener with MEM we just want to welcome you aboard.

Also, I am not going to dwell on sophistry or window dressing that you see so much of. Let’s face it, it is far too easy to wave around marketing pieces and propped up green accreditation. I grow weary of Neville Chamberlin like pronouncements of true change in our time that are worthless in real terms. Especially, when you consider nothing in the old elevator industry has changed for years. That is until the advent of the revolutionary modular elevator by MEM.

So here are a couple of real ways modular is a greener solution and why we are a better solution overall.

Greener Installation

This is huge! Largely due to the fact that power usage for a standard 2-stop elevator with moderate use equals only $40 to $50 dollars a month or less. You can trim that consumption number a bit with LEDs and settings, but the real environmental savings comes during the installation. This is where true innovation can have an impact.

See, believe it or not the way elevators have been installed has not changed since the Civil War. Our Civil War in the US, over 160 years ago! In 1859 even prior the advent of passenger elevators a hoistway or shaft was built in the Cooper Union Foundation Building anticipating vertical transportation. In the lumbering brontosaurus that is the elevator industry that model has not changed since. That sounds crazy but its true.

Hoistway sits for months delaying the project.
This hoistway took months to build due to weather delays. It just sat there for weeks on end. A modular elevator can be placed in hours.

Bad for the Environment

We see it when we drive by a construction site. A concrete block or cement structure is built (usually first) standing there like the obelisk to ignorance it is. This clunky, old-fashioned way of building the hoistway first is an environmental train wreck in many ways.

First, the environment suffers every time a team of bricklayers drives their diesel doolies to the construction site everyday for weeks on end erecting the scaffolding, forms and the hoistway structure. Not to mention the production of the product itself and waste involved in mixing all that cement and producing block.

Despite inroads, concrete, cement and block is the least recyclable material recycled in construction. However, our revolutionary process produces hoistways built out of steel and are therefore greener. This is because steel is the most recycled material in the world, with about 98 percent of all structural steel avoiding the landfill.

Concrete Gets an “F”

Concrete is another matter completely. According to the Cement Sustainability Initiative “Recycling concrete reduces natural resource exploitation and associated transportation costs, and reduces waste landfill. However, it has little impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions as most emissions occur when cement is made, and cement alone cannot be recycled.” (emphasis added). In other words if recycling and reducing greenhouse gasses is the measure or your desire. Concrete gets a failing grade.

Using steel overall or recycled steel on the other hand impacts greenhouse gasses significantly. It takes 75 percent less energy to make recycled steel than steel produced from its raw material, iron ore. The green solution is a steel hoistway. If you truly want to make a difference in deeds not words, dump as much concrete and block you can out of your plans and go with steel.


But even more impressive is the possible reuse of the structure itself. A modular elevator can literally be picked up and moved.

Although this does not happen often as the lifecycle of a modular elevator is the same or even longer than a conventional elevator. Repurposing the steel shaft is possible. Even the EPA recognizes reuse as an important component of sustainability. If you cannot use the entire structure it can be cut to length for any number or reuse projects or it can be more easily recycled.

Concrete is severely limited in reuse possibilities, recycling it has no effect on reducing greenhouse gasses and cement cannot even be recycled. To fabricate a steel hoistway it takes less energy overall and less time. It only makes sense to use a modular elevator for any low or mid-rise building.

Another twist on reuse is…pre-use. A modular elevator installs so quickly that it can be used as the construction elevator. Imagine all the carbon it takes to haul in, set up and operate a temporary elevator. MEM elevators can be used instead and then switched to permanent passenger use when ready. This makes sense whether you are looking for a green alternative or not.

How the Elevator Gets Inside Counts Too

We covered the hoistway regarding steel versus concrete and it is a pretty impressive win for modular, but there is more. The actual old method of installation of the elevator equipment is another black mark on the record of the out of date elevator industry. Remember that building in 1859? The Cooper Foundation? Here’s why it matters.

This may shock some of you but, everything that is in an elevator hoistway has to be installed by taking the item through the elevator doors in the building and into the shaft. Everything! Rails to cab, wiring to doors. I tell this to people outside of the construction industry and they look at me like I have three heads. It is that unbelievable. But, again if your model for efficiency is pre-Civil War what do you expect?

Burning Gas

So with a traditional elevator a crew drives to and from the site as needed for weeks to hand carry all the bit and pieces of the elevator into the shaft. Inside they screw, cobble, bolt and coerce together all the pieces. As they come and go others come and go too. Parts, components and tools are delivered. And don’t forget lunch breaks. All this travel burns fuel by the gallons. Spewing exhaust to no end in the air.

On the other hand a modular unit is completely assembled in the factory. The hoistway is manufactured and then all of the components are placed inside.

Efficiency is what we do and as a result we have a better product delivered faster that eats up less fossil fuels and produces less carbon in the process. Win for everyone. Our installation takes place at a factory with careful inspection and care. There is only one trip with a crane to the site to set the elevator in place. A process that takes four hours or less. Again modular is the greener solution.

I Could Go On…And On

In this post I only covered the hoistway and the installation but, there is more…much, much more. The reason is that modular elevators are factory built and have tons of opportunities to save energy, reduce waste and increase recycling.

To you cynics out there that are not believers in the green movement, remember that we revolutionize construction by moving the elevator to the front of the building process. That means your building will be completed faster. Greener for the environment whether you want it or not but greener for your pocketbook in time saved, efficiency and quality.

But the “green” doesn’t end with the hoistway and installation. Here’s a list of other benefits to modular elevators:

  • Engineered to have less waste. Materials ordered in the right size and the right quantities. Fast, easy manufacturing through better engineering.
  • Fewer mistakes. A factory environment eliminates issues with poor measurement or accidents. There is never a teardown and rebuild. Our hoistways are perfectly plumb and square every time.
  • No damaged or lost materials. Drywall and 2X4s can’t just walk away from a factory or get broken by accident.
  • Inventory controls. We know what we have on hand and order what we need always precise in procurement. We don’t buy 10% more materials to cover mistakes or mismeasurement.
  • Recycling is easier in a factory. What limited scrap we do have, gets sorted and recycled not just thrown in a trash pile or dumpster at the site. That includes packaging.
  • Industry green standards. LED lighting to internal controls that make your elevator more efficient are available.
  • Reduces general construction costs. The jobsite closes quicker. With an elevator delivered in four hours and moved to the beginning of the project, the elevator will not hold up closing the project down.

Behind the Curve

Why are the old elevator companies lagging so far behind the curve regarding green issues? In a nutshell, because they are not elevator manufacturers. They are elevator maintenance companies. Their goal is not to innovate or find better ways, their goal is to sell maintenance deals.

With MEM we manufacture elevators and are constantly pushing the industry in new ways by making improvements and seeking innovation. It is what we do and you can see that in our vision – MEM’s Vision: We believe in challenging the status quo…in revolutionizing the “elevator process”. We don’t just think outside the box…we think BEYOND the box. 


Lastly, you have to ask yourself, “Is going green really important?” If it is then you have no real choice, modular elevators are a must for any project low or mid-rise project. If you consider yourself green, but do not at least look into MEM elevators then how committed are you really? Remember deeds not words.

For the cynics ask yourself, “For the same general investment would you be impressed with a truly green product that installs in four hours and saves you countless headaches, time and resources?” If the answer is yes (which it will be), then modular again is the best alternative.

Modular elevators are a green solution for everyone. For that reason alone is time to join the MEM revolution. Click the button below for a Fast Track quote on a project you have in mind or set up a Live Virtual Tour of our facility.

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5 thoughts on “Green Solution MEM Elevator System

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  4. Scotty

    Never realized that elevator companies were using a pre-1900’s model for building elevators. I like the idea of revolution!

    • Russ Ward

      It really is crazy when you think about all of the innovation especially in the building trades that major elevator companies have lagged so far behind. Contact for a quote next time you build.

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