RTM Engineering Consultants (RTM) is seeing a growing trend towards architectural projects that focus on building upward instead of sprawling outward due to limited land, particularly in urban areas. Designing multi-story buildings requires architectural and engineer teams to carefully plan elevator systems that meet current safety standards, as well as address the unique needs of the space. In a new series, RTM delves into mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) considerations as well as fire protection factors related to designing a safe and efficient elevator system.

When designing for an elevator system, it is important to first determine which type of elevator meets the requirements of the project. The two main elevator types to consider are hydraulic and traction elevators, which have different requirements and specifications. Building height will play a significant role in deciding which elevator is better suited for a specific project.

Hydraulic elevators utilize pumps that are generally 30-40 horsepower to move hydraulic fluid under a piston to raise the elevator to different floors – when fluid is returned back into the tank, the elevator begins to descend. Hydraulic elevators are advisable for shorter buildings, up to five stories. Because they contain flammable liquid, they are required to feature appropriate fire alarm and protection devices.

Traction elevators, on the other hand, are suspended by tensile cable and balanced by counterweights equal in weight to a half-loaded elevator. These elevators are raised and lowered by moving the cable. Traction elevators are commonly installed in buildings that have more than five stories and utilize motors that are generally 15-20 horsepower.

Click here to download our latest whitepaper “Top MEP Considerations When Designing for Elevator Systems” to learn more about designing a safe and efficient elevator system.