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Rome hosts “Lifts & Escalators in Smart Cities.”

On April 18-19, the Radisson Blu in Rome played host to the annual European Lift Association (ELA) Conference. Jorge Liguerre, the new ELA president, opened the two-day event by saying:

“It is a great pleasure to welcome you in the marvelous city of Rome, which has been a ‘smart city’ for millennia – and, in many respects still is. We here today are therefore grateful to the Italian association AssoAscensori/ANIE (Italian federation of electrotechnical and electronic companies) with its president, Roberto Zappa, and its secretary general, Silvia Migliavacca, for the invitation to hold our meetings here and for their help and hospitality.”

Day One

Morning Session

Liguerre then introduced the theme for day one: “Lifts and Escalators in Smart Cities.” This intriguing introduction started with an illustration of the gladiator lift in the world-famous Colosseum, where lifts and hoists were utilized in both its construction and day-to-day operations. From those ancient times, Liguerre explained that the number and population density of cities had greatly expanded. A number of slides and graphs were shown that demonstrated these “Global Megatrends” up to present times and beyond. These certainly gave everyone much to think about. The urban population in 1900 was 15% of the world population, and this percentage was projected to rise to 67% in the year 2050. This projection would also imply 2.5 billion people entering the middle class, thus increasing the consumption of manufactured goods and natural resources.

The first keynote speaker was Dr. Dario Trabucco from the University of Venice. Trabucco gave an architectural overview that highlighted the development of the electric lift, along with steel-frame construction techniques. Some interesting early illustrations of these architectural visions were shown, and a comparison with what had actually been built was made. Trabucco highlighted the planning limitations of lift systems that have understandably focused on individual high-rise buildings. This included references contrary to the visions, which were for a more multi-layered and integrated structure that could interconnect buildings at various levels.

Trabucco again stressed the population growth and urbanization that had occurred in recent years, and stated that we could look forward to even more expansion for many years to come. In closing, he showed examples of high-rise architecture, along with modern materials and concepts that will help accommodate the growing city. He stressed that we must innovate if the demands of an aging population, a growing middle class and emerging countries are to be met.

Safety issues regarding lifts and escalators were then explored by Carine Le Callonnec and Rafael Herrero Manrique. During these presentations, some key issues regarding safety were highlighted: hazard awareness, practical training, application of appropriate regulations and the collection of full accident data. Safety regarding all the different types of people-moving equipment was raised with an explanation about how and where they fit into the code and standards legislations. This was obviously important, but the problem of how to police and regulate the standards is something that has not yet been completely resolved. Notified Bodies and administrations must have a key role, but there is clearly a lack of qualified and independent people to undertake this work.

The topic of energy was then focused upon by Adrian Harris and Dirk De Moor, who looked at the topic of energy efficiency with particular attention to the challenge of making the best use of that energy when there is an ever-growing demand for power and the resources needed to generate it. Harris, the director general of Orgalime, demonstrated the importance of grouping all energy-related associations together to achieve a common understanding so that all the different rafts of legislation and initiatives can be understood and reacted to. This was well defined in the presentation, where Orgalime could be seen to represent the total energy sector, covering generation, transmission, distribution and the multitude of end users. The use of European energy directives and initiatives was highlighted, and improved energy efficiency in buildings was expected as a result. Four key directives were seen to be significant: Energy Labelling Directive 2010/30/EU, Ecodesign Directive 2009/125/EC, Energy Performance Building Directive 2010/31/EU and Energy Efficiency Directive 2012/27/EU.

 Afternoon Session

In many respects, the afternoon session was more technical, with Giuseppe Iotti and Martin Blumberg starting it off with a look at improving the environmental performance of lifts and escalators. Iotti stressed the need for flexible small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and associations that can serve local needs in the megatall buildings of the future. The need for competitive cooperation between the large and SME organizations was an important factor in achieving the necessary coverage this demanding market requires.

Blumberg concentrated more on the Product Environmental Platform, where the lifecycle analysis and environmental-performance declarations for lifts were considered good ways forward. The program started in June, and Phase 2 of the initiative will roll out in October.

The closing session of the conference looked at the legislative and standardization framework, where Esfandiar Gharibaan and Christian de Mas Latrie gave their comprehensive presentations on the current status and implementation of LD 2014/33/EU. Unfortunately, the closing remarks were not presented by the director general of MISE. These were apologetically given by Roberto Zappa, who did a great job on short notice. Zappa stressed the difficult situation Italy found itself in and expressed his frustration regarding the implementation of the directives and safety initiatives, especially in regards to existing installations.

The conference expressed its support for the Italian associations and forthcoming help from the ELA should it be needed. It was obviously very important in the context of this conference that the ratification and implementation of the standards should be achieved to ensure safe, functioning transportation systems in both current and future buildings and infrastructure projects.

Day Two

Day Two of the gathering was concluded with the presentation of the ELA Association Award, which went to the Italian association AssoAscensori/ANIE. Zappa and Migliavacca were pleased to accept the trophy and fittingly invited many colleagues to join them onstage.

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