Life-cycle assessment (LCA)
In the context of its annual report, Schindler explicitly presented its product-ecological environmental performance for the first time in 2000 and explained its strategy for continuous reduction of its impact on the environment. This strategy is based on the knowledge derived from a comprehensive life-cycle assessment (LCA) for standard elevators in which all life-cycle phases – development, raw material acquisition, production, packaging and transport, utilization and maintenance as well as disposal – are analyzed. This LCA demonstrates that power consumption of an elevator for operation and standby over a life cycle of 20 to 30 years causes at least two-thirds of the total environmental impact. By far the largest potential for reduction of the environmental impact lies thus in the utilization phase, followed by raw material acquisition and disposal.
The other life-cycle phases are of minor relevance. In particular, the production of an elevator is responsible for less than 10% of the entire environmental impact within the life cycle. Since 80% of the environmental impact of an elevator throughout its lifecycle - including during utilization - is determined during the development phase, product development is the area with by far the greatest scope for ecological leverage.
In 2004, the direct energy consumption of Schindler companies was about 648 GWh (electricity, natural gas, diesel, gasoline, fuel oil, etc.). In the same year, the estimated electricity consumption for the operation of elevators maintained worldwide by Schindler was 4'500 GWh (calculated for a mix of low-, mid-, high-rise, traction and hydraulic elevators with average power consumption). This results in a relation of about 1:7. This value underscores the ecological leverage effect of the development of energy-efficient products in comparison to actual production/maintenance and is confirmed by the knowledge from the life-cycle assessment (LCA).
To measure progress in reducing the environmental impact of its products, Schindler developed an ecological product comparison tool known as PEcoPIT (Product Eco-Performance Improvement Table). It evaluates the power and raw material consumption over the life cycle of products and enables the environmental load of new products compared to be compared with older versions. The potential environmental impact is assessed using SAEFL (Swiss Agency for the Environment, Forests and Landscape) method of ecological scarcity measured with environmental load units (UBP) and using the eco-indicator method measured with eco-indicator points (EIP).
During product development, Schindler focuses on reducing the environmental load of its elevators during the utilization phase and on optimizing, the procurement and disposal of raw materials and disposal in order to minimize their environmental impact in accordance with these findings. This strategy has proved successful in both economic and ecological terms.