Voluntary Egress Elevators – Enhancements to the 2004 CTBUH Guidelines

Simon Lay
Olsson Fire & Risk, Manchester

In 2004, CTBUH published its “Emergency Evacuation Elevator Systems Guidelines”. After 9/11, it was clear that egress methodologies for high-rise buildings should be enhanced. This concise, yet comprehensive booklet summarized the benefits of evacuation elevators, and outlined three levels of protection. The Guide also explored the considerations for designing egress elevators and mapped out protocols for total, staged and fractional evacuation. The guide was well received, as the market needed new ideas to enhance high rise safety. This need still exists. In the US, the International Code Council (ICC) implemented the guideline by allowed voluntary use of self-evacuation through “Occupant Evacuation Operation” (OEO) in the International Building Code (IBC). The National Elevator Industry, Inc., (NEII) updated the US elevator code ASME A17.1 to include OEO. In Europe, fractional evacuation was covered through the EN81-76 code, using firefighting elevators already implemented in EN81-72 and 73. Though these were great achievements, the use of emergency egress elevators as a design concept has been very limited and even disappointing.

This presentation reviews the ongoing barriers to implementing voluntary egress elevators as part of the design solution for tall buildings, and sets out solutions for breaking down these barriers. Key challenges and opportunities to improve voluntary emergency egress elevator economics, using incentives in combination with the latest elevator control and smoke protection solutions and smoke-spread knowledge, are explored, with a view to solving these issues for new and existing buildings.