Spending Through the Roof

A photo of money swirling around an elevator shaft of a NYC building

Research by Steven Winter Associates and Urban Green Council, funded by NYSERDA

Key Takeaways

  • 4-16% of heating fuel cost can be due to open vents at the tops of elevator shafts.
  • Vents can be partially closed in-house by building staff, or completely closed at time of fire panel upgrades.
  • A how-to guide and calculator can help you quickly evaluate options.

Executive Summary

Tall buildings act like chimneys in cold weather. A shrill whistle emerges from the door keeping you from the lobby and a tug on the door handle does nothing—it’s like it’s glued shut. This is often due to open elevator vents at the top of buildings. All the air that escapes through these vents is replaced with cold air from outside, which then needs to be warmed by the building’s heating system. Owners of apartment buildings over ten stories with open elevator vents spend an average of $3,400 each year to heat air that escapes through the roof. For taller buildings, the cost can be well over $20,000 each year. This report provides clear advice on how to fully or partially close these vents to save energy and money. The research was performed by Steven Winter Associates and published by Urban Green Council, with funding from NYSERDA.

View Urban Green Council’s Interactive Savings Calculator 

Read the Full Report