Fire Technology

, Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 155–172 | Cite as

A Life-Cycle Cost Comparison of Exit Stairs and Occupant Evacuation Elevators in Tall Buildings

  • David T. Butry
  • Robert E. Chapman
  • Allison L. Huang
  • Douglas S. Thomas


Recent changes in the International Building Code (IBC) require a third exit stair for buildings in excess of 420 ft (128 m) high. Additionally, the new code provision allows for occupant evacuation elevators (OEE) to be used as an alternative to the third stair, provided the passenger elevator be protected in such a way to facilitate safe building evacuation. In this study, we evaluate the life-cycle costs of these alternative means of egress, using two prototypical building designs. Building ‘42F’ is a 42 floor, 504 ft (154 m) high building with a total floorspace of 1.68 million ft2 (0.16 million m2). Building ‘75F’ is a 75 floor, 900 ft (274 m) high building with a total floorspace of 3.38 million ft2 (0.31 million m2), including an 8403 ft2 (781 m2) sky lobby. The life-cycle cost of the OEE is compared to two exit stair designs, differentiated by width: 44 in. (112 cm) and 66 in. (168 cm). The wider exit stair conforms with another change to the IBC that requires the increase in width of exit stairs by 50% in new sprinklered buildings. The results of the economic analysis demonstrate that: (1) an additional exit stair is a cost-effective alternative to the installation of OEE on a first-cost basis; and (2) OEE are a cost-effective alternative to the installation of an additional exit stair on a life-cycle cost basis when rental rates are moderate to high and when discount rates are moderate to low.


Buildings Cost data Economic analysis Egress Exit stairs Fire protection Life-cycle cost Occupant evacuation elevators Safety 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC (Outside the USA) 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • David T. Butry
    • 1
  • Robert E. Chapman
    • 1
  • Allison L. Huang
    • 1
  • Douglas S. Thomas
    • 1
  1. 1.Applied Economics Office, Engineering Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and TechnologyGaithersburgUSA

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