Research: Execs Investing in Energy Efficiency

Executives are continuing to focus on energy efficiency investments, according to new research commissioned by Johnson Controls.

"It appears as though companies are feeling the pressure of increasing energy costs and environmental responsibility," said C. David Myers, president of Building Efficiency for Johnson Controls. "According to our research, they definitely understand that's it's important to be pro-active when coping with economic and environmental challenges."

Johnson Controls, a leader in creating smart environments, commissioned the survey of 1,500 North American executives that was conducted in March 2008.

According to the second annual Johnson Controls Energy Efficiency Indicator survey, nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of organizations are paying more attention to energy efficiency than they were just a year ago. However, the percentage of companies expecting to make energy efficiency improvements, as well as their planned investment over the next year, has remained constant.

"It's one thing to be aware of a problem, and another to take steps to solve it," said Clay Nesler, vice-president of global energy and sustainability for Johnson Controls. "But as energy prices continue to rise, our research indicates that the combination of economic pressure and environmental awareness will motivate people to make smart investments that have a big payoff in the long term."

The research identified energy management decision-makers and asked how their organizations were responding to rising energy costs and environmental issues. Members of the International Facility Management Association and the American Society of Healthcare Engineering were included as survey respondents.

According to the survey, the most significant growth in energy efficiency measures include replacing inefficient equipment before the end of its useful life (41 percent, up 13 percent from 2007) and switching to energy efficient lighting (78 percent, up 11 percent). Also, 88 percent claim that energy efficiency is a design priority in construction and retrofit projects, up 11 percent from just a year ago.

"Businesses are starting to move beyond the low-hanging fruit and make more significant energy efficiency investments," said Nesler. "It appears that, with more energy efficient design in future development, we'll see a broader, farther reaching approach to the way in which companies react."

For the first time, the Energy Efficiency Indicator probed deeper into how environmental and financial factors influence their company's energy efficiency decisions:

• 28 percent of respondents feel climate change is an extremely or very significant influence, and 31 percent said it was somewhat significant.

• 38 percent believe utility or government incentives are extremely or very influential.

For executives with large facilities that number rose to 45 percent. In the only significant regional difference in the results, an even higher percentage of executives in the western part of the United States (47 percent) said incentives were extremely or very influential.

Executives surveyed appear increasingly open to investments in renewable energy. In response to a new question this year, 38 percent said that solar electric panels either were being included or considered in their new construction or retrofit projects, and 24 percent said they were including or considering solar thermal panels for their projects.

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