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Commercial Building Energy-Efficiency Measures Increase Worldwide

According to a recent survey, those responsible for energy use in their facilities around the globe are increasingly instituting energy-efficiency measures, prompted by incentives to do so as well a desire to improve their organizations' public image.

Some 4,000 building owners and operators around the globe were recently surveyed by Johnson Controls' Institute for Building Efficiency, the International Facility Management Association, and the Urban Land Institute about their energy-efficiency measures. According to the fifth annual "Energy Efficiency Indicator: Global Results," companies are showing increased interest in energy efficiency as a result of increased incentives for undertaking energy efficiency measures as well as a desire to improve their public image.

Interestingly, nearly half of the respondents are from the United States and Canada. However, the percentage of respondents considering energy management as "extremely or very important" was up on a year-over-year basis in all geographic regions. Also, more than half of the respondents work in the commercial building sector, and a quarter of the respondents consider themselves facility managers.

Energy cost savings is the number-one driver of the respondent firm's energy efficiency measures across the global. Government incentives are the second most important motivating factor, particularly in the U.S/Canada as well as Europe. Incentives do not appear to factor into the energy efficiency decision in China. And an improved public image was the third most important motivator, especially in the U.S./Canada. In fact, four in 10 respondents indicated that they had a certified a green building in 2011. Increased energy security was ranked fourth overall in importance (tied with greenhouse gas reduction), but it was considered second most important by respondents in India and China.

The respondents also overwhelming believe that significant government policy mandating energy efficiency and/or carbon reduction is likely within the next two years: 80 percent say this will occur at the national level, and 72 percent believe it will also occur at the state/provincial level.

Despite their recognition of the importance of energy efficiency measures, many respondents say there are substantial barriers to making these investments, including lack of awareness and/or technical expertise, lack of available capital (cited by 30-38 percent of the European and U.S./Canada respondents), and uncertain outcomes, i.e., will the projected savings be achieved?

Nonetheless, when asked which energy efficiency measures they are employing, the majority say lighting improvements (72 percent) and HVAC improvements (63 percent). Respondents with larger facilities report having undertaken more energy efficiency projects than those with smaller facilities. In spite of facility size, survey results reveal that companies are more likely to engage in energy-efficiency measures if they have established energy or carbon reduction goals, frequently measure and analyze energy usage data, add staff resources or outside service providers to engage in such tasks, and use external financing sources for energy efficiency projects. In fact, those organizations having any of the above attributes, on average, implemented four times as many energy-efficiency measures as those without clearly stated goals and policies.

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