Energy Efficiency Interest Grows But Investment Remains Flat: Report

Energy Efficiency Interest Grows But Investment Remains Flat: Report

Facility managers are more aware of the benefits of energy efficiency improvements than ever but investment levels have not enjoyed a similar increase, according to a new survey.

Johnson Controls unveiled its second annual Energy Efficiency Indicator Monday to offer a glimpse into how organizations are responding to energy costs and environmental concerns. Conducted by the International Facility Management Association, the survey found most respondents expect energy prices to rise.

"It appears companies hear the alarm of increasing energy costs but there's not been a dramatic escalation of investment," David Myers, president of Johnson Controls' building efficiency unit, said during a webcast announcing the research results.

Seventy-two percent of respondents said they pay more attention to energy efficiency, up 10 percent over the year before. The number of respondents who expected to make capital investments in the area remained flat.

Many executives surveyed cited energy independence as the motivating factor behind the increasing popularity of renewable energy, particularly solar energy.

Environmental responsibility is growing as a driver behind energy efficiency improvements compared to results from the first survey conducted last year. Nearly half of respondents believe energy efficiency mandates will be implemented within the next two years. Cheaper energy efficiency measures, such as lighting retrofits, top the list of initiatives underway but respondents appeared to be moving beyond this low-hanging fruit.

The survey suggests that large organizations are more likely to spend more on energy efficiency, said Clay Nessler, Johnson Controls' vice president of global energy and sustainability.

"Where there's some movement in large organizations as a whole, more of them will make investments and those investments will tend to be a larger percentage of their budget and they will allow a relatively long payback for those investments," Nessler said. "We're still looking for the managers of smaller facilities to increase their level of interest in investment."

A panel discussion moderated by GreenBiz Executive Editor Joel Makower included representatives from Johnson Diversey, Seattle-Tacoma (Sea-Tac) International Airport and Philips Lighting Corp. to examine the ways in which the organizations are responding to energy efficiency challenges. For example, Sea-Tac has managed to double the size of its facility since 2000, but electricity consumption has dropped 25 percent, saving it $1.4 million annually.

Johnson Diversey touted its distribution center in Racine, Wis., that earned a LEED-New Construction Gold certification. The building has a sub-base composed of 34,000 tons of bottom ash that came from a nearby landfill and coal-fired power plant.

The Energy Efficiency Indicator was released the same day as its 2007 Business and Sustainability Report.