Johnson Controls, Milwaukee, Wis., unveiled the findings from its 2018 Energy Efficiency Indicator (EEI) survey, revealing that U.S. organizations are planning to increase investments in smart building measures, including building controls and building systems integration at a greater rate than more traditional energy efficiency measures.

The survey of nearly 2,000 facility and energy management executives from 20 countries found that 57% of organizations in the United States and 59% of global organizations plan to increase investment in energy efficiency in the next year.

In fact, organizations identify greenhouse gas footprint reduction, energy cost savings, energy security and enhanced reputation as key drivers of investment fueling growth in green, net zero energy and resilient buildings.

Smart buildings drive future investment

Building controls improvements were cited as the most popular investment for the next 12 months, with 68% of respondents planning to implement this measure. Building system integration saw a 23% increase in respondents planning to invest in 2019 compared to 2018, the largest increase of any measure in the survey.

"Organizations are more interested than ever in leveraging energy efficiency, energy storage and distributed generation technologies to deliver smarter, safer and more sustainable buildings," says Clay Nesler, vice president, global sustainability. "U.S. organizations are especially bullish about the future impact of systems interoperability, systems integration and cybersecurity technologies, leading all other countries."   

Due to increasingly severe weather incidents around the world, the results also highlight a growing global focus on resilience and energy security. One-third of U.S. and global organizations (32% and 33%, respectively) believe the ability to maintain critical operations during severe weather events or extended power outages is extremely important when considering future energy and building infrastructure investments. Roughly half of U.S. and global organizations (54% and 50%, respectively) are extremely or very likely to have one or more facilities operate off the grid in the next 10 years, a 10% increase in the United States from last year. Globally, plans to invest in distributed energy generation, electric energy storage and on-site renewables also increased year-over-year.

Increased interest and investment in sustainable buildings

Analysis of the annual survey results from 2008 to 2018 revealed dramatic shifts in energy efficiency goals, actions and investments throughout the past decade.

In 2008, very few respondents (8%) had any certified green buildings and only one-third (34%) planned to certify new construction projects to a recognized green standard. This year, 19% of U.S. organizations have already achieved voluntary green building certification for at least one of their facilities, and 53% plan to do so in the future, a combined increase of 31% over the past year alone. Globally, 14% of organizations have achieved voluntary green building certification for at least one of their facilities and 44% plan to do so in the future.

In 2008, less than one-third of respondents (30%) believed green buildings would be very important in attracting and retaining future employees, but in 2018, 44% of U.S. organizations and 51% globally are willing to pay a premium to lease space in a certified-green building.

The survey also saw a significant year-over-year increase in net zero energy goals, with 61% of U.S. organizations extremely or very likely to have one or more facilities that are nearly zero, net zero or positive energy/carbon in the next 10 years, up 14% from last year.

About the survey:
The 2018 EEI survey is Johnson Controls' 12th edition global survey analyzing energy efficiency, renewable energy, building systems integration and smart city plans, practices and investments among executive-level building and city decision makers. The 2018 survey respondents include over 1,900 facility and energy management executives from 20 countries from a variety of commercial, institutional and government facility portfolios. These countries include Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.