Survey: More Than Half of Organizations Plan to Increase Investment in Renewable Energy Next Year

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by | Dec 2, 2020

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Johnson Controls has released the findings of its annual Energy Efficiency Indicator survey, which found that more than half of organizations plan to increase investment in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and smart building technology next year, comparable with investment trends after the 2010 recession.

Of the factors determining investment, the majority (85%) said that reducing energy costs was a very or extremely important driver of investment and more than three-quarters (76%) believe that protecting the health and safety of occupants during emergencies was a very or an extremely important driver of investment.

Despite reduced occupancy, the study found that facility energy use dropped surprisingly little during the pandemic, with less than 10% of facilities reducing energy use more than 20%.

Investments in Air Quality and Flexibility

As the world learns more about the spread of Covid-19 through aerosol transmission, indoor air quality has become one of the most pressing issues for facility managers to address. The survey found that 79% have already or are planning to increase air filtration, three-quarters have already or are planning to install an air treatment system and 72% have already or are planning to increase outdoor air ventilation rates.

The majority of respondents — 81% — said that increasing the flexibility of facilities to quickly respond to a variety of emergency conditions was very or extremely important driver of investment.

Further, in an increasingly digital world, the integration of systems has become more important than ever. Three-quarters of respondents’ organizations have invested in the integration of security systems with other building technology systems, a 36% increase from the 2019 study. And one-third of respondents plan to invest in the integration of building technology systems with distributed energy resources in the next year, a 15% increase over 2020.

The integration of new technology continues to be a theme, with 79% of respondents noting that data analytics and machine learning will have an extremely or very significant impact on buildings, up 5% from last year’s study.

Increased Interest in Net Zero Energy Buildings 

The study found growing interest in net zero energy buildings and resiliency, with 70% of organizations very or extremely likely to have one or more facilities that are nearly zero, net zero or positive energy or carbon status in the next 10 years – an increase of 7% from 2019.

Further, two-thirds of organizations are very or extremely likely to have one or more facilities able to operate off the grid in the next 10 years – an increase of 3% from 2019. Additionally, 63% of organizations invested in onsite renewable energy in 2020, a 22% increase from the organizations that said they were planning to in the 2019 study.

Funding Facility Improvements

The 2020 survey found that funding for facility improvements increasingly came from internal capital budgets (71%), energy services agreements (24%) and economic stimulus and recovery funds (20%).

Survey methodology: This independent survey was fielded online to 150 energy and facility management executives across the US between September 11, 2020 and October 5, 2020. Of respondents, 27% held roles in commercial organizations, 37% in institutions, 23% in industry, and 13% in other organizations.

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