IRELAND: A survey has found that more than half of US organisations plan to increase investment in energy efficiency, renewable energy and smart building technology next year.
The findings of Johnson Controls’ annual Energy Efficiency Indicator survey were drawn from interviews with 150 energy and facility management executives across the US between September 11 and October 5, this year.
Of the factors determining investment, 85% said that reducing energy costs was a very or extremely important driver of investment and 76% believe that protecting the health and safety of occupants during emergencies was a very or an extremely important driver of investment.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to improve the health and safety of buildings, particularly by increasing their ability to operate under different conditions, both planned and unforeseen,” said Clay Nesler, vice president of global energy and sustainability at Johnson Controls. “Though the pandemic has altered how people are investing in their buildings, occupant health and energy efficiency continue to be top of mind and we anticipate these investments will be a priority in 2021 as more people return to shared spaces.”
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 indoor air quality
Covid-19 has also made indoor air quality 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.
The integration of systems has also become more important than ever with 75% of respondents’ organisations having invested in the integration of security systems with other building technology systems, a 36% increase from the 2019 study. And 33% plan to invest in the integration of building technology systems with distributed energy resources in the next year, a 15% increase over 2020.
Net zero energy buildings
The study found growing interest in net zero energy buildings and resiliency, with 70% of organisations very likely or extremely likely to have one or more facilities that are nearly zero, net zero or positive energy or carbon status in the next ten years – an increase of 7% on 2019.
Further, two-thirds of organisations said they were very likely or extremely likely to have one or more facilities able to operate off the grid in the next ten years – an increase of 3% from 2019. Additionally, 63% of organisations invested in onsite renewable energy in 2020, a 22% increase from the organisations that said they were planning to in the 2019 study.
A summary of the 2020 Energy Efficiency Index can be downloaded here.