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Sustainability investments bounce back

IRELAND: The UK, France, Japan and USA are said to be leading the world in plans to increase investment in energy efficiency, renewable energy or smart building technology.

The findings in Johnson Controls’ latest annual Energy Efficiency Indicator Survey reveal that 62% of organisations expect to increase investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy, or smart building technology in 2022, indicating a return to pre-pandemic levels.  

Organisations are still facing challenges to accelerate their sustainability efforts in key areas. Almost two-thirds of survey respondents said they struggle to scale sustainability initiatives across buildings, geographies, or business units.


“In the face of the multiple and continuous shock waves of the last two years, it is very encouraging to see that building owners and operators are driving forward the kinds of investments that deliver the resilience needed to grow their business and attract and retain the best talent,” said Katie McGinty, Johnson Controls’ vice president and chief sustainability and external relations officer. 

“Whether it is the damage delivered by climate-charged destructive natural events, or the health threat of the pandemic, or now, the stark demonstration of the insecurity of world energy supplies, it is clear that taking action to cut energy demand while decarbonising and cleaning the air are core strategies for companies, governments and institutions to not only survive but to thrive.”

Planned investment in energy generation or storage has grown significantly over five years, the survey reveals, suggesting that this is a response to the global focus on decarbonisation, and as part of that effort, electrification. 

More than a third of respondents plan to replace fossil fuel heating equipment with heat pump technology in the next year – 7% more than what was implemented in the year prior. Notably, thermal energy storage jumped from 27% to 42% in the last five years. More than half of respondents implemented electric energy storage in the past year.

US and Europe lead

The survey also found that the United States and Europe still lead the way in every metric of green building planning. The US had the most respondents who had already achieved green building certification and expect to have a net zero energy or carbon building in the next ten years. Europe had the most respondents planning to attain green building certifications and the most respondents who have established public energy/carbon reduction goals, with UK leading with 46% established goals.

Compared to its global counterparts, significantly more respondents in the US plan to implement measures such as building controls improvements, onsite renewable energy, and energy management process such as  ISO 50001. Of the countries surveyed, the UK, France, and Japan have the most respondents who expect to increase investment in energy efficiency, renewable energy, or smart building technology over the next year. 


Although global scale transformation is necessary to course-correct on climate change, organisations are facing barriers to pursuing sustainability initiatives. Almost half of the respondents surveyed say their top barrier to pursue energy and building technology improvements is either a lack of funding to pay for improvements (25%) or uncertainty in their return-on-investment (23%).

Additionally, more than half of respondents pointed to a lack of technology as one of the hindrances to scaling sustainability efforts.


The pandemic has also prompted organisations to rethink their technology investment decision-making. Protecting the health and safety of building occupants during the coronavirus pandemic was the second most significant driver of investments globally. Additionally, 65% of respondents performed an indoor air quality assessment last year.

The Johnson Controls Energy Efficiency Indicator Survey collected responses from a 1,000 participants globally between November and December 2021.

Learn more about the survey findings here.

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