New Research Predicts a Rebound in Energy-Efficiency Spending

April 26, 2010
Following a decline last year, 52 percent of North American executives and managers are planning to make capital investments in energy efficiency this year

Those looking for signs that the U.S. economy is rebounding can find encouragement in the fourth annual Energy Efficiency Indicator, which was released by Johnson Controls.

A survey of more than 1,400 North American executives and managers responsible for making investments and managing energy in commercial buildings found that planned investment in energy efficiency is expected to rebound in 2010. Following a decline last year, the survey found that 52 percent (up from 46 percent) are planning to make capital investments in energy efficiency, and 60 percent are planning (up from 55 percent) to make operating budget expenditures in efficiency programs over the next 12 months. A significant number of the business leaders surveyed (38 percent), however, said that the largest barrier to making energy-efficiency investments is limited capital availability.

According to this year’s survey, 65 percent of business leaders say they are paying more attention to energy efficiency than they were 1 year ago; 84 percent of respondents say that energy efficiency is a priority for new construction and retrofit projects planned for this year.

The most important factor influencing energy-efficiency decisions is energy cost savings, with 97 percent of respondents identifying it as significant. Sixty-four percent expect energy prices to rise in 2010. Overall, the average expectation of respondents is a seven percent increase in the combined price of energy over the next 12 months.

The next most important factors influencing energy-efficiency decisions are enhanced public image (63 percent), government and utility incentives (62 percent), and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions (62 percent). This climate concern is growing in importance, up from 57 percent that considered greenhouse-gas reduction a significant factor in 2009.

Seventy-five percent of decision-makers believe that significant legislation mandating energy efficiency and/or carbon reduction is likely within the next 2 years, compared to 85 percent in 2009 and 76 percent in 2008.

When asked what specific energy-efficiency improvements have been implemented over the past 12 months, the most popular are those with low capital cost and/or a rapid return on investment. The survey shows that 72 percent switched to energy-efficient lighting; 63 percent trained facilities staff; 61 percent educated building occupants to save energy; 56 percent made set point adjustments; 40 percent installed occupancy or daylight sensors; and 33 percent upgraded building controls 

Executives were also asked this year to predict what energy-related technologies would see the greatest improvement in performance-to-price ratio over the next 10 years. The top picks were lighting (51 percent), smart building technology (44 percent), solar PV (38 percent), electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles (28 percent), and nuclear power (22 percent).

To access the Energy Efficiency Indicator press kit, visit the media center at www.johnsoncontrols.com.

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