Among the key findings of a report released on Dec. 7 by Honeywell and Reuters are that greater energy efficiency, better indoor air quality (IAQ) and meeting environmental, social and governance (ESG) guidelines are three objectives currently prioritized by multinational organizations, as they face increasing pressure to incorporate their building operations into their sustainability plans.
According to a press release describing the research collaboration, nearly nine in 10 survey respondents (87%) say that achieving carbon neutrality in their building portfolio is either extremely (58%) or somewhat (29%) important in relation to their overall ESG goals, with only 4% of respondents calling it unimportant.
As noted by the survey's authors, the sense of urgency is understandable: Commercial building operations currently account for 37% of global energy-related CO2 emissions, according to Honeywell data.
Based on his ongoing conversations with current and prospective customers, Manish Sharma, vice president and general manager of Sustainable Buildings at Honeywell, echoed this sentiment:
“If we fast-forward to 2025, I believe carbon neutrality will be one of the top priorities for organizations, driven partly by new carbon taxation plans and decarbonizing incentives."
Optimism toward sustainability
While the surveyed organizations are feeling pressure to act, the survey group said respondents seem generally optimistic in forecasting progress toward their goals. More than 90% of those surveyed expect to achieve carbon neutrality across their portfolios by 2050, while 62% expect to reach that goal by 2035. Notably, only 8% of respondents say they don’t foresee carbon neutrality ever becoming a reality for their portfolios.
Respondents also noted the business benefits of ramping up sustainability efforts across building portfolios. When asked which three of these benefits they valued most, they cited the following:
- Complying with external regulations and investor demands: 90%; with more than 50% of those surveyed ranking it number one
- Increasing productivity and realising cost reductions: 84%
- Improving brand image: 60%
Despite their optimism, those surveyed noted several significant barriers that impede their efforts. When asked which three obstacles most hinder progress, respondents reported the following:
- Managing costs: 88%
- Measuring sustainability or a lack of expertise: 60%
- Gaining senior leadership support: 50%
The survey also revealed that companies are investing strategically to accelerate decarbonisation and improve overall building performance. While respondents note a wide range of specific efforts, a substantial majority (80%) mention an on-site energy management system as one investment they’ve made to enhance the sustainability of their building operations.
The Honeywell Building Sustainability Manager powered by Honeywell Forge, is a suite of technology solutions that the company says help building owners and operators meet two pressing, yet often conflicting, objectives – optimizing a building’s IAQ while still reducing its environmental impact – with the aim of helping them to meet carbon neutral goals.
“Incorporating the way buildings operate into sustainability plans is an ongoing process with no fixed endpoint,” said Liam Dowd, Industry Lead – Sustainable Business, Reuters Professional. “While the organisations surveyed differ in how far they’ve progressed toward developing strategies and solutions to support this process, the first step is to benchmark the carbon output of buildings and define the current state of the portfolio.”