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Survey: Facilities managers struggling with commitment to energy efficiency

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While energy management is important to majority, an annual poll shows support for practical initiatives slipped over past 12 months

OK, this is one of those surveys that I was NOT happy to read on Earth Day eve: apparently, fewer building and facilities managers consider energy efficiency a priority in current/planned construction or retrofit projects. What's more, fewer of them agree with the statement: "Energy management is extremely or very important to our organization."

These are a couple of the top-level revelations in the latest Energy Efficiency Indicator, an annual research project and survey conducted by building automation technology company Johnson Controls and the International Facility Management Association. The two have been collaborating on this research for four years. The latest survey of North American facilities executives represents the opinions of 1,435 people who had capital or operations budget responsibility for facilities AND who were involved in reviewing or monitoring energy usage for their organization.

So, back to the data, which as I said, disappoints me. The good news is that a majority of those surveyed (65 percent) agree that they are paying more attention to energy efficiency than in 2009, while 84 percent said it is a priority for new or retrofit projects. It's just that those numbers were larger in 2009. For example, 93 percent of the respondents last year said that energy efficiency was a priority, which is 9 percentage points less than this year's number.

Energy management was most important for executives representing the government and education sector, and for those managing more than 500,000 square feet of facilities.

Other key findings:

  • More than 40 percent said energy cost savings was an "extremely significant" factor in their decision to focus on energy efficiency
  • Concerns about greenhouse gas emissions are become increasingly important as a motivator
  • Close to three-quarters of respondents DID cite energy efficiency in buildings as one of their top six strategic priorities
  • 41 percent invested less in energy efficiency over the past 12 months as a result of the recession
  • MORE of the respondents DO expect to making capital expenditures and operating expenditures in energy efficiency over the NEXT six months
  • The retail sector is a notable laggard in energy efficiency improvements planned for the next 12 months, which is pretty mind-boggling when you consider the massive energy consumption of places like shopping malls
  • 44 percent require return on investment of less than three years for their investments in energy efficiency improvements

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure