Improving the sustainability and performance of buildings is becoming more and more of an important topic on the agenda of many businesses and organizations. Whether it’s reducing carbon emissions and improving energy management or enhancing occupant experience, HVAC is always one of the key factors.

Honeywell Building Technologies and Reuters recently released “The Growing Importance of Sustainability in Buildings,” a report that looks at where building owners and operators are prioritizing their strategies and investments in the sustainable building space.

The report shows several significant investments to accelerate the drive to carbon neutrality and improve sustainability efforts in overall building performance. However, it also noted obstacles and barriers; respondents cited a lack of resources and expertise, inability to measure sustainability progress, cost, and confusion on where to begin.

The report is based on a survey of more than 185 senior executives from organizations that have significant building portfolios and includes responses from teams managing large-scale sites, institutions, and facilities. More than 70% of respondents have direct responsibility for more than 10 buildings, with just under 50% of respondents having responsibility for more than 50 buildings.

“If we fast forward to 2024-2025, I believe this will be one of the top priorities for organizations, driven by new taxation plans on carbon and new incentive plans particularly across the U.S. and European markets.”
- Manish Sharma
Vice president and general manager of Sustainable Buildings


While respondents noted 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.

Among some of the other investments prioritized by respondents in the report are better indoor air quality (IAQ), greater energy efficiency, and meeting environmental, social and governance (ESG) guidelines.

Respondents were asked about the importance of reducing carbon emissions in relation to their organizations’ overall sustainability goals. Close to 90% of respondents indicated that it was either extremely important (58.3%) or somewhat important (29.4%) in relation to these goals. Less than 4% of respondents said that it wasn’t important to them.

The report said, “With the latest figures indicating that buildings account for 37% of the world’s carbon emissions, the pressing need to reduce the carbon impact across building portfolios is there, coupled with the fact that organizations are now placing a higher emphasis on improving the performance of their assets.”

Manish Sharma, vice president and general manager of sustainable buildings at Honeywell, reinforces this when referencing ongoing conversations he has with clients and partners.

“If we fast forward to 2024-2025, I believe this will be one of the top priorities for organizations, driven by new taxation plans on carbon and new incentive plans particularly across the U.S. and European markets.”



When asked which three obstacles are most hindering progress to making improvements in sustainability efforts, there were some clear barriers amongst respondents. The six addressed in the report were:

  • Cost
  • Convincing c-suite/management
  • Convincing investors
  • Measuring sustainability progress
  • Unsure where to start
  • Lack of resources and expertise

The most common barrier was managing costs, chosen by more than 88% of respondents.

“Difficulties in measurement and a general lack of resources and expertise are other areas that more than 60% of respondents point to, with problems in convincing senior leadership teams also cited by more than 50% of those surveyed,” the report said.


Whose Responsibility?

The report states that from the responses of the survey, it’s clear that the responsibility for driving sustainability and carbon reduction across building portfolios rests either with an organization’s leadership team or as a collaborative effort across multiple departments.

When asked who is ultimately responsible for driving sustainability and carbon reduction in buildings in their organization, respondents said:

  • 37.4%: executive leadership team
  • 37.4%: a combination of departments
  • 12.3%: sustainability department
  • 10.2%: facilities departments
  • 2.0%: real estate department

“We can see from the results that a relatively small percentage of organizations give their specific sustainability, facilities or real estate departments overall responsibility for this, which suggests that it is high priority and is largely being led by leadership,” the report said — nothing that most large organizations now have someone in an executive-level position to lead initiatives in sustainability.