More companies are paying attention to energy efficiency than years past, according to an annual survey from Johnson Controls. 

The Energy Efficiency Indicator survey questioned more than 1,500 facility and management executive worldwide about their company’s energy efficiency and renewable energy plans, practices and investments.

Those that replied said reduction of costs, energy security and greenhouse gas emissions are the most important drivers for investments. Energy security and greenhouse gas emissions were most important particularly for the United States (92 percent) and Canada (91 percent).

Seventy-five percent of respondents stated that HVAC equipment investments were the most important improvement over the last year. On-site renewable energy (57 percent) and energy storage (48 percent) are predicted as companies’ most important investments for next year. 

Increasing interest in net-zero energy building and could be driving the increased investment in on-site renewable and electric, officials said. Fifty-four percent of respondents stated their companies are planning to achieve near-zero, net zero or energy-positive status for at least one building within the next 10 years by investing in on-site renewable and electric storage. Maintaining critical operations during severe weather events or extended power outages is most important for 71 percent of respondents when considering infrastructure investments. Over the next decade, 52 percent of respondents say they are most likely to have one or more facilities able to operate off the grid.

“While the survey was completed before the recent wave of hurricanes, it shows the growing attention being paid to resilience,” said Rod Rushing, North America building solutions division president at Johnson Controls. “Smart, sustainable buildings served by distributed energy resources and energy storage can provide the added security that building owners are looking for around the globe.”

Fifty-two percent of respondents said that government policy is a significant factor for investment. The majority of those who replied ranked building performance benchmarking, certification and government leaderships in leasing, building design and retrofits as very or extremely important for effective policies that drive energy improvement investments.

“Benchmarking and certification of building performance are important drivers of investment and improvement,” said Clay Nesler, vice president of global energy and sustainability at Johnson Controls. “Programs like EnergyStar and green building rating systems provide a means of measuring and comparing building performance while providing recognition for efforts to improve efficiency, health, comfort, productivity and other outcomes.”

With smart buildings becoming increasingly popular, 46 percent of respondents said that they invested in building systems integration last year with more than 80 percent planning to integrate the systems in the future. The top four building systems that are integrated with other building systems include energy management (43 percent), lighting (43 percent), security (40 percent) and life safety (38 percent).