Energy. There's no denying you have heard, read or watched a story about it in the last 12- to 24-hours. As time goes on and momentum from consumers demanding new and better ways to produce energy, more and more companies are taking advantage of the economic and transactional advantages of efficiency, especially those decision makers outside the U.S. who appear to realize the current and future impact of sustainability on property values. A new survey, by the Energy Efficiency Indicator (EEI) released by Johnson Controls, a global leader in delivering products, services and solutions that increase energy efficiency in buildings, shows that investment levels in energy efficiency have remained strong despite a global recession. The survey of more than 2,800 executives and managers responsible for making investments and managing energy in commercial buildings worldwide found that 56 percent of respondents say they have invested the same or more in energy efficiency over the last 12 months. A regional comparison indicates that respondents have invested the same or more in energy efficiency in China (60 percent), followed by the United States (59 percent), Europe (55 percent) and India (45 percent).

"These survey results indicate the growing importance on having energy efficient buildings that are cost effective and sustainable," said Dave Myers, president, Building Efficiency, Johnson Controls. "Our business continues to work collaboratively with our customers to help them to address their requirements and achieve measurable and desirable outcomes." Across all regions surveyed, energy management is considered an important priority among commercial decision-makers (92 percent). Notably, respondents from India (85 percent) and China (80 percent) were more likely to consider energy management very or extremely important as compared to those in Europe (55 percent) and North America (53 percent).

"Despite the recession, decision-makers have put efficiency high on their agendas for 2010, especially those in India and China," said Clay Nesler, vice president, Global Energy and Sustainability, Johnson Controls. "It's encouraging to see that the financial returns and environmental benefits of energy efficiency investments are recognized in all regions around the world." The EEI tracks energy management priorities, practices and investment plans among decision-makers responsible for managing commercial buildings and their energy use. Johnson Controls has conducted the EEI survey in North America for the last four years. This year marks the first time a global survey has been conducted across Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Poland, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States.

While motivations differ from region to region, cost savings is consistently the most important factor driving investments with 97 percent of respondents identifying it as significant. "It comes as no surprise that global business leaders are looking for responsible ways to cut energy costs. On average, the survey found that decision-makers expect a nine percent energy price increase over the next year," said Nesler. "88 percent of respondents believe energy prices will rise in China, compared with 79 percent in India, 68 percent in Europe, and 64 percent in North America." After cost savings, lowering greenhouse gas emissions (74 percent) is the second most important motivator for energy efficiency in all regions except North America, where boosting public image (63 percent) and taking advantage of government/utility incentives (62 percent) rank higher in importance.

"In contrast to other regions, existing legislation was one of the top three factors in Europe. We believe it is indicative of the region's leadership in energy and climate legislation compared to other parts of the world where the prospect for binding legislation remains uncertain," said Nesler.

Globally, 63 percent of respondents plan to make capital investments in energy efficiency and 70 percent plan operating budget expenditures in efficiency programs over the next 12 months. Eighty-five percent plan to make efficiency a priority in their new construction and retrofit projects.

A total of 2,882 decision-makers were surveyed worldwide during March and April of 2010, including CEOs, CFOs, real estate leaders and facility managers from a range of organizations including small businesses, global corporations and the public sector. Just what will it take for American survey numbers to rise? So far, even the largest oil spill in our country's history doesn't appear to be enough. Only time will tell.

[Note: The survey was managed by the Johnson Controls Institute for Building Efficiency, a new initiative of Johnson Controls, providing information and analysis of technologies, policies, and practices for efficient, high performance buildings and smart energy systems around the world, www.johnsoncontrols.com/InstituteBE].

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