Survey: Owners of commercial properties want to increase energy efficiency

June 18, 2012

Commercial building owners are increasingly looking to install energy efficient technologies and systems into their properties, as cutting costs and consumption have been identified as ways to attract high-paying tenants.

A new survey from the Institute for Building Efficiency at Johnson Controls Inc. outlined how these owners are looking to tax credits, incentives and rebates to help fund retrofit projects and install this new technology into their properties.

The survey found that 85 percent of these owners rely on energy management to increase the operational efficiency of their building. This represented an increase of 34 percent from the research that was conducted two years ago.

"This year's survey demonstrates there's a change under way," said Dave Myers, president of the Milwaukee-based building efficiency business of Johnson Controls, in a statement. "The mantra for commercial real estate owners used to be location, location, location. Now it's becoming location, efficiency, location."

The research highlighted how specific projects, like the Empire State Building retrofit, led to significant savings for building owners, as this example was outlined in a presentation at the North American Energy Efficiency Forum.

While many building owners want to adopt technology like smart grid systems and other energy-monitoring and -controlling devices, they often lack the financial backing for such a project, according to the survey.

"Nearly 75% of commercial buildings in the United States are more than 20 years old and are ready for energy improvements. Building owners and operators are looking to lawmakers to bring down the cost of energy retrofits through incentives and rebates," Myers said. "In Asia, building codes and equipment standards also are helping ensure new buildings are constructed to high performance levels."

This is why the U.S. government, in particular the Department of Energy, have started projects to help incentivize the adoption of certain building technology and practices.

According to a release, companies like Greenwood Energy have committed $50 million to the DOE's better buildings challenge. This initiative calls on top business leaders, university presidents and government leaders to make a commitment to energy efficiency in properties.

The DOE designated an innovation Hub to promote the use of more sustainable practices for buildings, as the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub) looks to change the sector from its headquarters in Philadelphia.