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U.S. Offices Lag in Efficiency, Conservation

U.S. office buildings are not keeping pace with building automation, leading to lost productivity and added costs, according to a survey of U.S. office workers by IBM. Only 33 percent of respondents rated their office buildings “high” in terms of environmental responsibility.

Yet, the survey reveals that 65 percent of office workers want to help transform their offices into “greener” environments.

The survey shows that the city of Los Angeles is a clear winner in the “IBM Smarter Buildings” (PDF) study, which surveyed 6,486 office workers in 16 U.S. cities on issues ranging from office building automation and security to elevator reliability and conservation issues.

Los Angeles received the highest percentage of respondents who said their office buildings automatically sense when people are in a room and adjust lights and temperature accordingly (40 percent), and use renewable energy sources (22 percent) and products that promote improved air quality such as low VOC paint, sustainable carpet and bio-based cleaning fluids (35 percent).

Los Angeles also holds the top spot on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of cities with the most Energy Star labeled buildings. These buildings topped 76 million square feet of floor space with an estimated cost savings of $93.9 million.

Other key findings reveal that 79 percent of respondents said that they conserve resources such as water or electricity as part of their regular routine at work, although 75 percent noted they would be more likely to conserve resources at work if they were rewarded for the effort.

In terms of “green” features, 31 percent said their office buildings have low-flow toilets, 26 percent said that low emission and sustainable materials are used to promote improved indoor air quality in their office buildings, and 14 percent report that their office buildings use a renewable energy source.

Buildings account for nearly 40 percent of U.S. energy consumption and carbon emissions, according to the Department of Energy. To help boost building efficiency, seven federal agencies are creating an Energy Regional Innovation Cluster (E-RIC) centered around an Energy Innovation Hub that is focused on developing new technologies to improve the design of energy-efficient building systems.

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