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Energy Efficiency Investment Remains Strong Despite Downturn

Investment in energy efficiency remained high last year despite the economic downturn, according to a survey conducted by Johnson Controls. Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports that financial institutions in particular are beginning to see the value of investments in energy efficiency.

According to Johnson Controls’ survey of more than 2,800 executives and managers, 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 U.S. (59 percent), Europe (55 percent) and India (45 percent).

Across all regions surveyed, energy management was considered an important priority among commercial decision-makers (92 percent). 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).

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. Eighty eight 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.

According to the FT report, financial institutions estimate that 40 percent of energy bills come from the cost of running data centers, an expense that can be greatly reduced through the use of more energy efficient technology and procedures. While solutions that are easy to implement have, for the most part, been achieved, solutions that require more substantive changes in behavior, like reducing air travel, have yet to be implemented.

In 2007, Bank of American announced a $20 billion commitment to address climate change, and has so far deployed $5.9 billion. It was recently named one of the country’s greenest banks, and its commercial office building in New York City recently became the largest LEED-platinum certified building. HSBC, meanwhile, became carbon neutral in 2005, offsetting its energy use with carbon credits.

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.

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