Improving energy efficiency in buildings is the top European strategy for reducing carbon footprints, according to a new study from Johnson Controls, and the resulting cost savings paired with government incentives are what is driving energy efficiency initiatives. The report, “2011 Energy Efficiency Indicator Study: European Regional Results Summary,” surveyed 857 private- and public-sector leaders responsible for energy-related decisions for nonresidential buildings in six of Europe’s largest economies: the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Poland and Italy.
Respondents ranked energy cost savings as the no. 1 influencer on energy efficiency decisions in both 2010 and 2011, while government and utility incentives ranked second, up from no. 6 in 2010. Additionally, nearly 3 in 4 decision-makers (73 percent) believe the price of energy will increase over the next 12 months.
A growing number of respondents – 61 percent versus 55 percent in 2010 – indicated that energy management was either “extremely important” or “very important” to their organizations. This is ahead of the expectation – held by 78 percent of respondents — that a national policy mandating energy efficiency or carbon reductions is likely within the next two years.
The survey also found that improving energy efficiency in buildings is a top strategy for reducing an organization’s carbon footprint, but a lack of internal funding and technical expertise within organizations are among the top barriers to taking action. Some organizations reported that by seeking external financing they have successfully completed projects that produce deep energy savings.
For example, 55 percent looked for external financing for heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; 36 percent used financing for building enclosure improvements, such as roofs, insulation, windows and seals; 29 percent reviewed onsite renewable energy investments with external financing.
Overall, sustainable buildings are gaining traction among European facilities, with 32 percent of respondents having certified at least one green building and an additional 22 percent having incorporated green building elements.
Johnson Controls released the European EEI survey results during the second annual Energy Efficiency Forum, which focused on the steps necessary to achieve European Climate and Energy objectives, which include a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a 20 percent increase in energy savings by 2020. The survey is managed by the Institute for Building Efficiency, a Johnson Controls initiative.