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Planned investment in energy efficiency by businesses is expected to rebound in 2010, according to a new survey of more than 1,400 executives and managers in North America responsible for spending on such technology in commercial buildings.

The survey found that 52 percent (up from 46 percent last year) said they plan to make capital investments in energy efficiency and that 60  percent (up from 55 percent last year) are planning to make operating budget expenditures on energy efficiency programs over the next 12 months.

And the survey also found that 65 percent of business leaders say they are paying more attention to energy efficiency than they were one year ago.

The big obstacle? Money. Of the business leaders surveyed, 38 percent said the biggest barrier to making investments to improve energy efficiency is limited capital availability.

“Our research shows attention to energy efficiency is continuing its growth among business leaders,” says Dave Myers, president of Johnson Controls Building Efficiency business, in a statement. The Johnson Controls Energy Efficiency Indicator survey was conducted for Johnson Controls, one of the companies which recently announced a partnership with IBM to further Smart Buildings.

“Commercial buildings consume 18 percent of the energy and 35 percent of electricity used in the U.S. each year," he said. "A focus on improving energy efficiency in existing buildings is the best way to address carbon reduction goals being set by a growing number of organizations.”

But saving money is also the big driver of such efforts.

The most important factor influencing energy efficiency decisions is energy cost savings, with 97 percent of respondents identifying it as significant. That may be even more important because 64 percent expect energy prices to rise in 2010. Overall the average expectation of respondents is a 7 percent increase in the combined price of energy over the next 12 months.

The next most important factors influencing energy efficiency decisions are
enhanced public image at 63 percent,

  • government and utility incentives at 62 percent,
  • and reducing greenhouse gas emissions at 62 percent (This climate concern is growing in importance, up from 57 percent that considered greenhouse gas reduction a significant factor in 2009.)

Johnson Controls executives have told Channel Insider that ultimately IT organizations will incorporate facilities management into their areas of expertise as the two departments merge.

Johnson Controls has been conducting the survey in conjunction with the International Facility Management Association and the American Society of Healthcare Engineering for the last four years.

This year’s survey effort contacted a total of 1,435 decision-makers in North America between February 23 and March 15, including CEOs, CFOs, real estate leaders and facility managers from a range of organizations including small businesses, global corporations and the public sector.