Energy Use a ‘Major Factor’ in Investment Decisions for 63% of Building Sector

Energy usage plays an important role in most building-sector companies’ investment decisions, and is a major factor for 63 percent of survey respondents, according to an Economist Intelligence Unit report.

Energy efficiency and energy savings: a view from the building sector, also found the majority of companies are replacing inefficient lighting (57 percent), HVAC systems (50 percent) and building insulation (50 percent) with more energy-efficient products. Four in 10 are taking this a step further and rethinking their buildings’ design to maximize natural light.

In preparing the report, commissioned by the Global Buildings Performance Network, the Economist Intelligence Unit surveyed 423 senior executives from the residential real estate, building construction, commercial real estate and the industrial real estate sectors in the US, Europe, India and China. It says geographically, respondents were evenly split, and about half of the firms posted revenues over $500 million.

The Economist Intelligence Unit also conducted in-depth interviews with senior executives, and says they say “green” buildings give them a marketing advantage.

Other key findings:

  • Some 69 percent of companies use energy efficiency as a risk-management tool.
  • Half of respondents say that the maximum payback time for energy efficiency investments is five or more years.
  • Many companies underestimate the financial significance of their energy consumption. Only 31 percent audit their energy use, and two-thirds of respondents substantially overestimate the cost of constructing energy-efficient buildings.

The report says policymakers can and should promote energy efficiency across the building sector. Seventy-five percent of respondents say current energy-efficiencies laws benefit the building sector, and 34 percent say a lack of enforcement is the no. 1 obstacle to investing in energy-efficient retrofits.

Additionally, 68 percent of companies say cap-and-trade or carbon taxes are helpful, and the same percentage says global agreements limiting GHGs would create a level playing field.

An American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) report published last week says that, as the manufacturing sector continues to capture many of the low- and no-cost energy improvement opportunities, future improvements will be increasingly linked to industry’s capital investment activity.

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