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EMAIL INTERVIEW - Clay Nesler & Ken Sinclair
Clay Nesler is the vice president of Global Energy and Sustainability for the Building Efficiency business of Johnson Controls. In this role, he is responsible for energy and sustainability strategy, policy, marketing and innovation on a global basis.
Annual Energy Efficiency Indicator Survey
A survey of North American decision makers who are responsible for managing, reviewing or monitoring energy use within their organizations.
Sinclair: What is the annual Energy Efficiency Indicator Survey?
Nesler: For the third consecutive year, Johnson Controls partnered with the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) to commission a survey of North American decision makers who are responsible for managing, reviewing or monitoring energy use within their organizations. The survey examines trends in their attitudes, priorities, concerns, organizational policies, and investment plans for energy management. The survey sample includes a variety of roles, such as CEOs, VPs, real estate leaders and facility managers from a wide array of industries and organization sizes. Approximately 1,400 people responded to the survey.
Sinclair: Based on the survey results, what do these turbulent economic times mean for the level of importance executives place on energy efficiency?
Nesler: Interest in energy efficiency has never been higher, even despite the recession. Seventy-one percent of respondents said they are now paying more attention to energy efficiency than last year. Ninety-three percent said energy efficiency is a priority in new construction or retrofit projects, up from 88 percent in 2008 and 77 percent in 2007.
These 2009 findings highlight the fact that business leaders are more and more aware of the need for energy efficiency, and its potential to reduce operating costs while cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
Sinclair: Any insight as to the motivation for this level of attention?
Nesler: Like last year, there was about a 50/50 split between cost savings and environmental responsibility as the motivation for energy management initiatives. Climate change is a particularly strong driver. Over the last three years of the survey, we’ve seen an increase in the number of companies making publicly stated carbon-reduction goals. This year we found that, of those companies making such commitments, 45 percent said their top carbon reduction strategy going forward is improving the energy efficiency of their buildings. This strategy far outweighed others such as purchasing carbon offsets, investing in on-site renewable energy, or using alternative transportation fuels.
Sinclair: This survey is unique in asking respondents to specify their investment plans and the financial criteria used in making energy efficiency investment decisions. How do investment plans compare with those in prior years?
Nesler: Not surprisingly, companies were holding back on energy efficiency investments in early 2009. Compared to last year, we saw a 10 percent drop in the number of organizations expecting to make any efficiency improvements using capital budgets, and a six percent drop in those planning to invest in energy efficiency out of operating budgets. Nearly 50 percent of those surveyed require a payback period that is less than three years.
Sinclair: Why this disconnect between the importance of energy efficiency and the level of investment planned?
Nesler: Other results from the survey suggest that investment is being limited by uncertainties regarding future energy prices, anticipated regulation, and the availability of incentives from utilities and governments.
For the first time this year, we asked those surveyed to identify the top barrier to capturing potential energy savings for their company/organization. Limited availability of capital was far and away the most frequent response, surpassing others including a lack of dedicated attention/ownership, split incentives between landlords and tenants, and the availability of technical expertise.
Sinclair: How do you expect the results to change next year?
Nesler: The results indicate that business leaders are expecting new policies and regulations that will stimulate additional energy efficiency investment. Eighty-five percent stated that legislation mandating energy efficiency and/or carbon reduction is likely within the next two years, up from 76 percent in 2008. Seventy-nine percent view efficiency incentives as highly influential in their purchase decisions, a four percent increase from last year.
We believe demand for, and investment in, energy efficiency will surge in 2010 as result of government stimulus programs, decreased uncertainty surrounding climate regulation, and rising energy prices.
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