ConstructionPro Week, Volume: Construction Advisor Today - Issue: 133 - 11/11/2011

IFMA Reports Increased Emphasis on Energy Efficiency

Three out of five surveyed International Facility Management Association (IFMA) members have reported that they are paying more attention to energy efficiency than they did a year ago. This finding and others indicating an increased emphasis on energy efficiency among executives and buildings owners who have a hand in energy management and investment decisions are included in the fifth-annual Energy Efficiency Indicator report that IFMA recently released.


Roughly one-quarter of 631 IFMA members responding to the survey indicated that they are “paying a lot more attention now” to energy efficiency than a year ago. A larger share, 35 percent, reported that they are “paying a little more attention now” to energy efficiency. Slightly more than one-third (37 percent) of IFMA survey participants responded that they are “paying about the same attention now” to energy efficiency. Only 3 percent of respondents indicated that they are either paying less attention now or “don’t know.” 


Administered by Johnson Controls in partnership with IFMA, the Urban Land Institute, and 30 partners worldwide, the survey polled global executives and building owners who are responsible for energy management and investment decisions in commercial and public-sector buildings. The survey tracked their priorities, practices, investment plans, and financial evaluation criteria to understand what projects they are implementing as well as the solution drivers and barriers they face. This year, the survey reached a record number of nearly 4,000 respondents, representing 24 industry sectors and 13 countries on six continents.


“Several key indicators tested in the EEI survey show that energy was on the minds of decision-makers,” according to IFMA, citing the following other survey findings:


  • 66 percent of respondents reported that energy was “extremely important” or “very important” to their organization.
  • 97 percent of respondents stated that they had taken actions to reduce energy use during the past year.
  • 96 percent of respondents indicated that they had invested in energy projects.
  • 45 percent of respondents said they had a goal to reduce energy use.


Nearly one-third of surveyed IFMA members had at least one green-certified building, and an additional 42 percent of respondents reported having buildings with green elements. The percentage of IFMA participants managing green-certified buildings has nearly tripled in three years (2008-2011). This year was the first time that more respondents reported pursuing green certification for existing projects than for new construction.


IFMA Official Provides Additional Details to GBI

In an email interview with Green Building Insider, IFMA Research Director Shari Epstein provided the following additional details about the survey:


GBI: What would you say are the 3-4 the most important results from the survey?


Epstein: IFMA members continued to identify improving energy efficiency in their buildings as the top strategy for reducing their organizations’ greenhouse-gas-emissions footprint. Fifty-five percent -- the highest ever -- rated that as the top strategy versus 39 percent of the global sample. Other top strategies among IFMA members included alternative workplace strategies such as telecommuting (7 percent), installing onsite renewable energy systems (5 percent), and consolidation of the real estate portfolio.



IFMA members were actively pursuing opportunities to reduce energy consumption in their facilities. Out of 52 possible types of projects, more than three-fourths had switched to efficient lighting equipment while smaller numbers had upgraded building envelopes or installed renewable energy systems.








GBI: What findings surprised you the most, and what emerging trends are you noticing?

Epstein: The rise in green-certified buildings is notable. Nearly one-third of IFMA members had at least one green-certified building, and an additional 42 percent had buildings with green elements. The percentage of IFMA participants managing green-certified buildings has nearly tripled in three years (2008-2011). This year was also the first time more respondents were pursuing green certification for existing projects than for new construction.


Here is an emerging trend: a gradual increase in the time frame acceptable for the payback period of energy efficiency expenditures. It was common to hear “if it doesn’t pay back in three years, we won’t consider it.” But now it appears that companies are willing to accept a longer time period, an average of four years, for a return on investment.

Among IFMA members, the median maximum allowable payback period for energy-efficiency investments was close to four years. About 60 percent of IFMA members expected to see efficiency investments pay back in less than four years.


Also of note is the increased number of facility professionals certifying existing buildings, and this is also an emerging trend. Another trend we’re seeing is the setting of carbon reduction goals, which shows businesses are actively trying to reduce their carbon footprints. 

GBI: Could you elaborate on the methodology that was used for this survey in terms of when it was conducted, how potential respondents were contacted, and which countries were targeted?

Epstein: The survey was administered through the Internet by independent provider The respondents were energy management decision makers. Specifically, to qualify for the survey, respondents had to 1) Have budget responsibility for their organizations' or customers' facilities; 2) have job responsibilities that include reviewing or monitoring the amount of energy used by their organization’s facilities, or proposing or approving initiatives to make their organization’s facilities more energy efficient.

This was the second year the EEI survey was conducted globally, and it targeted significant numbers of respondents in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Poland, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States. There were additional respondents in Brazil and South Africa, for a total of 13 countries with significant representation. The survey was administered in eight languages. Respondents across the world included executives and facilities professionals from a wide range of facility types, sizes, and locations.
This report focuses on the responses of IFMA members from 2007 to 2011 but also includes the 2011 responses for the entire global sample for comparison. A total of 632 IFMA members participated in the survey compared to 491 in 2010, 418 in 2009, 338 in 2008, and 449 in 2007. 
Throughout the report, ‘Don’t know’ responses have been excluded from some questions. Therefore, for questions in which a single response was required, the total of the responses may add up to less than 100 percent. 
Where applicable, 2011 results are compared with those for 2007-2010. However, because new questions have been added or modifications made each year, comparative data is not available for all questions for the five-year period.

GBI: How will the results likely be used and by which types of professionals? Are congressional lawmakers likely to reference the findings of this study in deliberating on their energy-efficiency-related legislation?


Epstein: We feed this information back to our members through free reports because we realize that our members have a major impact on how energy is used. The EEI report, in fact, was last year’s most frequently downloaded report. As far as congressional lawmakers are concerned, we are fortunate to have members in Congress who do rely on our research and cite it in their efforts to get certain energy efficiency and credentialing legislation passed. IFMA, as you may know, is a member of the High-Performance Buildings Congressional Caucus Coalition, which in turn provides statistics and other information to the High-Performance Buildings Congressional Caucus. More information is available here:
Russ Carnahan, one of the co-chairs of the caucus, also recently quoted our own president and chief executive officer, Tony Keane, in a press release announcing legislation he introduced last Friday, Nov. 4. We link to it on our website here:

GBI: Other comments?

Epstein: Each year we see a lot of attention drawn to these results as they provide a good indication of what facility managers are capable of doing with limited resources. Many facility professionals acknowledge there is far more that can be done, but time, labor, training and investment capital come at a premium. Many of the improvements they have implemented can result in reduced energy consumption and lower energy costs in a very short period of time.

To access the report, visit



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