As the world races to meet critical climate targets, new research from Johnson Controls (NYSE: JCI), the global leader in smart, healthy and sustainable buildings, and Forrester Consulting reveals some of the biggest opportunities and immediate needs for business leaders looking to advance sustainability commitments.
With buildings representing some 40% of global emissions, decarbonising the built environment is one of the fastest paths to meeting net zero targets globally, and essential for many businesses with 2030 carbon reduction goals.
The landmark survey shows widespread acceptance that sustainability is a business priority and a firm recognition that partners are essential to realising 2030 sustainability commitments.
“For leaders looking to quickly advance their net zero journey and make a real impact on global carbon reduction, buildings are the key enabler,” said Johnson Controls Chairman and CEO George Oliver.
“This new research shows decision-makers around the world understand sustainable buildings are better for the balance sheet and external partners are invaluable in optimising buildings and measuring environmental impact.
“Solutions exist today that can remove the need for upfront capital, digitalise a building’s systems to provide actionable data, electrify systems to accelerate the energy transition, and create positive cash flow. These are immediate solutions we can all adopt now as we respond to a changing climate and work to reduce carbon emissions.”
The survey of nearly 3,500 respondents representing 25 countries and 18 industries shows that sustainability is one of their three top business priorities.
Among decision-makers on sustainability initiatives specifically – a subset of 1,500 respondents – two thirds report they are fully on track to meet their carbon reduction goals while one third realise they need to accelerate their efforts to meet 2030 net zero goals.
Respondents report that smart buildings are important in helping their organisations accelerate sustainability initiatives (69%) and that adding or upgrading building automation (56%) and digital technologies to optimise energy use (42%) are among the most impactful sustainability investment areas.
Technologies exist that can digitalise a building’s systems multiply energy, emissions, and cost savings, and can even create net-energy-positive solutions. Some 10% of respondents have already fully integrated their buildings systems and equipment to realise these benefits.
Vast majorities of leaders seek partners who can provide a digital platform across sites and use cases (74%) that is easy to use for cross-departmental teams (67%) and is integrated into all building systems (70%).
These partnerships solve two key problems for these leaders – 73% percent of sustainability leaders say their organisations lack the technical expertise to optimise building systems from insights collected while 40% lack the internal skills to measure their environmental impact.
“We cannot decarbonise the planet without decarbonising buildings. This research shows that we’re at a tipping point where sustainability is a top business priority and companies are aggressively pursuing their net zero targets but are also actively seeking partners to help accelerate those efforts,” said Katie McGinty, vice president and chief sustainability and external relations officer at Johnson Controls.
“Working with partners to rapidly deploy smart building technology not only cuts waste but strengthens the bottom line. It’s also increasingly becoming a regulatory imperative, an expectation of stakeholders, and a differentiator for attracting talent. Smarter, more sustainable building solutions are immediate steps leaders can implement to make a difference on climate change.”