Greater energy efficiency, better indoor air quality (IAQ) and meeting environmental, social and governance (ESG) guidelines are three objectives currently prioritised by multinational organisations as they face increasing pressure to incorporate their building operations into their sustainability plans. These are among the key findings of a report ‘The Growing Importance of Sustainability in Buildings‘ by Honeywell and Reuters.
Nearly nine in 10 respondents (87 per cent) say that achieving carbon neutrality in their building portfolio is either extremely (58 per cent) or somewhat (29 per cent) important in relation to their overall ESG goals, with only four per cent of respondents calling it unimportant. The sense of urgency is understandable: commercial building operations currently account for 37 per cent of global energy-related CO2 emissions.
Manish Sharma, Vice President and General Manager of Sustainable Buildings at Honeywell, echoed this sentiment based on his ongoing conversations with current and prospective customers. He said: “If we fast-forward to 2025, I believe carbon neutrality will be one of the top priorities for organisations, driven partly by new carbon taxation plans and decarbonising incentives.”
While the surveyed organisations are feeling pressure to act, respondents seem generally optimistic in forecasting progress toward their goals. More than 90 per cent of those surveyed expect to achieve carbon neutrality across their portfolios by 2050, while 62 per cent expect to reach that goal by 2035. Notably, only eight per cent of respondents say they don’t foresee carbon neutrality ever becoming a reality for their portfolios.
Respondents also noted the business benefits of ramping up sustainability efforts across building portfolios. When asked which three of these benefits they valued most, they cited the following:
- Complying with external regulations and investor demands: 90 per cent; with more than 50 per cent of those surveyed ranking it number one
- Increasing productivity and realising cost reductions: 84 per cent
- Improving brand image: 60 per cent
Barriers creating concern:
Despite their optimism, those surveyed noted several significant barriers that impede their efforts. When asked which three obstacles most hinder progress, respondents reported the following:
- Managing costs: 88 per cent
- Measuring sustainability or a lack of expertise: 60 per cent
- Gaining senior leadership support: 50 per cent
The survey also revealed that companies are investing strategically to accelerate decarbonisation and improve overall building performance. While respondents note a wide range of specific efforts, a substantial majority (80 per cent) mention an on-site energy management system as one investment they’ve made to enhance the sustainability of their building operations.
Liam Dowd, Industry Lead – Sustainable Business, Reuters Professional commented: “Incorporating the way buildings operate into sustainability plans is an ongoing process with no fixed endpoint. While the organisations surveyed differ in how far they’ve progressed toward developing strategies and solutions to support this process, the first step is to benchmark the carbon output of buildings and define the current state of the portfolio.”
The importance of improving building operations reinforces the emphasis organisations are placing on sustainability as detailed in the recently launched Honeywell Environmental Sustainability Index, a quarterly global survey that captures key trends in corporate sustainability initiatives and other efforts to mitigate climate change. Sixty-five per cent of organisations surveyed in the Honeywell Environmental Sustainability index are prioritising sustainability above other initiatives and 48 per cent of surveyed organisations likely to increase sustainability budgets up to 20 per cent in the next 12 months.
To view the full Honeywell-Reuters report and survey results, click here.
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