Companies growing focus on cutting energy use

Cutting power use is an increasing goal for companies around the world. (Steve Hockstein/Bloomberg)

Cutting power use is an increasing goal for companies around the world. (Steve Hockstein/Bloomberg)

Maybe it seems obvious, but a study of more than 3,000 organizations from around the world found that companies, schools and other facilities that set energy efficiency goals are far more likely to implement energy-saving measures than those that do not.

They’re also more likely to increase their investments next year, according to the 2013 Energy Efficiency Indicator study conducted by the Johnson Controls Institute for Building Efficiency.

The study has been conducted every year since 2006. This year showed an increase in the number of organizations working to improve efficiency, drawing responses from commercial, industrial and institutional facilities in 10 countries.

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The most common measures included cutting back on electricity use for lighting and air conditioning, along with use of smart grid and smart building technology.

Energy efficiency isn’t glamorous, but it’s often cited as one of the most important ways of helping control energy costs.

Money is at the heart of the issue: Companies said cost-savings was the top reason for their moves, but also the greatest barrier to moving further.

Other reasons the executives gave for enhancing energy efficiency included increasing the value of real estate holdings and “enhanced brand or public image,” according to the study.

Globally, 64 percent of organizations reported they had carbon reduction goals in 2013 and 73 percent had energy reduction goals, according to the study. But fewer than half of those organizations had made the goals public.

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The Johnson Controls study found organizations that set goals, whether internal or public, made “significantly” more efficiency investments than those that do not set goals. But if found that making a goal public pushes the commitment farther.

Of organizations with no goals, 55 percent had invested in energy efficiency, while 88 percent with an internal goal had done so. But 95 percent of organizations with a publicly stated goal invested in energy efficiency.

The same theory carries through plans to invest in energy efficiency next year. Just 26 percent of executives at organizations with no energy efficiency goals said they expect to do so, compared with 56 percent at organizations with an internal goal and 72 percent at organizations with a publicly stated goal.