The findings of Johnson Controls' annual Energy Efficiency Indicator survey finds that more than half of organizations plan to increase investment in energy efficiency, renewable energy and smart building technology next year, comparable with investment trends after the 2010 recession.

Of the factors determining investment, according to the findings, 85% of respondents said that reducing energy costs was a very or extremely important driver of investment and more than three-quarters (76%) believe that protecting the health and safety of occupants during emergencies was a very or an extremely important driver of investment.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to improve the health and safety of buildings, particularly by increasing their ability to operate under different conditions, both planned and unforeseen,” said Clay Nesler, Vice President of Global Energy and Sustainability at Johnson Controls. “Though the pandemic has altered how people are investing in their buildings, occupant health and energy efficiency continue to be top of mind and we anticipate these investments will be a priority in 2021 as more people return to shared spaces.”

Despite reduced occupancy, the study found that facility energy use dropped surprisingly little during the pandemic, with less than 10% of facilities reducing energy use more than 20%.

As the world learns more about the spread of Covid-19 through aerosol transmission, indoor air quality has become one of the most pressing issues for facility managers to address. The survey found that 79% have already or are planning to increase air filtration, three-quarters have already or are planning to install an air treatment system and 72% have already or are planning to increase outdoor air ventilation rates.

Eight-one percent of respondents said that increasing the flexibility of facilities to quickly respond to a variety of emergency conditions was another very or extremely important driver of investment.

Further, in an increasingly digital world, the integration of systems has become more important than ever. Three-quarters (75%) of respondents’ organizations have invested in the integration of security systems with other building technology systems, a 36% increase from the 2019 study. And one-third of respondents (33%) plan to invest in the integration of building technology systems with distributed energy resources in the next year, a 15 percent increase over 2020.