More than half of U.S. companies to increase energy efficiency investment in 2015

Schneider Electric survey reveals acceleration in efficiency funding amid convergence of information technology and operational technologies.

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Three quarters of decision-makers at U.S. companies have invested in energy efficiency programs in the past 12 months, and 56% project their investment in energy efficiency next year will be greater than last year.

These are among the findings of a survey by Redshift Research fielded in August 2014 and commissioned by Schneider Electric. Results reflect the perspectives of 301 respondents at companies with at least $50 million in revenue with a decision-making role in facility management, operations management, technology management, supply chain management or energy/efficiency management.

In total, respondents reported a 12% increase in energy efficiency investments, while projected investments have increased 13% from the results of a similar survey in June 2013.

“Increased investment suggests business leaders are seeing a return,” said Laurent Vernerey, president and CEO, North America operations, Schneider Electric. “In fact, more than half (51%) of respondents said they realize at least a 25% ROI on efficiency initiatives. This type of return will drive more investment in efficiency applied across the enterprise – beyond energy consumption - as organizations find that they must become operationally efficient to remain competitive and profitable in today’s environment.”

The survey suggests a potential driver of investment is the ability to measure results, a capability rooted in the convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT). When asked about the biggest trends impacting business today, more than half (56%) of respondents cited this trend, with 61% saying that energy efficiency was its biggest benefit. Byproducts of increased efficiency, including cost reductions (48%) and optimized business processes (43%), were also reported as benefits.

However, respondents also acknowledged that this trend comes with its own set of challenges, including more complex technology management (55%), security (54%) and conflict between IT and operations staff (47%).

The survey also identified modernization as another issue at the top of decision-makers’ agenda. After IT and OT convergence, 51% of respondents cited infrastructure modernization as a business priority. A further 48% believed public infrastructure upgrades would make would positively impact their businesses, which breaks down into electrical systems (56%), traffic/transportation systems (53%) and telecommunications (48%).

Efficiency initiatives (12%) and sustainability demands (9%) rounded out the list of the biggest trends.

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