Acuity Brands, Inc. recently released its second annual State of Energy Management report, which offers the insights and trends identified by more than 240 energy, facility, and sustainability leaders during an unprecedented year. The report is sponsored by Acuity Brands through its BuildingOS energy management information software team, with research support from Smart Energy Decisions, an industry-leading information resource dedicated to addressing the needs of large electric power customers.

Among the report’s key findings, respondents projected that occupancy for the spaces they manage will see a 44-point decrease for January 2021 compared to January 2020, due to the impact of COVID-19 on facility use. In connection with this reduced occupancy, respondents anticipate an increased need for higher efficiency HVAC systems and the ability to remotely manage energy programs to address occupancy reductions and other challenges as they adapt system wide performance.

“This past year has shown many industries that it is no longer enough to focus on ‘set it and forget it’ energy efficiency tasks,” said Acuity Brands Lighting’s Sarah Diegnan, Vice President of Customer Success and Operations – Atrius Enterprise Solutions. “Instead, the focus must continue to shift toward operational efficiency by automating manual, time-intensive tasks. This will allow teams to spend more time on higher value activities that have a direct impact on top line growth. An Energy Management Information System (EMIS) enables energy teams to begin this transformation by providing the framework critical for designing processes to maximize building performance, the ability to track and report out on program success and continuously optimize building systems. With an EMIS in place, energy teams can focus on the activities needed to power their organizations safely and cost-effectively.”

Additional topline survey findings include:

• Among those surveyed, 91 percent said reducing energy, water, and waste consumption remains a top priority for the new year.
• The top three requirements for managing building performance and protecting occupant health are higher efficiency HVAC (87%), better lighting (79%), and improved access to analytics derived from actionable data (77%).
• The most significant barriers to successfully implementing an EMIS solution include the lack of time to review findings (19%) and the costs of upgrading or adding new meters (17%). Respondents also noted how limited internal support for an EMIS complicates funding (18%).

“Several interesting shifts in responses came up when we compared the 2020 State of Energy Management report to the 2019 report,” said John Failla, Founder and Editorial Director, Smart Energy Decisions. “For example, the number of teams manually collecting data has shrunk to 41% in 2020 compared to 55% in 2019. While a positive shift, a large number of teams still rely on manual instead of automated data collection, proving there’s room for significant increase for adoption of building management systems and automation. In addition, 23 percent of respondents in 2020 said they were submetering data for greater building performance visibility, a 9-point increase from last year’s survey, indicating advancement in their energy optimization journey.”

Click here to check out the full report.