Just 35 per cent of buildings in the UK are sustainable – despite the growing importance of environmental, social, and corporate targets for building decision-makers – according to a report launched by Johnson Controls.
The findings cast doubt on UK organisations’ net zero and sustainability aspirations – as over half (54 per cent) say smart tech will make their buildings more eco-friendly, but just 34 per cent of UK buildings are fitted with smart technologies.
According to the report, the biggest roadblocks were budget shortfalls (64 per cent) and difficulty getting support and buy-in from senior leaders (42 per cent).
If the UK is to reach its ambitious 2030 and 2050 sustainability targets, building owners and managers must make hasty changes, states the report.
Other key findings from the study reveal that health and safety is the biggest priority for building decision-makers over the next year, with more than half (59 per cent) labelling it a priority as employees return to the office, versus just 16 per cent who prioritise profits.
In 10 years’ time, sustainability and net zero targets will overtake to become the biggest priority (49 per cent).
This comes as the vast majority (87 per cent) relied on smart tech to keep their buildings safe during the pandemic – one in three (37 per cent) described it as critical or essential.
Commercial office space leaders have a budget shortfall of more than £1.4 million and thus struggle to get the most from their smart tech, while higher education institutions need an extra £300,000 to make ends meet.
Owing to the success of smart technology during the pandemic, two-thirds (64 per cent) of building decision-makers are either more likely to invest in smart technology or have concrete plans to invest.
Andy Ellis, vice-president and general manager, Johnson Controls UK&I, said: “Smart buildings haven’t only helped businesses get through the pandemic – they’re also essential to achieving ambitious sustainability targets like carbon net zero."
Ellis added: “Smart solutions that integrate with your fire, security, controls, HVAC, and occupancy systems can look across a whole building to see in real time where efficiencies can be made. Without technologies like these to do the hard work for building staff, achieving new levels of sustainability targets and creating healthy workspaces – that support both the environment and employees – will be hard.”
The report was commissioned by Johnson Controls in April 2021 to uncover how smart buildings helped the UK & Ireland through the Covid-19 pandemic and how smart technology would be used to help organisations and the country reach their goals in the future. The survey was conducted among 100 building decision-makers across the UK & Ireland. Industries covered include central government, large scale healthcare, pharmaceutical, higher education and wider commercial real estate, such as retail and banking. All respondents came from organisations with 500-plus employees. The interviews were conducted by Sapio Research through an online survey.