Report on US energy use trends in buildings finds consumption declining while utility costs continue to rise

The overall cost of running a facility is 10% higher than it was just four years ago led by a dramatic increase in utility costs, according to results from a recent International Facility Management Association research report.

The study “Benchmarks V: Annual Facility Costs”, conducted by the international association for professional facility managers, shows that utility costs including electricity, gasoline, fuel oil, steam water and sewage have jumped by as much as 19% compared to similar data from 2006.

The increase in utility costs is happening at a time when energy consumption is down.

When compared to IFMA’s 2006 benchmarking figures, average electricity consumption (measured in kBTUs per ft²) has dropped from 93 to 81, while gas consumption has remained constant at 35 kBTUs per ft².

This decrease in energy usage could be attributed to companies implementing energy conservation practices, lighting improvements and equipment upgrades at their facilities.

Shari Epstein, IFMA associate director of research, said: “In recent years, many organisations have invested in their electrical and mechanical systems to make them more energy efficient.

“Performing simple measures such as installing occupancy sensors, adjusting heating and air conditioning controls and performing preventive maintenance checks to keep equipment running efficiently can make a measurable impact in reducing energy consumption.”

Based on a survey of 1,032 facility professionals from across the US, the new report covers a variety of costs, including lease, maintenance, housekeeping, security, environmental, recycling, waste disposal and space planning. The costs are on an annual basis and are displayed as dollars per ft².

Many of the costs are further broken down by industry, facility type and geographic region.

Epstein said: “In years past, organisations could generate a little income from recycling paper, cans and cardboard materials.

“With the current emphasis on sustainability, more organizations are stepping up their recycling efforts even though it comes at an increased operational cost.”