Sustainability initiatives in buildings ramp up as climate change action accelerates

Umar Khan, general manager of energy, sustainability and smart cities, Honeywell Building Technologies, Middle East, Türkiye and Africa 

Globally, agendas to reduce carbon emissions are picking up pace. Later this year, a global stock-take of actions towards carbon reduction commitments will take place at the Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP28) in Dubai. In anticipation, governments are ramping up initiatives and this is filtering through to the private sector and corporations as they look to their meet enhanced Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) targets.

To understand where organizations are in their ESG journey and to enable the alignment of optimized services, Honeywell and Reuters recently undertook research to understand progress. The research revealed key priorities for multinational organizations in the face of increasing pressure to incorporate building operations into sustainability plans.

The research highlighted three key sustainability objectives of organizations. These include improving energy efficiency and indoor air quality and meeting ESG timeframes. The main finding of the report showed that 87% of respondents state that reducing the carbon footprint of their building portfolio is either extremely or somewhat important in relation to their overall ESG goals. While globally, respondents seem generally optimistic in forecasting progress toward their goals, with 62% of those surveyed expecting to reach carbon neutrality by 2035 and more than 90% expecting to achieve that goal across their portfolios by 2050.

In the Middle East, there is a strong sustainability momentum driven the strategic objectives of regional governments. Governments across the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have announced broad carbon reduction plans and are seeing organizations boost ESG goals in support of these national visions which outline plans for reaching carbon neutrality by 2050-2060. Some of the key business benefits of increased sustainability efforts highlighted by the researched organizations include complying with external regulations and investor demands (90%), increasing productivity and realizing cost reductions (84%) and improving brand image (60%). Meanwhile, some of the few remaining barriers to sustainability efforts highlighted include managing costs (88%), measuring sustainability or a lack of expertise (60%) and gaining senior leadership support (50%).

The importance of improving building operations reinforces the emphasis organizations are placing on sustainability as detailed in the latest Environmental Sustainability Index by Honeywell[i], a quarterly global survey that captures key trends in corporate sustainability initiatives and other efforts to mitigate climate change. This survey results are aligned with the latest Honeywell-Reuters report, showing that organizations are increasingly taking a balanced approach to sustainability initiatives and 88% have increased their related budgets for the coming 12 months (2023).

Today, companies are investing strategically to accelerate carbon reduction efforts and improve overall building performance. Underlined by this trend, Honeywell’s technology is already transforming the world. We are dedicated to driving the transformation to a sustainable future and we’re well on our way to delivering on our commitment to make all our facilities and operations carbon neutral by 2035.

[i] Honeywell, Environmental Sustainability Index, Q1 2023.