Addressing the State of Public Buildings Around the World

    Buildings at the backbone of developed markets around the world are in urgent need of serious upgrades. In the United States, many buildings relied on for basic needs like schools, courthouses and fire stations were built over six decades ago[i].

    This is a global issue. Across the European Union, a similar picture is painted with over a third of buildings constructed more than 50 years ago; nearly 75% of buildings suffer from energy inefficiencies, but only 1% undergo renovations each year[ii]. In developed cities across Asia-Pacific, over 72% of buildings require some type of optimization to remain relevant[iii].

    Plagued by years of deferred maintenance and scarce funding, the public buildings space has reached a critical point. As technologies and building functionality continue to advance, many public buildings across the world have not been able to keep up.

    The need to address the state of public buildings has become increasingly important as we consider their impact on our overall well-being and the environment. It’s time to bring public buildings up to speed on all fronts: making them energy efficient, reducing their environmental impact, improving safety and security, and enhancing the experience of people who rely on these buildings daily.

    Current State of Public Buildings – A Spotlight on Schools

    In 2021, U.S. schools received a D+ on the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) report card[iv]. The report found that 53% of school districts need to update or replace multiple building systems and an investment of $38 billion is needed to provide students and staff with a healthier, safer, and more modern learning environment.

    As more schools begin on their sustainability journey, there are significant opportunities for improvement across campuses, as it’s estimated that schools are responsible for producing the same amount of carbon emissions as 15 million cars each year [v].

    Unfortunately, school leaders and public officials are often forced to defer all but critical building maintenance because of a lack of essential resources and more urgent priorities. As a result, many public schools continue to deteriorate while facility teams are expected to keep decades-old systems operational.

    Turning a corner on funding opportunities

    New and continuing federal programs can help state and local governments address infrastructure needs, fund energy retrofits and upgrade public buildings. These include financial support for energy improvements and safety upgrades in school buildings [vi] and grants to help enhance public building performance[vii].

    Recent legislation, like the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), has created funding to help improve the nation’s aging infrastructure. At the same time, schools can leverage the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to help support clean energy projects[viii].

    Across the E.U, the European Green Deal hopes to improve the efficiency of 35 million buildings through incentives and investments for private and government buildings[ix].

    Beyond government funding, public officials may find opportunities in energy savings performance contracts (ESPCs). This mechanism helps address building inefficiencies and improves outdated infrastructure by using future energy savings to help fund projects.

    State and local buildings will have varying needs

    While public buildings urgently need upgrades, each is unique and will have its own needs and goals. Adopting new technologies can help building operation teams better manage reactive maintenance calls, identify potential cost savings, and improve the energy efficiency of these buildings. This is a win-win for facilities teams, the local operating government and its constituents.

    Honeywell offers decades of experience helping state, county and municipal governments address their toughest building challenges, whether enhancing safety and security, building operations to help with energy efficiency goals, or making spaces healthier and more comfortable for staff and citizens.

    To learn more about our offerings in the public buildings space, check our capabilities statement or talk to one of our experts today.

    [i] Building Age Data, "Enhanced Commercial Property Database", SMR Research Corp, 2023 [Accessed April 28, 2023]

    [ii] European Commission, Making our Homes and Buildings Fit for a Greener Future, December 2021 [Accessed Oct. 5,2023]

    [iii] Cushman & Wakefield, “72% of Office Stock Across Asia Pacific Will Not Meet the Needs of Top Corporate Tenants”, June 2023 [Accessed Oct. 16,2023]

    [iv] Infrastructure Report Card, “2021 Infrastructure Report Card” [Accessed April 28, 2023]

    [v] Harvard, Why Schools Need to Look at Their Own Carbon Footprint, Andrew Bauld, November 2021 [Accessed Aug. 29, 2023]

    [vi] U.S. Department of Energy, “Renew America’s Schools”, [Accessed April 28, 2023]

    [vii] U.S. Department of Energy, "Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program”, [Accessed April 28, 2023]

    [viii] Brown Edwards, "“The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022: New Incentives for your College or University”, May 2023 [Accessed Aug. 29, 2023]

    [ix] European Union, Every Building Can Be Green – Here’s How, March 2022 [Accessed Oct. 16, 2023]