A new survey of more than 1,400 North American executives and managers responsible for making investments and managing energy in commercial buildings found that planned investment in energy efficiency is expected to rebound in 2010. That was the finding in the fourth annual Energy Efficiency Indicator conducted by Johnson Controls, a provider of equipment, controls and services for building automation; heating, ventilating and air conditioning; refrigeration; and security systems.

The survey found that 52 percent of respondents are planning to make capital investments in energy efficiency this year, up from 46 percent in 2009. Sixty percent are planning to make operating budget expenditures in efficiency programs over the next 12 months, up from 55 percent last year. Thirty-eight percent said the largest barrier to making energy-efficiency investments is the limited availability of capital.

According to the survey, 65 percent of business leaders said they are paying more attention to energy efficiency than they were a year ago, and 84 percent said energy efficiency is a priority for new construction and retrofit projects planned for this year.

The most important factor influencing energy-efficiency decisions is cost savings, with 97 percent of respondents identifying it as significant and 64 percent expecting energy prices to rise in 2010. Overall, the average expectation of respondents is a 7 percent increase in the combined price of energy over the next 12 months.

“Our research shows attention to energy efficiency is continuing its growth among business leaders,” said Dave Myers, president of Johnson Controls Building Efficiency. “Commercial buildings consume 18 percent of the energy and 35 percent of electricity used in the U.S. each year. A focus on improving energy efficiency in existing buildings is the best way to address carbon-reduction goals being set by a growing number of organizations.”