IBM Survey Shows Strengths, Gaps in U.S. Office Buildings

- Only a third say their buildings are environmentally responsible

ARMONK, N.Y., - 29 Apr 2010: U.S. office buildings have failed to keep pace with the revolution in automation that pervades modern life, according to a new survey of American office workers by IBM (NYSE: IBM). The wide-ranging survey indicates that inefficiencies built into office buildings are taking a toll in lost productivity and added costs.

The survey also revealed a groundswell of desire among working people to help remake their offices into greener environments.

Los Angeles emerged as the clear winner in the IBM Smarter Buildings study, which surveyed 6,486 office workers in 16 U.S. cities on issues ranging from office building automation and security to elevator reliability and conservation issues. Respondents answered a series of questions about the office buildings in which they work.

"Urban environments are experiencing growth at a rate where better efficiency at the system level is key," said Rich Lechner, vice president, Energy and Environment for IBM. "Yet, even as automobiles, transportation systems, electrical grids and other modern systems are achieving greater efficiency, many office buildings remain rooted in the past.  Bridging this 'Intelligence Gap' can create huge savings in energy and maintenance costs and improve a company's bottom line, as well as create a healthier, more productive workforce."  

Going down?

The cost of the intelligence gap is reflected in many ways. For example, the cumulative time that office workers spent stuck in elevators in the past 12 months totaled 33 years across the 16 cities, broken out in the following way: New York City, 5.9 years; Los Angeles, 4.3 years; Chicago, 3.2 years; Houston, 2.9 years; Dallas/Fort Worth, 2.4 years; Washington, D.C., 2.2 years; Atlanta, 1.9 years; Boston, 1.8 years; Philadelphia, 1.7 years; San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose, 1.4 years; Detroit, 1.1 years; Seattle/Tacoma, 1 year; Denver, 1 year; Phoenix/Prescott, 0.8 year; Tampa/St. Petersburg, 0.6 year; Minneapolis/Saint Paul, 0.5 year.

Elevators: The Time Cost

The time spent waiting for an elevator is even more onerous. The cumulative time that office workers spent waiting for elevators in the past 12 months totaled 92 years across the 16 cities, broken out in the following way: New York City, 16.6 years; Los Angeles, 8.7 years; Chicago, 9.0 years; Houston, 6.8 years; Dallas/Fort Worth, 5.5 years; Washington, D.C., 7.7 years; Atlanta, 4.3 years; Boston, 5.4 years; Philadelphia, 6.0 years; San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose, 4.5 years; Detroit, 2.7 years; Seattle/Tacoma, 3.2 years; Denver, 2.3 years; Phoenix/Prescott, 4.1 years; Tampa/St. Petersburg, 1.6 years; Minneapolis/Saint Paul, 3.1 years.

Indeed, 25 percent said that the elevators in their office buildings are poorly coordinated – for example, too few or too many at any one time, or insufficient capacity.

LA Rules

Los Angeles was best or near-best in a number of key categories surveyed. For example, LA had the highest percentage (40 percent) of respondents who say their office buildings automatically sense when people are in a room and adjust lights and temperature accordingly – compared with the average of 27 percent. LA had the highest percentage of respondents (22 percent) who say their office buildings make use of renewable energy sources like solar. The average is 14 percent. LA had the highest percentage of respondents (thirty-five percent) who indicate that products promoting improved air quality (such as low VOC paint and sustainable carpet as well as bio-based cleaning fluids) are used in their buildings. The average is 26 percent.

LA also holds the top spot on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s list released last month that called out cities with the most Energy Star labeled buildings. LA had 293 of them in 2009, equaling $93.9 million in cost savings and prevention of emissions equivalent to the impact of 34,800 homes.*

IBM Smarter Buildings Survey – Key Nationwide Findings

Nationwide, only 33 percent rated their office buildings "somewhat high," "very high" or "extremely high" in terms of environmental responsibility. And 65 percent say they would participate in the redesign of the workspace in their office buildings to make them more environmentally responsible.

Analysis of the survey results indicated a number of other key nationwide findings related to how intelligent buildings are in the U.S.:

Smarter Buildings Index

IBM has compiled the results of the survey into a Smarter Buildings Index that ranks efficiency in each city on a scale from one to 10, with 10 being the best. Here's how the cities stack up:

Smarter Buildings Index

The Index is comprised of 10 issues: elevator wait times, Internet access, badge access, lights turning off automatically in the evening, presence of sensors that adjust lights and temperature when people enter and leave rooms, use of renewable energy sources, low-flow toilets, use of air-friendly products, respondents opinion of how environmentally-friendly building is, respondents desire to participate in building redesign.

For the complete report, please click here:

The Smarter Buildings Survey was conducted by IBM to better understand consumer thinking about urban infrastructure as climate and economic concerns reach critical levels nationwide. The company's expertise in systems management, analytics and sensors is bridging physical and digital worlds.  Buildings consume 72 percent of all electricity (50 percent of that electricity is wasted), generate 38 percent of electricity-related greenhouse gases, and emit more emissions into the environment than our cars do.

Smarter Buildings for a Smarter Planet

IBM is delivering technology that manages office buildings, warehouses, factories, power plants, laboratories, campuses, apartments, resorts and all types of buildings to save costs, better manage systems, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  IBM software, hardware and services help create, manage and maintain the world's most intelligent and interconnected infrastructures from smarter buildings, cities, utilities, offices, transportation systems and operations in every industry.

* For more information about the EPA ranking visit:!OpenDocument

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This chart compares the total amount of time -- measured in years -- that office workers in 16 U.S. cities spent either waiting for an elevator or stuck in one during the past twelve months. Source: The IBM Smarter Buildings Survey, April 2010.

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