According to a recent study of the North American market for environmental control systems in non-residential buildings by i&i limited - Proplan, the growing building control system market still has plenty of room for growth. The study indicates that the North American market is considerably larger than the European market, manufacturers' sales in 2000 at engineered and commissioned prices rose to $2.04 billion, having grown at an unprecedented 16% per annum since 1998.

The study is the second study of the market. The first edition, published in 1998, confirmed that this market was sitting on a powder keg of growth, but despite the remarkable performance over the last two years, the business is far from fully ignited. Projects continue to be underspecified, resulting in a lower penetration of building controls per capita than developed markets in northern Europe.

The study also indicates that the full potential of this market is being realized and that the penetration of advanced controls in North America should be very much larger than it is today. North America has a larger building stock, higher spending on building construction, installations, more hvacr equipment, consumes more energy per sq ft and has a higher number of heating and cooling degree days than any other developed economy. Nevertheless, it spends considerably less on DDC controls per dollar of construction or per sq m of floorspace than many of the developed markets of northern Europe, according to the report.

This market continues to offer the best opportunity in the developed world for sustained growth over the next five years. Growth has been driven in part by buoyant new construction and expanding refurbishment business, but also by factors such as increased demand for improved indoor air quality, optimization of energy consumption as electricity and natural gas prices escalate, and strong growth in integration and remote control of building services and it is these additional factors that are most likely to sustain demand in the future.