A survey of nearly 500 buildings across seven major U.S. cities by Honeywell and KRC Research shows that building operators prioritize the safety and security of their facilities over sustainability and productivity. While safety emerged as the top concern, the vast majority of building managers do agree about the beneficial nature of green initiatives.

Half of those surveyed, however, say their facilities aren't equipped with the right technology to maximize energy efficiency and sustainability. In addition, while the country's airports, government offices and hospitals are leading the way with smart buildings, the survey found that, in general, the intelligence of U.S. buildings is low.

The Honeywell Smart Building Score is a global index that evaluates facilities based on the technology used to make them green, safe and productive —three main indicators of smart buildings.

"There's an emerging opportunity for buildings to make real contributions to an organization's mission," said Alex Ismail, President and CEO of Honeywell Automation and Control Solutions. "In addition to helping keep occupants healthy, safe and productive, smart buildings can drive top-line growth and bottom-line profits, making facilities strategic assets instead of overhead."

Among the key findings of the survey:

In general, the "smartness" of buildings in the United States is low. On a scale of 1-100, the average Smart Building Score among the facilities surveyed is 35.

Fifty-one percent of respondents cite safety as the primary gauge of a smart building, while 27 percent say green assets and 22 percent say productive assets are the most indicative qualities.

According to the survey, the top three scoring assets in U.S. buildings are fire detection systems, efficient appliances and fixtures, and remote access/wired infrastructure.

Eighty-two percent of building managers agree about the beneficial nature of energy efficiency, while only 53 percent believe their building is "technologically advanced" enough to maximize efficiency.

Public buildings universally score higher on green (40 vs. 35), safe (47 vs. 35), and productive (41 vs. 32) assets than private buildings, leading to an overall score of 43, compared to the overall private building score of 34.

Among the eight building types, airports (50), government offices (46) and hospitals (45) are the smartest buildings and high rise residences (31) and private offices (31) are least smart.

Organizations that took part in the research were also asked to self-assess their buildings and give them a score on the 1-100 scale. And participants consistently overrated the intelligence of their facilities; the average difference between perceived and real scores is more than 20 points. Estimates from hospitals and government offices were often closest to the Smart Building Score, while the most inflated assessment came from hotels and residential high-rises.