What is the ISO 50001 Energy Management standard?

The term “energy management” is something that is thrown around regularly, however what does this really mean? Sometimes the term is used to vaguely reflect a company’s ambition to become more energy efficient, and therefore energy audits must be undertaken to find opportunities for energy savings. But this is only part of the equation. All too often an energy audit is commenced, a report is delivered, and six months later it is sitting in a dusty pile on the edge of someone’s desk. True energy management is an ongoing process of continual improvement that helps avoid this situation. 

The ISO 50001:2011* – Energy Management System standard offers a robust framework to develop an Energy Management System (EnMS) that supports a company to continuously improve its energy performance. This not only means improving the business’s energy efficiency, but also means conserving resources, and reducing energy costs through better tariff agreements or improving overall productivity.  

How can ISO 50001 help? 

Many companies already track energy usage on some level, and undertake projects intermittently to improve energy efficiency, however there is no unifying strategy. Development of an effective EnMS is a very bespoke affair, with some companies needing to start from scratch, while other companies have existing environmental policies and systems that need to be integrated into. Regardless, integrating an energy management system into an organisation is extremely beneficial because it necessitates the development of suitable systems to identify, capture, and verify energy savings.  

Critical requirements of the ISO 50001 Energy Management Standard that ensure energy performance success include: 

  • An Energy Management Policy must be developed that dictates more efficient and cost-effective use of energy 
  • Energy performance targets and objectives must be set to provide a goal-post to aim for 
  • Energy data must be used in a smart manner to track energy performance and to track ongoing performance. This may require the installation of more advanced energy monitoring systems.  
  • Measuring performance may also mean that Energy Performance Indicators (EnPIs) need to be developed so that meaningful analysis can take place e.g. (kWh per unit of production). 
  • The EnMS must be periodically reviewed via regular meetings to determine its effectiveness and energy performance targets may need re-adjustment 
  • As for other ISO standards, this process is one of continual improvement and gaining momentum is of key importance. 

Taking it to the next level 

ISO 50001 certification is possible but not obligatory, and can be achieved further along the energy performance journey. Apart from the benefit of having a third-party ensuring your system is robust, it can also be used as a marketing tool. Companies in some industries may benefit from customers that perceive this positively. 

*a 2018 version of the standard is soon to be released at the time of writing. The new version will bring the standard in line with the high-level structure of other ISO standards such as ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 with a greater emphasis on leadership and top management commitment. There will also be slight modifications to specific energy management topics, however there will be no major fundamental changes. 

For further information, please contact Ross Tunmer.