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ERA's Environmental Compliance Management Blog

ISO 50001: The Energy Management Standard

Posted by Alex Chamberlain

Alex Chamberlain is a writer for ERA Environmental Management Solutions.

isa50001_blogManaging your energy consumption is an essential step in becoming a sustainable business. That’s true for both big businesses and small facilities. But until now there hasn’t been a standardized methodology for measuring your energy consumption through individual processes and connecting that back to your sustainability efforts…

Introducing the newest (and first) International Standards Organization system for energy management: ISO 50001.

ISO 50001 [PDF] was first published in 2011 and is now starting to become popular with some major international manufacturers. It is designed to help you carefully manage your energy usage throughout your processes to identify weak links in your energy chain and identify opportunities to save money or implement improvements.

While the potential energy and cost savings will differ for every business, if implemented correctly, the ISO expects the new ISO 50001 standard to offer many businesses major savings.

The new energy management standard follows a similar structure to that of ISO 14001. Both are grounded in the ISO’s PLAN-DO-CHECK-ACT system to create a cycle of continual improvement. That means you’ll always be seeking ways to improve your energy usage and perpetually reducing your operating costs.

The ISO 50001 Cycle

Like the ISO 14001 standard, ISO 50001 should involve all levels of your business, including environmental specialists, executives, and those involved with your every day manufacturing processes.

Here are the basics of the ISO 50001 structure:

PLAN

  • Do an energy review & establish a baseline for your energy consumption.
  • Set objectives and targets you want to reach in your energy usage.
  • Develop action plans to take advantage of energy opportunities.
  • Define your Energy Performance Indicators (EnPIs).

DO

  • Delegate tasks to relevant team members.
  • Implement the action plans you created in the planning stage.

CHECK

  • Monitor your processes and measure your energy usage.
  • Check your results against the targets and objectives you set.
  • Report and communicate the results (particularly with key decision makers).

ACT

If you’ve reached your goals, set and develop new ones to continually improve. If you haven’t achieved your targets, determine why and take action to fix the issues.

Read more about the ISO continuous improvement cycle.

ISO 50001 & Sustainability

Implementing ISO 50001 isn’t just a great way to reduce operating costs, it’s also an excellent way to contribute to your business’ overall sustainability plan. No truly successful environmental sustainability plan is complete without a thorough energy consumption reduction element, including the introduction of environmental and energy key performance indicators (KPIs).

Using ISO 50001 will help you best plan for maximizing your renewable energy sources or finding more energy-efficient equipment to complete the same tasks. Even if you haven’t reached a stage where you’re ready to start making those changes, using ISO 50001 will give you concrete energy usage data that makes for great sustainability report material and is useful during the decision-making process.

ISO 50001 can also have a dramatic effect on your air emissions and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions if you use it to reduce your overall energy usage or switch to more renewable sources. You’ll be able to reduce GHGs associated with your energy providers and that can make a big difference when it comes to carbon footprint reporting, both mandatory and voluntary.

In addition, ISO 50001 also helps you manage the energy consumption related to your entire supply chain. Creating a more sustainable supply chain is one of the most efficient ways of transforming your business into a more sustainable enterprise.

ISO 50001 Certification

Like many ISO standards, certification is not necessarily required to get all of the benefits of implementing ISO 50001. However, getting certified with the help of a professional certification organization will likely increase the speed and ease with which you will see those benefits occur.

You’ll also find it easier to manage your energy consumption if you have a system in place to automatically monitor your energy usage for every process. Having a good EMS (environmental management system) or ISO 14001 will help you capture the data that you’ll need for ISO 50001.

Currently, DEKRA is the most prominent organization responsible for ISO 50001 certification. Because ISO 50001 is a new standard, it is expected that the number of manufacturers implementing ISO 50001 and certification agencies will soon grow.

If you plan on becoming a sustainability leader, it may be time to consider ISO 50001 certification to manage the energy consumption element of your overall efforts.  

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ERA Environmental Alex

About the Author: Alex Chamberlain is a writer and blogger who regularly contributes to ERA Environmental Management Solutions' blog. You can find Alex on Google+LinkedIn & ERA's Environmental Compliance Blog

Image credit: Lydia shiningbrightly