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ISO 50001

Why ISO 50001 Is Widely Accepted as Standard for Energy Performance Management

ISO 50001 is an international standard that provides the necessary framework for optimal and efficient usage of energy by enterprises through the development, implementation, maintenance, and ongoing improvement of an ISO 50001-compliant energy management system, known in short as an EnMS. The standard, similar to other ISO standards such as ISO 14001, is focussed on ongoing improvement, ensuring that the compliant enterprise continuously improves their energy management. Because it follows a similar structure to the updated ISO 14001 and ISO 9001, it can easily be integrated into a single management system for easier and more cost-effective management of compliance with various ISO standards.

The 2011 version of ISO 50001 offers a comprehensive framework for enterprises to use in measuring their compliance with the requirements of the standard. It includes the framework for the development of energy efficiency policy, the setting of policy objectives, usage of data for improved understanding of energy usage and decision making regarding such, measurement of performance results, management review regarding the performance of the policy and ongoing improvement of the enterprise energy management.

Is Certification Necessary?

Though not compulsory, certification to ISO 50001 holds several benefits such as helping the organisation to improve its energy usage efficiency, reducing waste, and proving to clients and business partners that the enterprise is committed to responsible and sustainable energy usage practices. This, in turn, improves the enterprise’s standing within the industry and helps it to gain a competitive advantage over peers that have not been certified to ISO 50001.

The Approach

A systematic approach is followed towards the ongoing improvement of energy usage. The standard outlines the requirements for measurement, documentation, reporting, processes, and personnel accountability in the enterprise energy management. The new version doesn’t state specific criteria for performance and thus allows for wider application. It can be used by itself or integrated with the other ISO management systems.

Applicability

The standard is applicable to any size organisation, regardless of the industry in which it operates.

Background

The full title of the standard is ISO 5001:2011 Energy Management Systems – Requirements with Guidance for Use. The standard is published by ISO and its scope is to provide the framework regarding the requirements for development, maintenance, and improvement of the enterprise energy management system. Based on ISO 14001 and ISO 9001, it has several principles in common with the mentioned standards. The standard requires the enterprise to show how it improves its energy usage and management. Though it doesn’t state quantitative objectives, the enterprise can still set targets and action plans. This way, the organisation isn’t pressured into following a specific action plan or reaching a target not relevant to its operations.

How it Benefits Enterprises

Enterprises that comply with the standard’s requirements can identify areas in which they can improve energy efficiency. This also leads to cost savings, while they furthermore reduce their environmental impact. Management and employees at all levels of the organisation should undergo awareness training to be able to immediately identify the benefits of compliance over the long term, such as cost savings, gaining of a competitive advantage over businesses that have not been certified to ISO 50001, and the improvement in the company image within the larger community.

How the Standard Came About

Enterprises globally wanted to reduce their energy usage and the associated costs. They wanted to curb their energy spending and they wanted to comply with legislative requirements. These enterprises wanted to reduce the usage of fossil energy and improve their images by being environmentally and socially responsible. At the same time, governments across the world wanted to minimise carbon emission.

To make the above possible, the key players in various countries around the world have developed standards and regulations to reduce energy usage, harmful emissions, and wastage. The European Committee for Standardisation eventually developed the European standard EN 16001 for energy management systems development. A wider applicable standard that could also be applied to countries such as South Africa was needed and ISO 50001 replaced EN 16001.

ISO 50001 came about as the result of the UN Industrial Development Organisation’s attempt to effectively address climate change and to bring about a uniform standard for energy management systems. The ISO was appointed for the development of the new standard and work started shortly thereafter. Experts from numerous ISO member states participated in the development, along with the World Energy Council.

The end result was a standard that is now widely accepted for efficient energy management. The standard consists of the general requirements, the clause dealing with top-level management responsibility, the development of an energy policy, creation of the action plan, and the implementation and operation of the system. It also covers the need for performance audits and ongoing management reviews as part of the maintenance plan.

Framework

The standard provides the relevant framework for establishment and operation of the energy management plan with guidelines for the development of the energy usage policy, setting of targets and objectives, usage of data for decision making, assessment of the outcomes, policy performance reviews, and ongoing improvement in the management of the enterprise energy usage.

How ISO 50001 Was Received

Well over one hundred enterprises already gained certification by the start of 2012 and the number has increased tremendously in the following four years. Enterprises welcomed the standard and many have already noted that they have experienced considerable cost savings since implementation. The standard is expected to govern the largest part of energy usage around the world.

With ongoing pressure to go green in all operations, companies can no longer afford not be compliant, and certified to ISO 50001. Compliance also helps to meet country specific legislative requirements. ISO 50001 works well with ISO 14001, since the first is focussed on data related to energy usage management and the latter focusses on quality and reduction of environmental impact. It is possible to implement only one of the two standards, although integration certainly streamlines overall administration involved in complying with the requirements of both standards.

WWISE offers development, implementation, auditing, training, and maintenance assistance to enterprises that wish to become certified to ISO 50001. We also offer management system integration assistance.