When it comes to energy, companies have three options: do nothing at all, undertake individual energy projects, or deploy an energy program that pushes lasting performance improvement. Any company that wants to survive, and ideally thrive, in the next five years should assume that what has worked to date will likely need to be enhanced, perhaps dramatically. These companies will have to look at implementing an energy program, and for some, that energy program should leverage ISO 50001, a new standard in energy management that was recently released by the International Standards Organization (ISO).
The ISO 50001 Energy Management Systems Standard codifies the best practices of energy programs to drive the greatest savings over time. ISO standards for safety, quality control, and other operations have long been considered to be “best in class” standards and have driven great results for the businesses that adopt them. In the same way, ISO certified energy programs will be globally relevant. Ideal company profiles include those that have operations or customers in different locations, across borders, or in robust supply chains. The single, harmonized standard will drive better use of energy-consuming assets, guide energy performance improvements and their reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and support transparency and awareness of energy resource management.
After three years and thousands of man-hours of contributions from representatives of nearly 60 countries, the standard itself is here. It was released two months ago and is beginning to be deployed in the field. Having personally participated in the development process, I can attest to these countries’ cooperative attitude that enabled us to quickly get this vitally important standard into the hands of companies around the globe so that they could reap the benefits as soon as possible. We did not want to take four, five, or more years. Businesses and organizations worldwide need to move on energy management, and they need to move now
The reasons for expediency are clear: Organizational energy programs establish management structures to increase accountability and results, apply energy efficiency to operations and maintenance, and integrate energy into related areas like training and procurement. A successful energy program will tie projects together into a strategic plan, support management to make decisions on new technologies, and identify low- or no-cost solutions. The company follows a path with a goal in mind, versus ending up somewhere they didn’t intend. Energy programs have led to successes at dozens of facilities, with results that always surpass expectations, both in terms of cost reductions and benefits to productivity.
So what should you do? For any company thinking more than a year into the future, I strongly recommend considering an energy program. So, first, familiarize yourself with the ISO 50001 standard and begin thinking about how to integrate it into your vision. Second, start today. Do not let perfection stand in the way of developing your energy plan. Get a basic plan in place, begin moving in the right direction, and monitor and revise as you go. There are many companies that can provide professional advice and help you get a handle on where energy use is occurring and can be reduced. My company, EnerNOC, is just one of those firms. But no matter where you begin your pursuit of energy efficiency, the key should be to start today and let your energy program, along with standards like ISO 50001, guide you to better overall energy management.
Chad Gilless is manager of continuous energy improvement at EnerNOC.