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ISO 50001: From Energy Project to Energy Plan

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.

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3 thoughts on “ISO 50001: From Energy Project to Energy Plan

  1. ISO is the International Organization for Standardization, whose most popular standard, ISO 9001 is for quality management, not control. Another popular standard, often used for energy management, is ISO 14001. The most popular safety standard, OHSAS 18001, is not an ISO standard. ISO 50001, an expanded composite of ISO 9001 and 14001, differs from them by centering on monitoring instead of improvement.

  2. As a Chinese, I found it is impossible for me to download a ISO5001 copy, so what does it mean to me? it is something like Bible. To buy a Bible is much easier that buying a ISO standard copy. It is fair?

  3. Eric,
    Thank you for your comments. To clarify:
    * ISO 9001 is for quality management systems (QMS), not quality management. A successfully performing QMS should lead to improved quality management and control. This is the reason (controlling and improving quality) that you implement a QMS absent of any requirement for external certification.
    * The ISO 14001 standard for environmental management systems can be used for energy management, but the international community felt that it was too broad and not specific enough for energy – this was based on feedback from organizations who tried to implement it for energy management. The environmental management system concepts of aspects and impacts were seen as too broad and abstract compared to the more concrete concepts of energy use and energy performance.
    Hence, the creation of a specific energy management system standard, ISO 50001.
    * While OHSAS 18001 is the most popular safety standard, ISO does have other safety standards, such as for food safety.
    * Though we tried to emulate the best parts of ISO 9001 and 14001, I would not call 50001 a composite. Both of those standards do a fine job for their focus areas, but we tried to emphasize requirements that improve energy performance, not just improve performance of the management system. With that, we took input from other energy management system standards such as the original US ANSI standard (MSE 2000:2008), the European standard (EN 16001) as well as best practices from around the world. The whole idea behind ISO 50001 is improving energy performance.

    Thanks again for your comments and insights.

    Shanghai G&S Trading,
    As for buying a copy of the ISO 50001 standard in China, unfortunately I can not comment on how to purchase it. In the United States we can buy the standard on the ISO website (www.iso.org) or on the ANSI website (www.ansi.org). So, there may be an issue of what website to go to in China and if you can access that website. Secondly, countries often translate the standard into their native language, and that translation process can take months. Lastly, individual countries often go through their own approval process of the standard, where they decide if they want to adopt the ISO standard as their national standard (and possibly replace their own national standard). Those last two points may cause a delay that you may be experiencing.

    Thank you so much.

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