Around the world, an increasing number of countries are implementing more stringent and more urgent regulations related to energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The European Union’s 20-20-20 Initiative looks to energy efficiency as a key pillar in reducing GHG emissions by 20 percent by 2020 based on 1990 levels. Russia has announced new 2020 energy efficiency objectives based on GDP. Canada, Singapore, India, the US and dozens of other countries have put increasingly aggressive goals in place.
In the corporate world, the trend is equally clear, as more and more companies are taking a proactive approach to energy efficiency, looking at energy management as a way to slash operating costs as well as a means to stay on the right side of escalating current — and future — regulatory actions. Corporate responsibility reporting has become common business practice and is now carried out by 71 percent of the 100 largest companies in 41 countries, according to KPMG’s 2013 “Survey of Corporate Responsibility Reporting,” which also found that 93 percent of the world’s largest 250 companies published a sustainability report in 2012.
The International Organization for Standardization has made a valuable and timely contribution toward increasing the dialog around and advancing energy efficiency efforts in the global manufacturing sector with the publication of ISO Standard 50001 for energy management systems (EnMS), giving organizations a rock solid foundation on which to build their own EnMS. For those organizations that have not yet fully implemented an energy management system but are aware they must, ISO 50001 offers a welcome starting point. It provides tremendous impetus for a process which many have found too difficult to get off the ground, one which can often be mired in the planning and analysis stages for months or even years without gaining significant traction.
A good first step
Based on best-practice management systems, ISO 50001 offers companies a useful framework that consists of four steps: 1) Plan. 2) Do. 3) Check. 4) Act. It is a continuous improvement model that promotes incremental change. However, for companies that want to achieve energy management excellence and go a step beyond the improvements afforded by ISO 50001, it is necessary to put in place a system that delivers measurable results on particular targets. Every industry, every organization will have specific, individual needs that are hard to address with a general international standard. The state of the facilities, company culture, production methods, fuel mix, and manufactured goods vary widely from company to company. That means organizations have to put in place their own goals and metrics in order to produce realistic and meaningful energy efficiency measurements. Implementing the changes needed to achieve this requires a robust energy management system that builds on the ISO 50001 foundations.