ISO 50001: The new energy management paradigm
ISO 50001 defines how facility executives can establish an energy management plan.
The International Standards Organization recently released a new standard, ISO 50001, which has gained a lot of attention right out of the gate. ISO 50001 defines how facility executives can establish an energy management plan and integrate it with their routine business model. By implementing ISO 50001, executives can credential their organization as a conscientious energy consumer.
Three things give ISO 50001 its star appeal:
- ISO 50001 is applicable to any size and type of organization in any country and to every type of building using any type of energy from any source. And, it’s designed to be integrated with organizational policies and practices already in place—so organizations do not have to reinvent themselves around energy management.
- ISO 50001 adopters can self-certify or undergo a third-party audit, which supports small companies that can’t afford the audits, and enables the larger companies to boast their certifications. And, the ISO brand is regarded highly all over the world. This isn’t yet another new standard by yet another new organization nudging its way into the crowded green scene.
- ISO 50001 is wholeheartedly supported by the U.S. EPA Energy Star program and the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE). EPA and DOE will release tool kits in October 2011 to help organizations adopt ISO 50001, and the standard is being embedded in overarching programs, such as the Superior Energy Performance program for manufacturers.
ISO 50001’s scope applies to “variables affecting energy performance that can be monitored and influenced by the organization.” It facilitates an organization endeavoring to meet commitments for energy consumption and, if desired, also for carbon reduction. For example, a university pledging to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% can adopt ISO 50001 to structure how it reduces energy waste and documents the energy and carbon savings.
ISO defines an energy management system (EnMS) to include the activities of people; it’s not just about HVAC controls or BAS. That’s probably why ISO created a four-letter acronym (EnMS) instead of EMS for energy management system. Another four-letter acronym defined in the standard is PDCA, Plan–Do–Check–Act, which alludes to a long-term continual framework for energy management.
ISO 50001 does not set performance goals or building performance criteria, and it’s skimpy on the details for the measures it does require. For example, it specifies that an organization must have energy management goals, plans, processes, and documentation in place, but it does not specify their content or behavior. So, chances are pretty good that organizations with a robust energy management program already in place, such as the one long advocated by the Energy Star buildings program, will have little difficulty meeting ISO 50001.
ISO 50001 structures the PDCA of energy management in about 13 pages, including definitions. Executives can quickly read the standard and get the gist of it, which will go a long way toward giving ISO 50001 traction.
This translates into a great business opportunity for consulting engineers and commissioning firms. Consultants can help organizations develop their energy management system to ISO 50001—and perform energy audits or retro-commissioning studies that identify cost-effective conservation measures, and implement them. For applicable facilities, engineers can easily roll in Energy Star scores and certification as part of their energy goals.
Additionally, energy professionals should consider getting certified to conduct ISO 50001 audits. Exams for certified auditors begin in October 2011. This certification will be a differentiating credential tied to an international standard that is, in my estimate, going to gain traction fast.
Ivanovich is the president of The Ivanovich Group LLC, which provides research, analysis, and consulting services to the buildings industry. For more information, visit www.theivanovichgroup.com.