ISO announces energy management standard

The new standard, ISO 50001, is expected to influence up to 60% of global energy use and set standards for the modern world in energy usage output going forward


The International Standards Organization (ISO) officially announced the energy management standard, ISO 50001: 2011 Energy management systems – Requirements with guidance for use, on June 15, 2011. The announcement of the publication of the ISO 50001 standard comes at the end of an extensive development process that was first set in motion at a United Nations Industrial Development Organization meeting in March 2007. Because of its importance to energy policy and to global energy efficiency, ISO 50001 was created on an accelerated schedule under US and Brazilian leadership, with 56 countries contributing to its development during a 2 1/2-year period from September 2009 until its publication in June.

This new standard, which is expected to influence up to 60% of global energy use, will establish a consistent means through which industrial and commercial facilities and other organizations can evaluate energy use and develop sound strategies to improve their energy performance. The standard seeks to establish energy management as a routine part of corporate management practices for any organization.

The ISO 50001 standard offers a framework for participating organizations to establish an energy management policy, form an energy management team with the resources to effectively implement an energy management system, conduct an energy review, identify opportunities for improving energy performance, establish a baseline and energy performance indicators for tracking progress, set energy performance improvement targets, and implement action plans to achieve those targets. Central elements of the standard include attention to energy performance in operations, procurement and design, as well as an internal audit process to determine how well the organization is doing in achieving its targets. Compliance with an internationally-recognized ISO standard provides market value, as participants are able reference a global standard in communicating energy-efficient operations and energy management achievements to customers, constituents, shareholders and the general public. ISO 50001 has the potential to affect decision-making across a broad base, from procurement in the industrial supply chain to leasing agreements in commercial real estate.

By conforming to the standard, industrial plants, commercial and institutional buildings, and other organizations will demonstrate their commitment to sustainability to their customers, investors and elected officials. The decision to conform with ISO 50001 will likely come from senior management. For industrial plant managers, this decision will likely involve developing a company or plant-level energy management policy, assembling an energy team responsible for implementation of the energy management system (EnMS) with a leader who reports directly to management. ISO 50001 follows a Plan-Do-Check-Act approach that will be familiar to firms that have implemented ISO 9001 (quality) and ISO 14001 (environmental) or who have existing quality or safety programs. Once the programmatic and human infrastructure is in place much of the conformance will involve taking and recording actions to improve energy performance. Documentation requirements for ISO 50001 are flexible to allow each organization the freedom to more easily integrate the EnMS into their existing operations.

- Edited by Chris Vavra, Plant Engineering,

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