ISO 50001 Energy Management

Companies of any size share one thing in common: They consume energy. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but every company has to consider the amount of resources it consumes – both for cost reasons and to protect the environment. The ISO 50001 standard provides companies with guidelines for an efficient system. The associated certification of an integrated and functional energy management system (EnMS) can also be advertised internationally. But what does this involve?

What is ISO 50001? Definition and Explanation

Definition

ISO 50001: The international standard ISO 50001 provides guidelines for a functional energy management system. It is intended to help improve the energy efficiency of a company in a continuous and sustainable manner. A corresponding international certification verifies that the standard has been successfully implemented.

Companies implement an energy management system to optimise energy efficiency. Especially for large manufacturing companies that utilise heavy machinery, energy costs account for a large part of the budget. This aspect as well as environmental and climate protection motivate enterprises to treat the necessary resources as economically as possible. According to ISO 50001 requirements, electricity and other energy sources need to be used as efficiently as possible. The system therefore recognises savings potential and continuously improves energy use.

The International Organisation for Standards has released guidelines for various management systems: ISO 9001 for quality management, ISO 14001 for environmental management, ISO 31000 for risk management as well as ISO 50001 for energy management. An option of certification is available for most standards: When a system has been introduced in compliance with the standard, external service providers can be instructed to verify the implementation. The certificate is recognised in most parts of the world.

The standard is composed in a way so that any company can implement it. The guidelines are defined without any importance attached to the size of a company nor the respective industry. ISO 50001 is also applicable to public bodies and other organisations.

Fact

All the standards mentioned follow the approach of a continuous improvement process. The PDCA cycle is used for this purpose.

ISO 50001 is not a law: Neither national nor international legislators require certification according to the standard. However, in some instances, companies that obtain ISO 50001 certification can be exempt from certain environmental and energy-related levies.

Standard Components

ISO 50001 encompasses the entirety of operations. In order for the energy management system to work, both the employees as well as the executive staff have to work on the implementation. Nonetheless, the responsibility always rests with the management of the company. This duty of accountability is explicitly demanded by the standard.

Note

ISO 50001 was revised in 2018. Just like with other standards, the document was adjusted to the High-Level Structure. The aim is that all standards on management systems should follow the same structure and apply the same terminology.

The essential components of the standards are found in sections 4 to 10. The first three chapters only contain supplementary information on the document.

Company Context

In the first instance, the company is analysed. Both internal and external aspects should be taken into account in this process. External factors include statutory requirements that apply to the energy management of the company, for example. It is important to consider all factors that may have a positive or negative influence on the EnMS. Another task is to identify all interested stakeholders. Risks and opportunities can be determined based on this information.

Management

Even though all the employees of a company have to contribute to the EnMS (energy management system) according to ISO 50001, the standard attaches special responsibility to the management level. The management of a company does not need to perform all tasks itself, however, and is even advised to delegate them accordingly. However, the management must bear accountability for energy management.

One part of a functional EnMS is an energy policy. This concerns a general guideline on how the company positions itself in the context of energy management. These principles have to be communicated clearly to every employee. The management levels likewise have to delegate roles and duties. For the EnMS to work efficiently, the management also needs to provide enough resources and capacities for implementation.

Planning

When planning an energy management system in line with ISO 50001 requirements, it is important to note that the system should be improved on a continuous basis. Here, the risks and opportunities already identified also play a part: This information can ensure that the energy management system is always optimised and does not run the risk of failure. Another element of planning is to identify the main energy consumers. The effectiveness of the energy management system should be clearly noticeable in these areas of the company. The company has to define key performance indicators to determine the success of the EnMS. Hard facts enable you to determine whether the system has achieved its objectives.

Implementation

As mentioned earlier, resources and capacities have to be made available for successful energy management. A chapter of ISO 50001 deals with the form of implementation more closely for this reason. Appropriate support not only needs to be provided when launching an EnMS but also in its continued operation. Financial resources are not the only consideration here: Every employee also needs to be equipped with the necessary know-how. What’s more, all the resources provided should be documented.

Processes

The section on processes is even more specific. It is necessary to adjust the plans to the existing processes in the company. This raises the question: How can you increase the efficiency of the identified energy consumers? Measures for increasing efficiency should be designed so that they can be practically implemented in the normal course of business. In the future, the company should then also consider how every new procurement in the area of energy management affects efficiency.

Impact Assessment

Key performance indicators should already have been defined when planning the energy management system. These can then be used to check the implementation of the EnMS. Data is regularly collected to assess the impact. This collection of energy data then enables an evaluation. If the objectives are not achieved, the system will need to be adjusted.

Improvement

According to the ISO standards on management systems, it is particularly important that not only are improvements achieved for the company by implementing an efficient system, but that the system constantly improves itself. The tasks therefore involve continuously searching for optimisation potential for the EnMS. Opportunities should be found where the EnMS and the energy efficiency of the entire company can be optimised. These efforts should also be documented.

ISO 50001 certification

Once the standard has been successfully implemented, it can be confirmed by an independent institution. ISO 50001 certification is valid internationally and thus offers a competitive advantage in most parts of the world. Apart from that, the analysis by the certification body can provide certainty for a company that it has established an effective system and can therefore expect positive effects.

Step 1: Internal Audit

However, before seeking a review by an external provider, it’s advisable to conduct an internal audit. Support for this can be obtained from expert third parties (including certification bodies). Nonetheless, the internal audit does not form part of the actual certification process. These initial checks are intended to find any mistakes and thereby reduce the risk of failing the external audit. An expert can also be consulted to provide tips for implementing ISO 50001.

Only once the system has been reviewed internally should you commission a certifier. Each company can freely choose the certification body. There are a range of organisations and associations available to this end – one of the most well-known is the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). In the first stage of the process, the auditor reviews documentation. Here, they seek to confirm that all the steps for implementing ISO 50001 have been properly documented in full.

When this stage is passed successfully, the audit quickly proceeds to the next stage. But if the auditor finds shortcomings, the continuation of the process depends on the severity of the problems. If too many errors are found, the certification process will be stopped. However, if deficits only exist to a limited extent, the audited company has time to resolve the errors before the second part of the audit.

Step 2: Official Certification

In the second part, the certifier considers the actual implementation of the standard. This means, the certifier visits the premises, speaks with a random sample of employees, and checks the use of the energy management system in the company. In addition, another document review is conducted – although in greater detail this time. At the end, an extensive discussion is held in which the auditor presents their findings and points out any issues. If the second step of the audit uncovers any errors, there is also the chance here to retroactively correct for any shortcomings according to the standard. A follow-up audit is then performed to review the improvement measures.

Step 3: Annual Monitoring Audit and Recertification

If the company receives the certification, it is valid for three years. During this timeframe, the certification body performs an annual monitoring audit. The aim of this less comprehensive review is to check the continued use of the certified EnMS. Ongoing improvement is also considered here. Once the three years are over, the certificate is no longer valid. A recertification then has to take place, which involves repeating the entire audit process.

Costs of ISO 50001 Certification

The costs of ISO 50001 certification depend on several factors. First of all, it’s important to bear in mind that implementing the standard (as well as adjusting or newly acquiring an energy management system) already involves costs. Resources have to be made available for the planning and implementation. The financial cost therefore largely depends on the circumstances of the respective company.

The costs of the actual certification process also vary depending on the company. When charging for their services, certification bodies follow the system of the International Accreditations Forum (IAF). Accordingly, the price depends on the size of the company (measured by the number of employees) and the industry. Both factors affect the work involved and therefore also the costs.

Summary

ISO 50001 certification involves a considerable amount of work and costs. But companies that dutifully follow the requirements of the standard will have an efficient and cost-saving energy management system. The certificate also offers a competitive advantage which may bring in additional financial benefits.

Please note the legal disclaimer relating to this article


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