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What is ISO 50001?

ISO 50001:2011 – the business case and path to implementation.

ISO 50001 helps comply with ESOS

Chemical factories benefit from ISO 50001 energy management systems

ISO 50001:2011 is the new international standard that integrates good energy husbandry into every-day management practise. The ISO standard was designed to replace the British Standard for energy management ,BS 16001, and current holders of BS 16001 certificates are expected to make the transition to ISO 50001 over a period of time.  There is no requirement for this standard to be externally certified, as it is designed for organisations to use internally as an energy saving tool, and it uses the tried & tested ISO standard framework that enables it to be easily integrated with existing environmental management systems such as ISO 14001. ISO 50001:2011 uses a systematic & detailed approach to identifying & controlling energy consumption &, as a direct result, it can lead to significant benefits for the organisation that applies it.

What are the business benefits?

Increased profit

ISO 50001 helps the organisation to understand where & when energy is being used, then encourages a step-wise analysis of the data that highlights opportunities for energy saving. This leads directly to cost savings. A US Department of Energy pilot study of companies implementing ISO 15001 between 2008 & 2010 found that energy savings of 6.5% to 17% were achieved without any capital spend.

Effectively managed business risk

ISO 50001 ensures that an organisation minimises its cost of energy. As energy costs are expected to rise faster than the rate of inflation in the long run, this helps to future-proof the organisation against potentially damaging price rises.
ISO 50001 encourages an organisation focus on energy consumption within their supply chain. This contributes towards supply chain resilience, helps protect the organisation against loss of critically important materials and services caused by unsustainable energy costs and also acts as a damper on supply chain price increases.
ISO 50001 requires that an organisation identifies and manages its legal responsibilities and so avoids prosecution of the organisation and its officers.

Increased sales

ISO 50001 can be used to boost an organisation’s brand reputation and give access to customers that demand that their suppliers demonstrate an effective energy management strategy.
ISO 50001 helps to reduce operating costs, so allows the organisation to maintain margin under price pressure.

Improved relationships with third parties

ISO 50001 reassures regulators, investors & other interested parties that the organisation has energy management & green-house gas emissions under control and so can lead to a lighter touch being used.  The standard can also be used by large energy users to contribute to compliance with ESOS (Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme).

What is in ISO 50001?

In common with all other ISO standards, ISO 50001:2011 makes use of Deming’s Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle, which was originally developed to help manufacturers with quality improvement.

Deming cycle for ISO 50001

Plan Do Check Act cycle


Plan: Appoint someone who will be responsible for developing the EnMS; carry out an energy review and establish where you are; develop an energy management policy; develop energy performance indicators, energy improvement objectives, targets and action plans needed to take advantage of opportunities to improve energy performance.

Do: Put energy management action plans into practise.

Check: Monitor and measure energy-using processes; determine energy performance against the energy performance indicators, policy and objectives; report the results.

Act: Take actions to continually improve energy performance and the operation of the EnMS.
By guiding the organisation through a logical process, ISO 50001 avoids having to invent an energy management system from scratch and can save a considerable amount of time & effort.

How do I go about it?

When you embark on a project to implement ISO 50001 the organisation is making a number of important commitments.

  • Continual improvement of energy efficiency.
  • Appointment of a qualified person for energy management.
  • Evaluation of the major energy uses in the organisation to develop a baseline of energy consumption and to set targets for improvement.
  • Development of an energy management plan. Without a properly resourced plan, opportunities for improvement may be identified, but lost amongst other priorities.
  • Identification of energy performance indicators and objectives to guide the development and implementation of an action plan.
  • Staff and those who work on behalf of the organisation, who need to be aware of energy use and performance objectives, need to be competent in the skills and day-to-day practices to improve energy performance.
  • The results should be regularly evaluated and communicated to all personnel, recognising high achievement.

The organisation may decide that it has the skills, experience & free-time to meet these commitments in-house. Depending on the existing level of experience of putting management systems in place, an organisation should budget for up to 60 person-days to get an EnMS up & running. As an alternative the organisation may decide to appoint a consultant to cover gaps that it has identified in skills & experience or time availability. An experienced consultant will be able to short-cut much of the planning process, which should lead to faster implementation and a major reduction in the time committed by the organisation’s own people.

Once the resources have been allocated then, apart from some straight-forward documents and procedures that any energy management system would need to work effectively, ISO 50001 isn’t prescriptive and can be designed to be very light-weight and easy to maintain. Most well-run energy-intensive organisations will already have the elements needed to conform to ISO 50001 and a skilled practitioner can take what an organisation already does and demonstrate how it meets the standard, rather than having to write completely new processes from scratch. This avoids the need for employees to learn new ways of working and cuts down the time needed for implementation.

The first steps usually involve a systematic cataloguing of the organisation’s significant energy uses and the control measures that it has put in place. This is followed by a searching look at the significant processes and their pattern of energy usage. It’s at this early stage that the detailed & systematic approach to understanding energy consumption identifies opportunities that may have been missed, even by organisations that already have ISO 14001, and they start to realise the benefits of the standard.

Once the baseline performance has been identified, the organisation moves on to developing & implementing strategies for energy reduction and, in parallel, continuing to gather & analyse data to ensure that improvements are being achieved.

At the end of the implementation process, you can choose to have your energy management system independently certified to show to the world that you’ve achieved a very high standard. If you do, it’s important to use one of the hundred or so certification bodies in the UK that are accredited by the government-backed United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). This ensures that your achievements will be recognised by the third parties that you’re aiming to impress.