ISO 50001: the Why, What and How of It

As the number of ISO 50001 certificates continue to increase faster than ISO 14001 you may still be wondering:

  • Why do it?
  • What is it about?
  •  How do I get there?


Independent Research (US DoE, Deloitte) has proven that a systematic approach to energy management works phenomenally better than the traditional project based approach… no matter how good you are at project management, no matter that you have tracking systems, an energy policy and some awareness campaigns going. The research implies that you are leaving two-thirds of the savings on the table and payback is averaging 1.7 years.


The “What” depends on where you are starting from and how mature your energy management system is.

It is a journey – ISO 50001 is based on the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) model of continuous improvement.  If you already have ISO 50001 you have now realized that certification has brought you part way along the journey and you are asking where to next? What is my next stop?  How do I get there? Remember ISO 50001 is NOT a standard to be adhered to; it’s a way of working that saves real money.  It is not based on perfection but on continuous improvement.


“How do I get there?” is a little misleading because you should never consider that you are finished. However, knowing where you are now is the first step, and this can be achieved by doing a self-assessment. You may already have started gathering energy data, done some energy audits and started to identify your energy uses. The outcome of this gives you a good understanding of energy (and money) flows which can be powerfully visualized by a Sankey diagram. You now need to identify improvement opportunities, linked to the energy uses from the data gathered to show the savings that can be achieved (and stop the flow of cash out the door.) If you do this energy (and cost) savings will happen even before you start to think about baselines and EnPIs.

Along with the technical activities (which all us engineers love), you should also assess your way of working and how you can improve (and move up through the maturity levels.) A lot of the savings being left on the table are achieved from continual improvements in your way of working so consider things like:

  • How do I improve my metering system to identify energy savings or prevent losses?
  • Do I need to update my EnPIs to identify further savings?
  • Are staff aware of the energy management activities?
  • Are staff actively participating – have they made suggestions?
  • How well are O&M staff trained in energy efficiency?
  • Can my energy efficiency of my processes be improved?
  • Are the management team really involved and what do they need to do?

If you are only starting now, then the journey has been made even easier by accessing the  ever increasing knowledge pool that has been developed over the past 2 years (e.g. DoE eGuide, on-line self-assessment tools ,  textbooks and software). The ISO TC 242 committee are also continuing to expand the ISO 50000 family covering energy auditing, energy baselines and EnPIs, measurement and verification (M&V) and guidance documents for implementation.

In the relatively short time since its introduction, ISO 50001 has proven itself to be the internationally recognized standard for implementing a strategic and systematic energy management system with proven energy and cost savings. No matter where you are on your journey there are resources and tools available to help you reach your desired destination… which should answer; what to do? And how? The “Why” should now be obvious!

Mike Brogan, COO of Enerit, has over 20 years of experience in the area of energy management. He has project managed enterprise-wide software solutions throughout Europe and North America. Mike is delegated to the ISO Technical Committee 242 (Energy Management), as an expert in developing guidance for implementing an ISO 50001 EnMS.

Enerit is focused on developing innovative IT and Software services for energy management and in particular systematic energy management based on the international standards in energy management ISO 50001. Enerit is the first company in the world to provide comprehensive software for large energy users to implement the ISO 50001 standard. It is the only systematic energy management solution that helps its users convert energy information into dynamic integrated organization-wide action plans to get teams working together to drive down energy costs.

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