Finding Efficiencies Through ISO 50001

by | Dec 20, 2016

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isoThere has been a proliferation of certification programs aimed at helping landlords, energy managers and associated building professionals drive energy efficiency, use of renewables and to fulfill  a number of other laudable goals.

The International Organization for Standardization is deeply involved in these efforts through ISO 50001.  The specification, according to Kit Oung, an energy savings strategist at Energy Efficien:ology and Vice Chair at Energy Manager’s Association (EMA), is structured in a “plan-do-check-act” (PDCA) cycle, which he says was adapted from the work of influential management thinker Edward Deming.

There are seven key points to ISO 50001 fulfillment, according to Oung:

  • Senior management involvement is required in long-term planning and policy.
  • Data is used to identify, plan and prioritise energy management and energy savings efforts.
  • Energy reduction is looked for not just from energy efficiency, which requires investments, but also from reducing energy users, reducing the time it is in use, and incorporating good procedural controls are all mentioned in ISO 50001.Using measurements to demonstrate achievements, and take corrections as necessary. Identifying and aligning the whole company’s vision, capabilities, and direction towards achieving energy savings.
  • Energy efficient practices are brought to and embedded into the whole organisations from shop floor to the executive suite, from operations to design.

ISO 50001 is demanding. Oung, who is the author of Energy Management in Business and four other energy management books, told Energy Manager Today that an introductory course is a good start. Another early step, he wrote, is a gap analysis that can point the way from where organization is to where it needs to get in order to be certified.

Oung pointed out that certification is not necessarily the end of the game. “One thing to note is that ISO 50001 specifies the minimum for the energy management system to function,” he wrote. “Certification to ISO 50001 means that the company has met the minimum requirements. Many companies go beyond the minimum. The tighter the company integrates the requirements into its operations, the more value it will create. [The additive value comes] not only from energy savings, but [from] other aspects of business operations too.”

In July, Energy Manager Today posted a look at how ISO 50001 works with another standard – the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DoE) Superior Energy Performance (SEP). Paul Scheihing, a Technology Manager for the DoE’s Advanced Technology Office, told EMT that the SEP is used to verify and validate gains claimed by those seeking ISO 50001 certification.

Estimates vary on usage of ISO 50001. Scheihing told Energy Manager Today that more than 15,000 facilities worldwide use the standard, while Oung wrote that almost 12,000 companies have been certified. The two numbers measure different things, so they don’t necessarily contradict each other.

By either measure, ISO 50001 is gaining traction. Another sign that this is the case is that the DoE said last month that it is expanding the ISO 50001/SEP training network. The in-house training, the DoE says, normally features webinars and three two-day in person sessions. Programs customized to meet an organization’s unique needs are available as well, the press release says.

Companies are using the program. For instance, 3M Canada this week as it became what it said is the first Canadian company to receive ISO 50001 Enterprise Level Certification.

A Bethlehem, PA facility owned by Bosh Rexroth, a German manufacturer of sophisticated drive and control equipment, recently was awarded platinum certification. Proud Green Building says that the facility has saved $2.7 million during the past three years by use of the process. The use of ISO 50001 and SEP, the story says, are part of the overall effort by the company to cut carbon dioxide emissions and improve energy efficiency by 35 percent each by 2020.

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