Many standards were published by the International Standards Organization historically. Some of them were famous like ISO 14001 on environmental management and other standards have high expectations like ISO 26000 on social responsibility. But none seems to provoke cost reductions more than ISO 50001 issued initially in 2011.
What is it?
ISO 50001 energy management systems is a voluntary International Standard developed by ISO. It gives organizations the requirements for energy management systems (EMS) and serves organizations large and small, in both public and private sectors, in manufacturing and services.
ISO 50001 can establish a framework for industrial plants; commercial, institutional, and governmental facilities; and entire organizations to manage their energy efficiently. In fact, it is estimated that the standard could influence up to 60% of the world’s energy use.
Why is it important?
Energy is critical to organizational operations and can be a major cost in performing daily activities. In addition to the economic costs of energy to an organization, energy can impose environmental and societal costs by depleting resources and contributing to problems such as climate change.
In this context, Individual organizations cannot control energy prices, government policies or the global economy, but they can improve the way they manage energy in the own premises. Improved energy performance can lead to rapid benefits for an organization by maximizing the use of its energy sources and energy-related assets, thus reducing both energy cost and consumption.
What does this standard mainly accomplish?
1. It assists organizations in making better use of their existing energy-consuming assets.
2. It facilitates communication on the management and control of energy resources.
3. It promotes energy management systems.
4. It orients facilities towards evaluating and prioritizing the implementation of new energy-efficient technologies.
5. It formulates a framework for promoting energy efficiency.
How does it work?
ISO 50001 is based on the ISO management system model familiar to more than a million organizations worldwide who implement standards such as ISO 9001 (quality management), ISO 14001 (environmental management), and ISO 27001 (information security management).
In particular, ISO 50001 follows the Plan-Do-Check-Act process to continually improve energy performance and EMS.
ISO 50001’s implementation is expected to address what the organization does to effectively manage energy resources. It provides a framework of requirements for organizations to:
· Develop a policy for more efficient use of energy
· Fix targets and objectives to meet the policy
· Use data to better understand and make decisions about energy use
· Measure the results
· Review how well the policy works, and
· Continually improve energy management.
All the above can effectively be implemented with the assistance of an energy consulting firm.
What about the Middle East?
Several countries that use most electricity per capita are located in the Middle East, and more specifically in the Gulf region. Huge developments as well as excessive need for air conditioning in countries like Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, and Saudi Arabia require a lot of electrical power supply. But instead of constructing more power plants, it is better to manage the energy requirements and try to reduce the energy demands. But first, awareness need to be conveyed to the decision makers in this region, similar to other parts of the world.
The need to continuously upgrading regulations to control and limit unnecessary power demands is an huge but feasible challenge for governments. Energy consultancy firms can surely help in this endeavor. The other great challenge is to drive top management of any organization to commit to and understand the benefits of implementing energy management systems.
In brief, the barriers to adopting ISO 50001 are the limited technical knowledge at organization level, the difficulty in obtaining financing, and the weak legislation concerning energy efficiency.
ISO 50001 has been able to draw on numerous national energy management standards, specifications and regulations, including ones developed in China, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden, the USA and the European Union.
Reducing consumption of energy without sacrificing the operations of the facility is a dream come true for many energy conscious organizations. With its simplicity and all the benefits that it draws, time will prove that ISO 50001 is one of the best standards that ISO has ever developed.