What is ISO 50001?

Table of Contents

This standard specifies the requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining and improving an energy management system, whose purpose is to enable an organization to follow a systematic approach in accomplishing continual improvement of energy performance, including energy efficiency, energy use and consumption 

Certification to the ISO 50001 standard ensures that any organization has a healthy energy management system, reducing energy consumption, environmental impact and increasing profitability.

ISO 50001 is a voluntary international standard developed by ISO, the International Organization for Standardization that provides requirements for establishing, managing and improving their energy consumption and efficiency. This standard is recognized as a trusted and effective system for energy management and efficiency.

The ISO 50001 standard aims to: 

  • Promote energy management best practices and behaviors.
  • Facilitate communication on the management of energy resources.
  • Provide assistance in prioritizing the implementation of new energy-efficient technologies.
  • Ease energy management improvements that lead to reduction of greenhouse gas emission.

ISO: A brief history

ISO stands for the International Organization for Standardization, the body responsible for establishing and implementing over 11,000 different standards across all sorts of applications. It was created in 1947 to develop engineering and industrial process standards.

ISO 50001 was first published in 2011, and since then various related standards have been released relating to energy management.

As an ISO management system standard is compatible with other widely popular MSS such as ISO 9001 for quality management systems, ISO 14001 for environmental management systems, and more.

How ISO 50001 works?

ISO 50001 is based on the management system model of continual improvement and provides a framework of requirements for organizations to:

• Develop a policy for more efficient use of energy

• Set targets and objectives to meet

• Use data to better understand and make decisions about energy usage

• Monitor processes and measure the results

• Review how the current energy policy is working

There are ten major components to ISO 50001:2018:

1. Scope

This clause details the scope of the international standard, which includes requirements about planning, implementation, maintaining and updating an energy management system (EnMS) as well as effective communications.

2. Normative references

There are no normative references within the standard and this clause refers to maintain the same numbering scheme as all the other ISO management system standards.

3. Terms and definitions

This section provides formal definitions of important terms used throughout the standard.

4. Context of the organization

This clause establishes the context of the EnMS. Firstly, you will need to identify external and internal issues and the needs and expectations of your stakeholders and interested parties. 

This clause also includes determining the scope of the energy management system, whic should clarify the boundaries that apply the EnMS. Furthermore, this clause requires you to establish, implement and continually improve the management system in conformity with the requirements of the standard.

5. Leadership

This clause is about the role of “top management” which refers to the person or group of people who is in charge of the organization at the highest level. The purpose is to show leadership and commitment by integrating the EnMS into the business’ overall strategy.

6. Planning

This clause focuses on how an organization plans actions to address both the risks and opportunities identified in Clause 4. It focuses on the development and use of a planning process.

The requirements of this clause include setting up the objectives of the energy management system. There is also a focus on the energy review that evaluates which types of, as well as how much, energy is used by the organization.

7. Support

This clause is all about the execution of the plans and processes that will enable your organization to complete their EnMS responsibilities. Organizations need to establish the necessary competence of people doing work that affects the management system’s performance. They should receive the appropriate training to fulfil its obligations efficiently. Furthermore, organizations must ensure that all people doing work under the organization’s control are aware of the energy policy and implications of not conforming to the EnMS. 

8. Operation

This clause outlines the requirements your EnMS should meet for successful certification. 

This clause covers:

• Operational planning and control

• Design

• Procurement

9. Performance Evaluation

This is all about measuring and evaluating your energy performance and energy management system to ensure that it is effective and helps your organization to continually improve. You will have to consider what should be measured, the methods employed and when data should be analyzed and reported on. You will also need to have in place an energy data collection plan.

10. Improvement

This clause requires a continual improvement of the suitability, adequacy, and effectiveness of the EnMS, therefore, you need to determine and identify opportunities for continual improvement of the energy management system.

Organizations need to identify whether nonconformities exist or could potentially occur, how to react to them in order to minimize their effects.

Why is ISO 50001 important?

If you are operating any kind of energy or environmental management business, you should adopt ISO 50001 because it can help your business to increase efficiency and to reduce energy use.

ISO 50001 is based on the principles of continuous improvement; therefore, implementing this standard can help your business identify energy efficiency opportunities.

Benefits of ISO 50001

ISO 50001 adoption represents a strategic investment in energy sustainability and efficiency. Businesses use this standard to obtain savings in energy usage, optimize existing standard procedures, acquire competitive advantage and execute effective risk management strategies.

By adopting ISO 50001, an organization works towards important and valuable goals. 

Here are some the advantages of achieving ISO 50001 certification:

Reduce environmental impact

By using energy more efficiently, your company can reduce greenhouse gases that cause global warming. An effective energy management system helps organizations to achieve ecological goals, but it also helps them save money on raw materials and energy. 

Improvement in energy management

By continually improving the energy-related processes, your organization can get at the forefront of energy technology development and pave the way to meet its objectives. Continual improvement also keeps your organization on schedule and allows you to monitor carefully every process and reduce nonconformities before they become major issues.

Financial savings

Reduction in energy usage and efficiency improvements will help your organization to cut down costs, obtain higher profit margins and get advantages in competitive markets. In some countries, organizations that reduce energy consumption will get benefit with lower carbon taxation.

Improve your organization’s reputation

Environmental credentials can improve your organization’s reputation among internal and external stakeholders, when you get a widely recognized environmental standard such as ISO 50001. The number of certified companies has increased lately because companies have a greater awareness of the benefits associated with it. ISO 50001 certification helps organizations to stand out in their industry and build a strong reputation for environmental responsibility.

Is ISO 50001 certification right for you?

If your organization want to take control of the way you use energy and manage the related costs more effectively, ISO 50001 certification is right. It is particularly beneficial for organizations with significant energy expenditure.

If you already have an ISO 14001 environmental management system in place, then it will be easier to get the ISO 50001 certification. ISO 14001 is the international standard that specifies requirements for an effective environmental management system (EMS). It provides a framework that an organization can follow, rather than establishing environmental performance requirements.

How to get ISO 50001 certified?

You might get the certification to get some the benefits mentioned above or to meet the requirements of a specific client or government audit.

To get certified, firstly, you need to implement an energy management system according to the most current ISO 50001 standard, and then have that EnMS audited by a certified ISO auditor. If that audit is successful, you will obtain a certification that will typically last for three years. After that period it will be necessary to recertify.

Technically, only organizations can get ISO 50001 certified. Individuals can become certified auditors in order to perform audits for external organizations. Organizations can also be audited informally, even internally, to assess their implementation of ISO 50001, but this will not derive into a certification. 

There are three main types of ISO audit, which are:

First party (internal)

First-party audits are also known as internal audits because they are informally performed by the organization to evaluate strengths and weaknesses of the management system, as well as check whether or not requirements of the standard have been met.

Second party (external)

Second-party audits are external audits carried out by request of customers of contracted organizations, to assess the quality or compliance of specific products or services. These types of audits are used to make sure suppliers are doing what they are supposed to be doing, in concordance with the contracts.

Third party (certification)

These audits are the ones carry out to get an ISO certification and should be undertaken by individuals outside of the customer-supplier relationship (to avoid conflicting interests). In general, a Certification Body auditor performs them. These audits, depending on their success, can lead to a certification. If the audit fails, the organization in question can get a penalty or a fine.

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About the author

Sandra Melo
Sandra Melo

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