If my company has already done a lot of work to save energy, do we need to obtain ISO 50001? Will this enable us to achieve ISO 50001 certification faster?

For companies that have already achieved energy savings in some aspect of their operations, or that have staffs who are dedicated to energy management, achieving ISO 50001 certification is a great way to validate those accomplishments. Certifying to ISO 50001 can also help an organization tap into the full potential of its energy savings potential and enable it to take credit for its past accomplishments due to the increased transparency provided by the certification. One myth about ISO 50001 is that it mainly encourages low-cost improvements such as energy monitoring and equipment maintenance, and not large-scale investments in energy efficiency. However, once adopters of ISO 50001 exhaust the “low-hanging fruit”, they need to identify and implement new energy efficiency measures in order to meet the energy efficiency goals they have set for themselves. This provides context to determine when and how to upgrade or replace energy-using applications or equipment that can optimize energy use.

Additionally, certifying to ISO 50001 will be less onerous for companies that have implemented energy efficiency over time. This is because such organizations usually have energy managers or engineers on their staff that already know something about process efficiency and have an innate understanding of their energy consumption. They will already know how to gather energy data, conduct energy audits and identify both energy uses and anomalies in energy consumption patterns. The main efforts will include establishing the documentation, management and communication protocols and working with outside ISO 50001 experts such as auditors.

For organizations that are new to ISO management standards, they should first evaluate their internal energy management approach. The evaluation should ask questions such as:

  • What is the current performance of the organization’s energy management system? Does it enable to organization to meet its sustainability goals?
  • How does the existing energy management system prepare the organization for current or future compliance requirements? How does it compare to industry best practices?
  • Does the current energy management system ensure continual improvement and maturity as well as alignment with the organization’s sustainability strategy?
  • Does the current energy management system benchmark energy performance of different business units in the organization?

If the existing energy management approach does not adequately address these questions, this is an indication ISO 50001 can provide value to the organization. Another way to determine whether ISO 50001 is necessary is to reach out to other organizations to discover their experience with the standard. Talking to other organizations in similar industries can yield valuable insights based on their experiences with ISO 50001 and energy management systems in general. In addition, it could be possible to take an ISO 50001 course or attend an introductory seminar. Many service provider companies offer free seminars to help organizations understand how ISO 50001 works and how it can benefit them.