What resources are typically required to implement ISO 50001 and achieve certification? How much is this process going to cost our organization? How many individuals are required? How long will the process take?

The primary resources to implement ISO 50001 include staff time, expertise and funding for external consulting and auditing services. In the U.S., internal facility staff time represents the largest SEP implementation cost. During the SEP pilot phase, average staff time was 1.7 full-time equivalents (FTE) and ranged from 1.1 FTE to 3.5 FTE or an average internal cost of $214,000 with a range of $141,000 to $432,000 over 1.1 years. The composition of the energy team responsible for SEP implementation and certification varies per company and plant. Larger companies and complex plants need larger energy teams. On average, U.S. facilities are spending approximately 1.5 person-years to develop, implement and maintain an EnMS. Typically, the majority of positions on the energy team include staff already employed and the costs of their employment will be incurred regardless of SEP participation. During preparation for ISO 50001 and SEP third party certification, some additional staff support was required for a short duration.

New or purchased equipment is generally not necessary. Some companies may need to procure energy metering and/or monitoring assets, but these are not a requirement of ISO 50001 certification. The SEP program requires that facilities meter, monitor, and record energy consumption data for identified significant energy uses (SEUs), as well as the facility as a whole. In most cases, facilities are able to collect and document enough data using utility revenue meters along with a mix of preinstalled and new sub-meters for their SEUs. In the U.S. the average cost of metering and monitoring equipment for plants that have achieved SEP certification was $28,000 (one plant purchased a far greater amount of metering than needed). Without that plant’s expenditures, the average cost was $15,000.

The energy manager is the key person who will lead an organization in achieving its energy efficiency goals by promoting energy performance as a core value and facilitating energy improvement projects.  If a company or organization already has an energy manager, the process of ISO 50001 certification should become part of that person’s duties. If no energy manager is present, then the company or organization will need to identify and select someone for this role. An energy manager is necessary because conformance with ISO 50001 signifies that energy efficiency is integrated into the management structure of the organization. Therefore, at least one management level employee needs to manage the EnMS.

Going forward it is anticipated that costs of ISO 50001 certification will be lower when organization of facilities recertify. Metering costs will shift from purchases of new meters to maintenance of existing meters. Consultant expertise will still be valued, particularly before an external audit, but dependency on external assistance will reduce. For a company seeking to certify additional facilities to ISO 50001, expected staff time is 20 to 30% lower than needed at the first facility. In addition, the U.S. DOE is developing cost-reduction strategies including improvements to online tools, utility support, and working with the U.S. DOE Better Plants partners to scale SEP across the corporation to gain economies of scale.

Since the release of ISO 50001 in June 2011, many organizations achieved certification, but in some cases, the process took longer than expected due to the need for additional clarity and interpretation guidance of some provisions in the standard. To facilitate more rapid and widespread adoption, the ISO Technical Committee that developed the standard (TC242) has begun developing the companion Guidance Documents, which will provide technical background and application details for utilizing ISO 50001 that are intended to help stakeholders understand the full intent of the standard. The companion guidance standards are:

  • ISO 50002 will provide guidance on energy auditing. This document addresses principles of an energy audit including confidentiality, transparency, and the audit process. This guide includes a series of annexes that addresses different types of audits for industry, buildings, transportation and services.
  • ISO 17588, 17570 and 17580 address selecting, establishing and maintaining energy performance indicators (EnPI), their corresponding baselines and measurement and verification. This is likely to include the steps in selecting EnPIs, developing baselines, characteristics of significant energy uses and appropriate reasons to change a baseline.
  • ISO 50003 will provide guidance on the conformity assessment of the Energy Management System (EnMS), which is a crucial part of successful conformance with ISO 50001. This document will specify the elements in the auditing process and competence requirements of personnel involved in the audit, including the audit plan, audit team selection, audit time and audit report.
  • ISO 50004 will provide guidance on implementation, maintenance and improvement of the EnMS that is created when an organization decides to adopt ISO 50001. This document will encompass a wide variety of topics including determining the scope of an EnMS, management responsibility, identifying significant energy uses, prioritizing improvement opportunities, competence of personnel, communication, documentation, procurement, monitoring, conducting internal audits, non-conformity, corrective action and management evaluation the EnMS. 

These guidance documents are anticipated to be completed in 2014 and will provide the necessary background and supporting information to assist in implementing ISO 50001. By addressing significant core concepts within ISO 50001, these guidance documents will help enable staffs from multiple types of organizations to more effectively implement the standard and achieve certification.

In Europe conformance with ISO 50001 has occurred more rapidly and in greater numbers. This is due in large part to national government encouragement within EU member states. Ireland has embraced the implementation of strong systematic energy management practices based on standards such as ISO 50001 with 50% of large Irish based companies participating in their application. This number is set to grow because the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has a goal of getting all its Energy Agreement Program members certified to ISO 50001 by year-end 2013.

<>Germany is currently leading the way in ISO 50001 certifications worldwide with 1,115 ISO 50001 certificates attributed in 2012 alone. Examples of companies certified include Arburg, RETAL and OXEA. Germany’s leading position is most likely due to the decision to provide eco-tax relief for energy-intensive companies, if these companies contribute towards energy savings. In 2011, Germany decided to reduce energy taxes for energy-intensive operations and allowances in accordance with the German renewable energy sources act only if companies achieved certification to ISO 50001. According to the German government’s Integrated Energy and Climate Protection Program (IEKP), energy management systems will even become mandatory as of 2013.


Spain is next in line in terms of ISO 50001 certifications with more than 200. In the UK, adoption of ISO 50001 has been partially driven by the efforts to meet the country’s carbon reduction commitment (CRC), but also a higher awareness and recognition of the impact that strong energy management plays in corporate social responsibility (CSR)