Is an energy management system needed?

Answer by Alejandro Morell (Creara)

An Energy Management System (EnMS) provides the processes and systems needed to incorporate energy considerations as well as the energy management into daily operations as part of an organizational strategy for improving energy performance.

There is an International Standard that specifies all the requirements for an EnMS. The ISO 50001 can be implemented regardless of the type of energy used. The requirements are used to establish and implement a Plan-Do-Check-Act continual improvement system for managing energy and achieving energy performance improvements.

Based in the common elements of ISO management system standards, ISO 50001 has a high level of compatibility with ISO 9001 quality management systems and ISO 14001 environmental management systems.

Having an EnMS is not necessary required for a successful EPC project, but it can be useful for many tasks, especially all those related to operation and measurement.

Why is it useful to have an EnMS?

Energy Management is the key to the control and reduction of energy consumption in an organization. There are four main steps covered within an EnMS to ensure proper energy management.

- Identification and assessment of uses and consumption: the first step is the identification and evaluation of energy use and consumption currently present in the various areas of the organization. The main effort for improving energy performance should be applied in the areas identified as high consumers.

- Identification and prioritization of savings opportunities: another important aspect is the identification of those saving measures whose implementation could help to improve energy performance of the organization. Once identified, prioritizing them can be done by comparing economic variables such as initial investment required or the payback period.

These savings opportunities will also serve to establish the objectives and action plans. Together, the objectives, targets and action plans constitute the primary driving force for continual improvement in the organization's energy performance.

- Defining the baseline of energy: the energy baseline is the reference point which is used as the basis of comparison for determining the energy performance. It is defined using the energy and organizational data from the initial energy review. The baseline facilitates comparison between where an organization is with respect to current energy performance and where it was before initiating an energy management system.

- Tracking the system: it is not possible to manage energy without tracking energy consumption. Thus, determining energy performance starts with monitoring and measuring the key characteristics associated with the organization’s energy use and consumption. Past and present data is collected and, along with future estimates, analyzed to determine if the organization is meeting its current energy objectives and to establish future energy goals and programs.

Monitoring, measuring and analyzing key characteristics requires an energy measurement plan. Such plan should define the appropriate monitoring and measurement actions. Significant deviations determined through monitoring and measurement must be investigated and acted upon.

Monitoring energy consumption makes possible to see patterns of energy waste and understand the overall energy behavior of a facility.

To conclude, an EnMS gives the organization a structure that will help carrying out all the guidelines listed above, and ensure continuous improvement of energy performance through the implementation of energy objectives aimed at reducing energy consumption and the measurement of results.

Finally, in many cases, ESCOs may include the implementation of an Energy Management System in an EPC as an enhancement to the specifications of a tender, increasing its competitiveness.