ISO 50001, energy management systems & your sustainability

With a call for more sustainable energy use across the world, is an energy management system aligned with ISO 50001 the answer for your business? 

Evelyn Chuang

by Evelyn Chuang

Are energy management systems and ISO 50001 your way to a green economy? While businesses hear the call for sustainable energy management loud and clear, a thorough understanding of what that means isnt clearly laid out by legislation. For many companies, standards and processes through energy management systems are paving the way forward 

What is a green economy?

United Nations defines a green economy as low carbon, efficient, and socially inclusive resources. A green economy requires energy transition and investment from the public and private sectors. The investment in the green economy must be implemented by policy and regulatory reform on tax and industrial-initiated technology development and supported by infrastructure and stable financing sources. 

While policy and government funds are still under discussion, is there any practical option for companies to save energy costs, proactively develop a more sustainable product and service to incrementally lower energy consumption, and increase energy efficiency to react to climate change? Enter energy management systems. 

How an energy management system helps

The energy management system (EnMS) is a process to assess energy consumption, set up energy goals, and optimize energy use to ensure its performance reaches efficiency and benefits environmental sustainability.  

The energy management process includes: 

  • identifying energy consumption 
  • collecting and analyzing energy data 
  • reviewing possible energy sources  
  • saving functions with feasible improvement measures 
  • recording the management process 

Energy management systems are widely adopted in various industrial sectors, especially for heavy energy users like power generation plants or manufacturing industries with many greenhouse gas emissions.   

It’s a challenging target to reach carbon neutrality, but it isn’t unfeasible.

Where ISO 50001 comes in

ISO 50001 Energy Management System is a global standard recognized for energy auditing and certification for an energy management system. The certification provides a framework for companies to build up an energy management system and develop a feasible and auditable energy strategy. 

ISO 50001 applies to all industries, regardless of the type, size, use, or activities involving energy consumption. Companies can establish, implement, and review an organization’s energy policy using the plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycle and systematic approaches to achieving the energy targets and ultimately realizing energy efficiency.  

Like other ISO standards, an organization’s top management must commit to the energy policy and ensure the execution and success of the energy management system. The ISO 50001 standard also requires documentation of energy policy, criteria, assessment, implementation, audit, and corrective action. ISO 50001 can incorporate with the management system under ISO 9001 (Quality Management System) or ISO 14001 (Environmental Management System) to enhance an organization’s environmental management.  

ISO 50001 aligning energy management with legislation

While ISO 50001 certification is not mandatory, nevertheless, environmental regulators have acknowledged an accredited ISO 50001 certification as an accomplishment for fulfilling energy management system requirements. 

The European Union‘s Energy Efficiency Directive 2012/27/EU, amended in 2018, sets forth measures to achieve energy efficiency goals by 2020 and 2030. The 2012 Directive requires large companies with more than 250 employees and a turnover of more than EUR 50 million and/or a balance sheet total of more than EUR 43 million to conduct an energy audit at least once every four years. Member States should also consider relevant European or International Standards, such as EN ISO 50001 Energy Management System, EN 16247-1 (Energy Audit), or EN ISO 14000 (Environmental Management System), to develop domestic programs for companies subject to a mandatory energy audit. Companies can be exempted from the energy audit if they implement energy or environmental management systems according to the European or International Standards and are certified by a notified body. In Germany, companies can also benefit from a tax refund for implementing an energy management system in compliance with EN ISO 50001.   

In China, under the Measures on the Energy Conservation of Heavy Energy Users of 2018, companies as heavy energy users with annual energy consumption of 10,000 tonnes of standard coal or more or with a yearly energy consumption of between 5,000 and 10,000 tonnes of standard coal and designated by competent national or provincial energy saving authority must establish an energy management system in accordance with the Energy Management System – Requirements with Guidance for Use (GB/T 23331-2020/ISO 50001: 2018). The energy management system must include the specification of energy management duty, development of rules on energy management, phase-out of outdated technology, promotion of energy efficiency, and punishment and reward system.  

In December 2021, Singapore recognized the ISO 50001 certificate as the benchmark for energy management systems under the Energy Conservation (Energy Management Practice) Regulations 2013. The regulation requires an energy user that reaches an energy consumption of 54 terajoules per calendar year in the manufacturing industry or electricity, gas, or water supply industries to build up an energy management system that is certified with ISO 50001 or equivalent with the requirements prescribed under the regulation. Specifically, companies must ensure to: 

  • conduct an annual energy review and a management review of EnMS and take necessary steps to improve EnMS; 
  • review the non-conformity of EnMS, correct the non-conformity, and conduct a second energy review; and 
  • submit the EnMS report to the National Environment Agency and keep the reports for five years in electronic form.  

The annual energy review must include selecting a specific business activity or any equipment, facility, or process and establishing a corresponding energy baseline to assess energy performance. Companies must determine the feasibility of energy efficiency measures and improvement plans.  

An Energy Management System clearly defined steps to sustainability

Its a challenging target to reach carbon neutrality, but it is not unfeasible. Energy management systems and ISO 50001 shed light on clear steps for getting there. An energy audit to examine your energy consumption and review the options to improve energy loss or waste in the production process can provide companies with a blueprint and target for energy management. By promoting a sustainable production process with energy efficiency to reduce the consumption of resources, waste, and energy, you’ll be on your path to a green economy and ready to extend that energy efficiency to more operational aspects. 


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