Navigating the New Global Energy Management Standard

Navigating the New Global Energy Management Standard

The International Standards Organization publishes a new guideline this year, establishing a framework for energy management systems for buildings, industrial plants, commercial facilities and utilities. Though the new standard is voluntary, it could influence as much as 60 percent of the world's energy use.

How could the new standard, ISO 50001, affect your business? How is it different from earlier ISO environmental standards? And what opportunities and implications does it hold for companies? GreenBiz.com gathered a panel of energy and sustainability executives for a webinar on the subject. "ISO 50001: Preparing for the New Energy Management Standard," this week.

Energy management is at the core of efforts to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts of business. And increasingly, the business world is recognizing that such efforts not only drive down costs and reduce risks, but also add value to companies and their brands.

The distinguishing factors of the new ISO standard include its reach and range, said panelists Bill Allemon, vice president of Energy Management Services at ARCADIS U.S., Don Macdonald, director of Sustainability Business Development of UL DQS Inc., and Kelly Smith, Global Energy and Sustainability program manager for Johnson Controls Inc., in the discussion moderated by GreenBiz Executive Editor Joel Makower.

ISO 50001 can be implemented as a stand-alone energy management system or integrated with the application existing corporate standards, including ISO 9001, which speaks to whether companies have met accepted quality and regulatory requirements in their delivery of goods and services to customers, and ISO 14001, which addresses companies' efforts to minimize harmful effects of business activities on the environment.

In addition, said Allemon of ARCADIS, "this is not something that is sector-specific." The standard, currently viewable in draft form, also provides the basis for a range of efforts by companies. "At minimum, Allemon said, "the standard gives you the tools and basics, and if you want to, you can go all the way to certification."

Smith of Johnson Controls noted that the standard can be applied to a single facility or building within a company and be used across an organization.

More importantly, ISO 50001 provides a framework for a systematic comprehensive approach to continuous improvement through energy performance management, Macdonald said, adding that those attributes -- a systematic comprehensive approach, continuous improvement and an emphasis on performance management -- are essential for development of sustainable organizations, Macdonald said.

"Energy is a corporation's 'currency,' " said Macdonald, pointing to a failure to value energy as organizational currency as a key barrier to improving energy management. Other barriers he cited include:

  • An absence of continuous monitoring, metrics and performance management.
  • Considering first costs more important than recurring costs.
  • A disconnect between capital and operating budgets.
  • An immature sustainability culture.
  • A shareholder focus on production rather than efficient use of energy and other resources.
  • A failure to embed deep process quality management systems in an organization.


The panelists' presentations and their discussion are available in the webinar "ISO 50001: Preparing for the New Energy Management Standard," which has been archived and can be downloaded free with registration.

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