Four steps to effective energy management with ISO 50001


Martin Hockaday, environment and energy sector manager at NQA, reviews the Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle of ISO 50001 and how it improves energy management.

The launch of the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) has positively raised the profile of ISO 50001, the internationally recognised energy management systems standard.

While ISO 50001 has been acknowledged as an acceptable means of exemption from the regular assessment requirements of ESOS, its potential to add value and provide structure should not be overlooked.

More than a tick in the ESOS box, the standard is scalable to any organisation because it is based on the principle of continual improvement and built on the classic four-step cycle made famous by Deming: Plan, Do, Check, Act. This simplified framework helps to cut through the complexities and provides a rational methodology for energy management.

The first step of “Planning”is reviewed in this brief overview of ISO 50001. We will return to “Do”, “Check” and “Act” in future issues.

Energy planning process

When it comes to improving energy efficiency, there are many variables, solutions and implementation challenges – from technology to software to cultural change. The question of where to begin starts with a plan and ISO 50001provides an energy planning process. This naturally addresses inputs and outputs.

Inputs can be hard and soft and the standard requires all activities affecting energy performance to be considered and that the energy planning process is documented. This wide scope ensures that a holistic approach is taken with the view to achieving long term improvements. Quick wins such as installation of energy efficient technologies are accounted for, but so are the less tangible elements of individual behaviour and culture change.

Some organisations, including Costa, have used ISO 50001 certification as a tool to communicate the importance of energy management and influence behavioural change with positive reinforcement. It is seen as an integral measure of success and an accolade that all staff contributed to.


Inputs including past and present energy uses must include hard data, which can be benchmarked and repeatedly measured to determine performance improvement. All these inputs contribute to the energy review element of the energy planning process.


The energy review process should provide clarity and guidance on what to prioritise and how to implement change. The key outputs must include an energy baseline, which is the critical reference point for performance improvement.

Appropriate performance indicators should be established and these can be as complex or simple as required – guidelines for these include energy consumption per time or per unit of production. These are flexible to the unique challenges of the organisation.

Overall energy performance goals and action plans for implementation are also set as a key outcome of the energy review. These lead us directly into the second step of “Do”, which addresses implementation and operation of the energy management system.

In the next issue of we&e, we’ll review the “Do” step of the Deming cycle, focusing on the practicalities of implementing and operating the energy management system. If you can’t wait until then, you can get more information from our support team at or



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