ISO 50001 is needed and worth the ROI


In the 2012 edition of Energy Efficient Solutions, we asked “Is the new energy management standard actually needed?” In that article the case for the fledgling ISO 50001 was made using examples from Costa and Royal Mint. So two years later, where are we now and what has changed, asks NQA environment and energy sector manager Martin Hockaday.

Since ISO 50001 was published in 2011, it has gone from being the new-kid-on-the-block of ISO management standards to an essential management tool with the potential to deliver return on investment and legal compliance.

According to the annual ISO Survey, certification to ISO 50001 grew by 332% between 2011 and 2012, with absolute growth achieving more than 1,500 accredited certifications. Significant new growth is expected to be reported in the 2013 ISO Survey due in autumn 2014. In its first year, the rate of adoption of ISO 50001 exceeded that of ISO 14001 and is rivalling the uptake of ISO 9001 in the mid 1990s. If this continues, ISO 50001 will be one of the most widely adopted management systems standards within a few years.


Fuelling growth

The cost of energy for heat, light and power is itself a major driver of energy management systems (EnMS) implementation. The price of gas and power is unpredictable due to geopolitical influences on the markets, so it is ever more critical to manage consumption effectively and efficiently – whether that be through technology, behavioural change or management systems.

In addition to cost drivers, the government introduced the Energy Act and now the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) to meet the requirements of the European Union; more specifically Article 8 of the European Union Energy Efficiency Directive. This is an EU initiative to accelerate the drive towards greater energy efficiency and reduced carbon emissions from businesses. The Department of Energy and Climate Change will issue a summary guide to ESOS in late June 2014.

Energy management in the private sector is a major factor in helping the government to achieve its carbon emissions reduction targets of 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050, compared with 1990 levels. ESOS is the latest in a range of initiatives designed to reduce energy usage. The conservative estimate is that audits will lead to an average 0.7% energy saving per enterprise and ESOS is expected to provide a net positive benefit to the UK of between £800m and £3bn.

For the 7,300 organisations that the UK government estimates will now have to carry out mandatory energy audits, ESOS could be an expensive and time consuming initiative. One of the best solutions is to implement an energy management system certified to ISO 50001; this not only assists with legal compliance but it can deliver return on investment and continual improvement.

Return on investment

Implementing an ISO 50001-based EnMS can be a significant investment in time, budget and resource. Naturally, payback is a key consideration and fairly straightforward with the implementation of a technical solution, such as LED lighting or solar pv installation. But with a management systems approach the payback can be harder to attribute, particularly where cultural change is concerned.

Coffee chain Costa implemented ISO 50001, which helped it save 16% of its overall energy consumption (32% reduction per tonne of coffee roasted). This allowed it to increase production without the need to invest in a new roasting facility. It has also used the certification to influence cultural change and reinforce the message of energy efficiency.

Ben Brakes, environment manager at the Whitbread Group, which owns Costa, confirms: “It gives you something over and above the usual ‘switch it off’ campaigns and allowed us to really engage people with simple housekeeping issues like switching off lights and closing windows.”

Train operator Northern Rail is another NQA client that has embraced ISO 50001 as a tool to help it make significant energy savings. Certification to the standard necessitates measurement, documentation and reporting, equipment design and procurement processes.

So far, excluding everything directly related to the trains, the move has enabled the company to shave 9% off its energy consumption per passenger mile. On the train side the company has saved 0.5% of energy consumption. Northern Rail will use this demonstration of its commitment to reducing operational costs to help its case in the next round of franchise bidding.

In Royal Mint’s case, it has achieved 6% reduction of its £3.7m energy bill in the first year of ISO 50001 certification. This equates to a substantial saving of £222k. Martyn Grant, environmental manager, comments about some of the less tangible results: “It’s really about engagement – how individuals at every level are committed to improving our energy management.”

Elsewhere, ISO has reported that business around the world have achieved significant savings in terms of energy consumption, carbon reduction and operating costs. A wide range of organisations from manufacturing, construction, education, transport and utilities are achieving energy efficiencies with ISO 50001 certification.

Accredited certification

ISO 50001 provides an excellent framework for managing energy and it is scalable to any organisation because it is based on the Plan-Do-Check-Act model of continual improvement. This is similar to standards such as ISO 14001, but focuses specifically on the energy planning and performance.

Taking the step to achieve certification naturally follows implementation. It helps to identify opportunities for improvement, supports corporate responsibility reporting to stakeholders and gives the impetus for continual improvement of the EnMS.

The importance of accredited certification cannot be overstated and is endorsed by both the Federation of Small Business and the CBI. It ensures that the certification process has real integrity and can be trusted in the market place. Following a rigorous pilot program, NQA was the first certification body to be accredited to assess ISO 50001 by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).

Debate over

Two years on and the debate as to the need for the energy management standard ISO 50001 is now irrelevant. We know that energy is a significant operating cost that is likely to rise; we know that governments are implementing more legislation to achieve stretching carbon reduction targets; we also know that ISO 50001 can deliver return on investment.

It’s time to get started with ISO 50001; it is a proven way to manage and drive improvements from a technical and human perspective and the potential to comply with ESOS is a major advantage for UK businesses.  


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