Empowered to cut wasted energy

The Department of Energy (DOE) program is designed to find and eliminate energy waste and offers many resources to help organizations achieve their goals.

By Kitt Butler, Advanced Energy; Jay Wrobel, Pete Langlois, Department of Energy June 19, 2017

Industrial and commercial facilities are big energy consumers, but they are also big energy wasters. According to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the industrial and commercial sectors used approximately 33.5 quads of energy in 2016. (One quad is equal to 1 quadrillion British thermal units.) Of those 33.5 quads, nearly half-15.7 quads-were wasted due to inefficient energy systems or end use. The loss is more than $340 billion dollars, including $247 billion in the industrial sector.

One way to seek continual and sustained energy performance improvement is through implementing a formal energy management system (EnMS). An EnMS incorporates energy management into an organization’s day-to-day culture and routine, using a framework of procedures and practices that enables better monitoring, managing, and improvement of energy use. Critically, an EnMS can help ensure these improvements are maintained.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including expanding support from the DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, offer many resources to help more organizations do just that.

Establishing a practice of managing energy comprehensively allows plants and facilities to be more competitive and functional, saves money, and supports organizations in meeting sustainability or energy-related goals. An established energy culture helps produce big dividends by enabling companies to use their energy more efficiently and reduce losses and waste.

Through its 50001 Ready program formed around the ISO 50001 energy management standard, the DOE is enhancing its ongoing support for EnMS adoption and allowing more facilities to realize and be recognized for their long-term energy improvements.

ISO 50001

ISO 50001 was first developed in 2011 by the International Organization for Standardization, based on the successful ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standards, to help organizations establish and maintain an EnMS. Implementing an ISO 50001 EnMS prepares organizations to continually improve their energy performance through holistic and systematic energy management that promotes best practices and behaviors.

"ISO 50001 adoption is proven to produce long-term, persistent energy savings through the establishment of a ‘culture’ of managing energy," said Pete Langlois, energy efficiency and sustainability manager for the DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office.

Starting with determining the scope and boundaries of the EnMS, the ISO 50001 standard outlines requirements that the management system covers. Broadly, these requirements include establishing an energy policy and objectives, supporting a responsible energy team with executive commitment and developing plans to achieve identified energy opportunities.

The primary steps identified in ISO 50001 include:

  • Set an energy policy.
  • Have management commitment.
  • Empower an energy team.
  • Identify where energy is used.
  • Create plans to improve energy use.
  • Have management approve plans.
  • Track progress and reassess energy action plans.

Although pursuing ISO 50001 requires staffing and organizational change, any organization regardless of size or geographical location can implement the standard and capture savings. The DOE estimates more than 12,000 facilities are currently ISO 50001-certified, and ISO estimates that the standard has the potential to affect 60% of the energy used throughout the world.

Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA)

ISO 50001 relies on the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle of continual improvement.

Plan helps ensure that the appropriate steps are in place to meet a facility’s energy policy. This stage is based around conducting an energy review and establishing a baseline, energy performance indicators, objectives, targets, and action plans.

Do focuses on implementing the energy management action plans through training, documentation, operational control, and more. After progressing through the action plans and collecting the relevant data

Check involves analyzing, measuring and monitoring performance and processes in light of the energy objectives and policy.

Act ensures that energy projects are continually considered as a course of business and that energy performance remains an executive level priority.

As the demand for ISO 50001 in the U.S. industrial and commercial sectors increased, the DOE with support of the U.S. Council for Energy-Efficient Manufacturing (U.S. CEEM), created the Superior Energy Performance (SEP) recognition program. The SEP program adds a third-party process to verify the actual energy performance improvements from ISO 50001 certification.

Through SEP, the DOE provides recognition of ISO 50001-derived energy improvement. While the EPA has developed energy management guidelines that contain most of the elements of ISO 50001, there has been no DOE recognition available for those facilities not interested in pursuing ISO 50001 certification. To fill this gap, the DOE has developed 50001 Ready to provide recognition, along with supporting tools and resources, freely available to a wider pool of organizations interested in implementing an EnMS based on the ISO 50001 structure, whether they want to ultimately become certified or not.

Getting 50001 Ready

After receiving feedback from facilities certified in the SEP program, the DOE began developing resources for facilities to have a ‘do it yourself’ method for instituting an EnMS, called the 50001 Ready program. The program emphasis is on broader ISO 50001 process adoption and energy improvement to encourage more facilities to pursue the ISO standard and realize energy savings.

Facilities can be part of the 50001 Ready program by using the recently released 50001 Ready Navigator online tool. This implementation management resource is free and can be adopted by facilities and organizations as they aim to increase energy savings. It helps align the best practice guidelines outlined by ISO 50001 and allows facilities to self-direct and self-attest to their implementation progress by providing worksheets, templates, and team management resources. The 50001 Ready Navigator tool also is structured as an open system so that utilities, trade associations, and others can rebrand and use it as they see fit. It is an extremely flexible resource that is ready for wide adoption.

The 50001 Ready Navigator tool lines up directly with the EnMS requirements of ISO 50001. It includes 25 tasks that facilities must complete, divided into four sections:

  • Planning
  • Energy Review
  • Continual Improvement
  • System Management.

The tasks range from setting the scope and boundaries of an EnMS to determining significant energy uses and progressing through management review. When all tasks are complete, the organization can send a request, if desired, to the DOE for recognition of its 50001 Ready EnMS. The DOE will add the organization to a list of all 50001 Ready facilities, with the option to have this status publicly available on the program’s website. Although 50001 Ready is built around the ISO 50001 standard, having a 50001 Ready-EnMS does not signify ISO 50001 or SEP certification. These require additional steps, including audits and third-party verification.

The value of ISO 50001

DOE-measured results of facilities achieving SEP certification—for which ISO 50001 is required—demonstrate that facilities can attain up to 30% improvement in energy performance over three years with paybacks under 2.5 years (with many facilities reporting less than a 1-year payback).

The long-term energy and cost savings produced through such a holistic framework are greater and more consistent than those associated with a project-by-project energy improvement system. Many of the savings are generated through no- and low-cost operational and procedural changes. The broader result is a comprehensive, standardized, systematic, and rigorous way to achieve verified energy savings and sustain growth for the future.

"ISO 50001 allows business leaders to establish a practice around the use of energy that reduces business risk and improves productivity and operations," said Jay Wrobel, technical assistance manager, for the DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office.

The benefits go beyond solely energy and cost savings, though. Investing in this type of EnMS promotes energy efficiency throughout an organization. It leads to increased employee awareness and stewardship and a stronger understanding of energy use and consumption. Organizations are better able to identify and integrate future projects into their new framework, fostering continual improvement.

Pursuing ISO 50001 and SEP certification can be a robust process. The SEP certification process is detailed and thorough, so a commitment must be made top-down. At a general level, SEP certification requires three main steps:

  1. Implementing an ISO 50001 EnMS
  2. Getting ISO 50001 certified by an SEP-qualified lead auditor
  3. Receiving a certified audit from an SEP verification body showing continued improvement in energy performance.

The SEP (and ISO 50001) certification is a three-year certification with recertification audits to evaluate whether SEP requirements are still being met.

Many organizations have realized the extensive benefits associated with ISO 50001 and SEP. Currently, 43 industrial and commercial facilities of all sizes in 19 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. are SEP-certified, and thousands worldwide have an EnMS that more generally meets ISO 50001 requirements.

3M Company, for example, saves $3.6 million by having six locations certified to ISO 50001. "The proven performance of our ISO 50001-certified facilities has led 3M to include ISO 50001 and Superior Energy Performance among our strategies to meet our next set of corporate energy efficiency goals," said Jean Bennington Sweeney, 3M chief sustainability officer.

Schneider Electric has at least 21 certified sites. "The ISO 50001 framework not only builds upon our energy management systems, but also help us drive consistency and performance improvements across our locations," said Steve Sacco, Schneider Electric, vice president, Safety, Environment & Real Estate. Another example is North Carolina-based Cummins, which achieved greater than 12% reduction in energy consumption and savings of $700,000 per year with a simple payback of 11 months.

Many utilities also support strategic energy management as an energy efficiency program and offer incentives for performance. However, increasing program participation continues to be a primary goal. Utilities are beginning to use the DOE cohort model to add customers, with utility efficiency and customer engagement resources to support coaching.

Getting started with 50001 Ready

Establishing an EnMS requires effort and resources. Accessing DOE’s new 50001 Ready Navigator tool and becoming 50001 Ready is a great way to get started for a company of any size. Many helpful resources are available, and experienced consultants with DOE-developed materials and certifications make great partners for achieving savings.

Just as pursuing ISO 50001/SEP requires a commitment of time, effort and resources, so too does being qualified to assist with certification. A number of specialized credentials are needed to walk facilities through the steps. The Institute for Energy Management Professionals maintains databases of current professionals with these credentials.


Certified Practitioner in Energy Management Systems-Industrial

  • ISO 50001 system development for industrial and commercial sites.
  • Coaching and consulting on ISO 50001 implementation.

Superior Energy Performance-Performance Verifier-Industrial

  • Capable of serving on an ISO/SEP third-party audit team.
  • Certifies the energy savings linear regression model that is developed to SEP standards
  • Recommends certification to the SEP lead auditor.

ISO 50001 Lead Auditor

  • Certified to lead ISO 50001 certification audit and potential to also support SEP.

SEP Trainer

  • Referenced and endorsed by the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy
  • Able to lead ISO/SEP training events for industrial and commercial sites
  • Capable of forming and leading cohorts with access to all DOE ISO/SEP presentations and instructional materials.

Overall, systematic energy management allows an organization to develop a sustainable culture of energy performance improvement and energy efficiency. It is an excellent way for commercial and industrial facilities to elevate their energy management practices, reduce their environmental impact, and increase competitiveness.With the announcement of the 50001 Ready program, the DOE is expanding its support to help more facilities realize the savings and benefits from an energy management system.

Kitt Butler is senior program manager at Advanced Energy. Jay Wrobel is the manager of technical assistance and Pete Langlois is a program manager, both with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office in Washington D.C.