ISO 50001 benefits for manufacturers

The ISO 50001 standards establishes an energy policy and process to achieve energy management objectives for manufacturers.

By Gas Technology September 30, 2019

The ISO 50001 Energy Management System (EnMS) Standard defines an energy management system as a set of interrelated elements to establish an energy policy and objectives, and process and procedures to achieve those objectives. Many sectors, including manufacturing, commercial buildings, utilities, government facilities and military bases use ISO 50001 to improve operational efficiency, save energy and cut costs.

ISO 50001 was developed in 2011 by experts from around the world who participate in the ISO/TC 301, the group that developed the portfolio of ISO 50001 standards and guidance documents. ISO TC 301 has published 16 standards and has seven more under development. As of 2017, nearly 23,000 sites worldwide achieved ISO 50001 certification. The growth of ISO 50001 is expected to accelerate as an increasing number of companies integrate ISO 50001 into their corporate sustainability strategies and supplier requirements.

ISO 50001 is based on the same management system model used for ISO 9001 and 14001. This compatibility makes it easier for organizations to integrate energy management into their quality and environmental management efforts. However, ISO 50001 adds new data-driven sections related to energy planning, operational control and measuring and monitoring.

ISO 50001:2018, the revised version of the standard, was published on August 21, 2018. The revised version improves clarity in regards to its applicability for businesses and organizations around the world. Certification to ISO 50001 provides proof of performance and credibility both internally and externally. The growth of ISO 50001 is expected to accelerate as more companies integrate ISO 50001 into their corporate sustainability strategies and supplier requirements.

ISO 50001 does require continuous energy performance improvement. However, it does not include prescriptive energy performance improvement goals. Instead, the standard provides a general framework that each organization can set and pursue its own goals for improving energy performance.

The key steps to successful ISO 50001 certification include:

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

Continuous improvement model

The ISO 50001 framework allows for energy-related interests to be prioritized and integrates with smart technologies that provide data and control of energy use through a continuous improvement model.

The model is broken down into four steps: Plan, do, check and act. Each of those steps has additional tasks companies need to emphasize:

Plan. Companies need to understand the requirements involved, get commitments from management, set energy and resiliency goals and structure an energy team that will work on meeting ISO 50001 requirements.

Do. The people involved in the energy team need to know where energy is being used and who is using the most, where the company is most vulnerable and create a list of energy opportunities based on the first three items.

Act. This involves prioritizing energy upgrades, reviewing energy data and conducting internal audits. It also requires the team to meet report requirements.

Check. This final step has the team benchmark energy use, identify the variables impacting energy use, assess energy billing and procurement, ensure proper operations and management (O&M). 

Business reasons to enact ISO 50001

Energy management today is an area of growing interest and concern to companies around the world due to its potential to help control costs, boost energy efficiency, improve environmental quality and enhance a company’s overall competitiveness. Using energy smarter and better can improve a company’s overall bottom line.

The ISO 50001 international energy management system standard offers organizations a proven approach to develop an energy management plan addressing critical aspects of energy performance – including energy use, measurement, documentation, reporting, design and procurement practices, and other variables affecting energy management that can be measured and monitored.

Adoption of ISO 50001 is important to establish a systematic and sustainable approach to managing energy within a facility. Conformance to the standard provides proof that a facility has implemented sustainable energy management systems, completed a baseline of its energy use and committed to continuous improvement in energy performance. The value of certification will be driven by market forces within supply chains, potential utility incentive programs requiring ISO 50001 and the standard’s relation to future carbon mitigation policies.

Jeff Allen, a plant manager for Detroit Diesel, said of implementing ISO 50001: “The money we save on energy can be reinvested back into the plant and ultimately create more jobs for the people here in Detroit.”

Jean Bennington Sweeney, chief sustainability officer for 3M, added: “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.”

According to a DOE analysis, the results from 10 facilities certified to ISO 50001 found:

  • $36,000 to $938,000 in cost savings per year
  • 12% reduction in energy costs (on average) within 15 months of initial implementation
  • Energy performance improvements of 5.6% to 30.6% over three years
  • $430,000 or more in savings each year from low- or no-cost operational improvements.

EnMS benefits

An ISO 50001 EnMS requires skills from two different communities: management system auditors and energy efficiency experts. Management system experts are often not familiar with energy issues and energy efficiency experts are often not familiar with management system processes. This impasse causes unique problems for both sides they need to bridge.

Energy efficiency professionals without the skills to implement a management system risk establishing an ineffective EnMS without a top management-driven continuous improvement process. Management system auditors that don’t have the required skills for assessing an organization’s continuous improvement in energy performance risk certifying organizations without measurable energy performance improvement.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), realizing that effective implementation requires a skill set not readily available in the market, initiated the Institute for Energy Management Professionals (lEnMP) in 2010 to offer professional credentials to meet this market challenge. This program, launched in the early days when ISO 50001 was still being worked on, today offers a range of fully-accredited professional credentials to meet this market need.

The DOE’s initiatives expand to other companies, as well, in their bid to improve energy efficiency. For example, CenterPoint Energy, a domestic delivery energy company based in Houston, Texas, coordinates with the DOE to provide additional resources.

ISO 50001 tools for supporting energy management

There are many tools available to engineers looking to improve their energy efficiency and maximize their potential return on investment (ROI).

50001 Ready Navigator. The 50001 Ready Navigator is an online dashboard that provides guidance to implement and maintain an energy management system in conformance with the principles of ISO 50001. It allows users to submit their facilities for 50001-Ready recognition through the navigator. The free online tools guide users through 25 tasks to set up a comprehensive ISO 50001-based energy management system. The navigator is built on open-source standards and designed for flexibility to allow for re-branding and customization by utilities and other organizations for their specific needs.

Having an EnMS means companies should be more than halfway completed and prepared to provide information in the planning, energy review, continual improvement and system management phases (see photo).

Energy Footprint tool. The energy footprint tool is designed to be easy to use with significant built-in documentation. Detailed labels and pop-up help windows on all sheets allow users quickly to begin using its features. The tool can help manufacturing, commercial and institutional facilities track their energy consumption, factors related to energy use and significant energy end-use. While the tool can be used by anyone interested in tracking their energy footprint, it has specifically been developed to support manufacturing, commercial and institutional facilities implementing energy management plans through the DOE’s 50001 Ready Program or implementing energy management through the DOE’s Superior Energy Performance Program (SEP).

Energy Performance Indicator (EnPi Lite). EnPI Lite is a companion calculator to the 50001 Ready Navigator. It is designed to enable regression-based energy performance modeling for facilities. EnPI Lite is web-based and maintained by the DOE. It also accepts energy performance improvement data from other available tools and can be adjusted to work with utility program energy performance improvement calculators.

Register of Implemented Energy Performance Improvement. The register assists with implementing an EnMS. Energy savings over the period are reflected; typically, this will be annual savings. The register is designed to summarize key details including:

  • Action description
  • Actual energy savings
  • Source of energy savings
  • The party responsible for energy savings.

MEASUR. Manufacturing energy assessment software for utility reduction (MEASUR) is an integrated tool suite designed to aid manufacturers in improving the efficiency of energy systems and equipment within a plant. MEASUR will ultimately contain capabilities to analyze most major support systems found within manufacturing facilities, including process heat, steam and compressed air. This effort, expected to be completed in 2019, provides for an extensively more user-friendly, modern and versatile set of tools. There is interoperability between the individual tools, and the entire suite is accessible in an open-source environment. Several calculators are built into the tool that allows users to independently calculate system parameter estimations and graphical analysis (e.g., converting energy requirements for different heat sources).

There also are education and training programs that can be performed online or on-site and they are available on the DOE’s Better Buildings website. The classes can be tailored toward a specific need and does not need to be broadly developed.

Companies like CenterPoint also are providing education on these tools. Earlier in 2019, CenterPoint joined training hosted by a local customer, 3M, in St. Paul, Minn., which had brought in two 50001 CP EnMS Qualified instructors to train 3M staff from around the country on how to prepare for DOE’s 50001 Ready recognition program through use of its 50001 Ready Navigator tool.

“CenterPoint Energy is evaluating adding an ISO 50001 component to our upcoming 2020-2022 Conservation Improvement Program,” said Todd Berreman, director, energy efficiency, CenterPoint Energy.

Energy efficiency for plants

Energy management software tools help manufacturers increase energy efficiency at the plant-level and in specific systems. The tools also can help utilities find ways to improve their energy output and find new ways to better maximize their returns. It is a process and will not be done overnight. However, the tools are readily available for companies looking to achieve their certification.