ISO Management System Standard for Energy

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the world's largest developer and publisher of international standards, has identified energy management as a priority due to the significant potential to save energy and reduce greenhouse (GHG) emissions worldwide.

The ISO 50001 energy management standard is an international framework for industrial plants or entire companies to manage energy, including all aspects of procurement and use. The standard will provide organizations and companies with technical and management strategies to increase energy efficiency, reduce costs, and improve environmental performance.

Conformance with the energy management standard will demonstrate that the plant or company implemented sustainable energy management systems, completed a baseline of energy use, and committed to continuously improve their energy intensity. The standard, which will be compatible with the widely used ISO 9001 (quality management) and ISO 14001 (environmental management), will also accomplish the following:

  • Assist organizations in optimizing their existing energy-consuming assets
  • Offer guidance on benchmarking, measuring, documenting, and reporting energy intensity improvements and their projected impact on reducing GHG emissions
  • Create transparency and facilitate communication on the management of energy resources
  • Promote energy management best practices and reinforce good energy management behaviors
  • Assist facilities in evaluating and prioritizing the implementation of new energy-efficient technologies
  • Provide a framework for promoting energy efficiency throughout the supply chain
  • Facilitate energy management improvements in the context of GHG emission reduction projects.

Based on broad applicability across national economic sectors, the standard could influence up to 60 percent of the world's energy demand.1 Corporations, supply chain partnerships, utilities, energy service companies, and others are expected to use ISO 50001 as a tool to reduce energy intensity and carbon emissions in their own facilities (as well as those belonging to their customers or suppliers) and to benchmark their achievements.

Developing the Standard
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) was one of the earliest entities to recognize industry's need to mount an effective response to climate change and to the proliferation of national energy management standards. In March 2007, UNIDO hosted a meeting of experts, including representatives from the ISO Central Secretariat and nations that have adopted energy management standards. That meeting led to submission of a formal request to the ISO Central Secretariat to consider undertaking work on an international energy management standard.

In February 2008, the Technical Management Board of ISO approved the establishment of a new project committee (PC 242 – Energy Management) to develop the new ISO Management System Standard for Energy. The project committee consists of 37 participating nations and 9 observing nations. Mr. Edwin Piñero serves as International Chair for this committee. The Associação Brasileira de Normas Técnicas (ABNT) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) jointly serve as the Secretariat. The first ISO/PC 242 committee convened in Washington, DC in September 2008 and again in Brazil in March 2009. The U.S. Council for Energy-Efficient Manufacturing and the U.S. Department of Energy are supporting ANSI's role in developing the standard.

As part of the standard development process, the ISO/PC 242 committee will define relevant terms, provide management system requirements, and develop guidance for use, implementation, measurement, and metrics. To provide compatibility and integration opportunities, the standard will foster continual improvement and use the Plan-Do-Check-Act approach employed in ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.

Prior to the September 2008 meeting, UNIDO and the Standardization Administration of China (SAC) jointly hosted an international meeting in Beijing on April 9-11, 2008. This meeting brought together 58 participants representing energy management organizations, standards-making authorities, and experts in industrial energy efficiency and energy management from 14 countries, including the leadership organizations for PC 242, plus UNIDO and the ISO Secretariat. A remarkable degree of consensus was reached on the following issues:

  • Large potential impact of an ISO MSE on global energy efficiency and reductions in GHG emissions
  • Need for developing countries and emerging economies to participate in development of the ISO MSE
  • Need for compatibility with ISO 9000 and ISO 14000
  • Need for standard to be relevant to all sizes of enterprises
  • Urgency of need to complete the standard as quickly as possible
  • A draft framework for discussion at the first PC 242 meeting in September, 2008.

These results are summarized in A Framework for Action. UNIDO is also conducting regional surveys to explore potential benefits and barriers, infrastructure deficiencies, and other issues pertaining to use of the standard in developing countries and emerging economies.

1  U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Outlook 2007, industrial and commercial world energy use