Energy management should start at the top

BEMS, BMS, controls, energy management, CIBSE
Saving lots of energy and money — Andrew Geens

Effective energy management guided from the top of an organisation is the key to saving energy and money. Andy Geens of CIBSE explains how an international standard can help.

ISO 50001* is a new, voluntary international standard that sets out the latest best practice in energy management. It establishes a framework for buildings, transport operations and industrial plants to improve the way they manage energy. Better energy performance can deliver rapid benefits to an organisation by improving the use of its energy resources and energy-related assets and reducing energy costs and consumption. In the UK, the liability for carbon-related taxes is also reduced.

Organisations using ISO 50001 will be able to understand baseline energy use and develop action plans, energy targets and energy-performance indicators. The management system will also help to identify, prioritise, and record opportunities for improving energy performance across the organisation. It uses the ubiquitous Plan, Do, Check, Act process of continual improvement, which is common to all modern management systems standards.

BS EN ISO 50001:2011 is a ‘one-size-fits-all’ standard, which can be used by all kinds of businesses and organisations. This may lead to situations where some interpretation and pragmatism is needed to ensure that the energy-management system is implemented and meets all requirements. The standard does not specify how to manage energy, nor does it specify criteria for judging performance; this is down to the organisation implementing the system.

Here is a brief summary of BS EN ISO 50001 using the Plan, Do, Check, Act process.


• Think about those parts of your business which could be improved by better energy use, and define the scope and boundary of your energy-management system.

• Write an energy policy to demonstrate top management commitment to that system. Top-level management commitment is vital to success.

• Appoint someone to be the focal point and ensure they understand their role and have the authority to perform the duties of that role.

• Assign the necessary resources to establish the system.

• Determine any legal requirements that may apply to your organisation, and also any other requirements that you subscribe to — such as trade-body schemes or voluntary agreements.

• Perform an energy review for the scope and boundary of the system that you have set to determine energy sources and uses, determine energy baselines and identify energy performance indicators.

• Determine what is done within the boundaries of the system and the impact on energy use.

• Identify improvement opportunities and make plans to prioritise and achieve those improvements. For example, set objectives, targets and implement improvement plans.

The management system suggested by ISO 500001 will help identify, prioritise and record opportunities for improving energy performance across an organisation.


• Use the information from the planning phase to implement the system.

• Ensure all those with an influence on energy performance are trained or made aware of their impact (or both!) Don’t forget to tell suppliers, contractors and other visitors about your plans and any impact that they may have on those organisations.

• Prepare the system documentation and controls (see clause 4.5.4 of BS EN ISO 50001:2001).

• Ensure activities such as maintenance related to significant energy uses are in place and that there are defined operating criteria. For example, set control parameters and ensure they are adhered to.

• Review all processes and energy-using systems, and purchase services, equipment and energy supplies to help ensure best energy performance for your budget. 


• Check energy use for activities within the scope and boundary of the system are as expected.

• Make sure any measuring equipment is accurate and suitable.

• Take action to correct any serious variation from expected energy use. Determine the cause of any variation before taking action.

• Are you complying with any applicable legislation identified in the planning stages, and how do you know? Record what was identified and how compliance was checked.

• Perform internal audits of your system to ensure that all systems are working as you planned them to. Record any that are not and take action to correct deviation. Determine why there was a deviation and take action to prevent recurrence.

• Control and protect records generated by your system. Without records you cannot demonstrate that your system is working as expected.


• Review the system regularly with top management, and do this more frequently in the early stages. Ensure reviews are never less frequent than every 12 months.

Plan, Do, Check and Act is a simple easy-to-understand but effective approach to implement — and it might just save you a lot of energy and money.

ISO 50001 is being taken up by many organisations in over 30 countries, including some very large well known corporate brands in the beverage, automotive and transport sectors. It has also been adopted by University College Cork across its estate. Several organisations have reported that since achieving certification to ISO 50001 they have achieved cost savings and improved energy performance.

BS EN ISO 50001:2011 is likely to become more popular, either as a standalone management system or as a complementary system to environmental management systems under ISO 14000. This is an area that is likely to become more significant in the UK market in the months ahead.

Andrew Geens is head of certification at the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers.

* ISO 50001:2011 ‘Energy management systems — requirements with guidance for use’. It replaces BS EN 16001:2009, which was withdrawn in April 2012, and from which the ISO was developed.

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