ISO 50001: a platform for energy savings

Carlo Gavazzi UK, ISO 50001, building management systems, controls
Continual improvement — Alan Hickman.

The ISO 50001 energy management standard faces its first revision six years on from its introduction. Alan Hickman of Carlo Gavazzi UK, looks at the benefits of ISO 50001 and outlines how an energy-management system can be put in place.

Firms often want to reduce energy consumption but lack a structure to do so effectively across their organisation. This is why an energy management system such as ISO 50001 is invaluable. The international standard supports businesses in all sectors to use energy more efficiently, helping them to save money, conserve resources and tackle climate change.

It is six years since ISO 50001 was first introduced, and the standard faces its first revision. So it’s a useful point to consider the benefits of the approach. The standard is based on the management system model of continual improvement also used for other well-known standards such as ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. This makes it easier for organisations to integrate energy management into their overall efforts to improve quality and environmental management.

ISO 50001 provides a framework for organisations to achieve the following.

• Develop a policy for more efficient use of energy.

• Fix targets and objectives to meet the policy.

• Use data to better understand and make decisions about energy use.

• Measure the results.

• Review how well the policy works.

• Continually improve energy management.

The benefits of such a strategy for energy monitoring and management are clear. A programme led by the US Department of Energy, for example, demonstrated that ISO 50001 not only increased energy savings but that facilities using the standard outperformed those that didn’t by up to 65%.

In the UK, certification body BSI argues that the advantages include the following.

Compliance: improved levels of compliance to energy legislation, reduced likelihood of fines and prosecutions and lower insurance premiums

Cost: money is saved through better energy management, less waste and more efficiency.

Carlo Gavazzi UK, ISO 50001, building management systems, controls

Perception: increased likelihood of repeat business, access to new markets.

Reputation: improved reputation and stakeholder satisfaction, increased access to new customers and business partners.

Risk management: improved business and energy planning, potential re-investment of savings into other areas of the business.

According to ISO, the first five years of ISO 50001 consistently delivered savings of between 5% and 30% of energy costs. The organisation is not resting on its laurels, and the standard is currently up for revision. Expect an emphasis on keeping the standard user-friendly and simple to implement, with a focus on closer integration with ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. Organisations desire common tools, terms and processes across the various management systems.

According to the Building Research Establishment, controls are the easiest and most cost-effective solution for saving energy in buildings. Lighting controls are a good example. The Carbon Trust states that up to 40% of a building's electricity use is accounted for by lighting. Occupancy sensors can reduce electricity use by 30%, says the Carbon Trust, and daylight sensors or photocells by up to 40%.

More advanced controls covering heating, ventilation and air conditioning can further reduce consumption. Despite the benefits, clients and building occupiers have failed to exploit advanced control solutions, says the BRE, because many of the innovative technologies they employ are perceived to be overly technical and complex to operate. This, when coupled with a lack of information on the subject, has resulted in a poor uptake of controls and a failure to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of buildings.

Simple 2-wire bus solutions such as Carlo Gavazzi’s Dupline system offer a cost-effective means of improving the poor take-up identified by the BRE, reducing energy consumption and improving occupant comfort. 2-wire bus technology significantly simplifies the field level wiring, eliminates expensive wiring home runs and saves money on wiring and installation costs when compared with traditional solutions.

Any controls strategy needs to be backed up by data gathered from an effective monitoring system to transform the way a building is run. Re-commissioning and optimisation of a building management system (BMS) to reflect a building’s current and actual usage can reduce a building’s CO2 emissions by up to 20%. Metering data will provide visibility of excessive consumption and identify opportunities for savings through simple BMS strategy adjustments.

Metering should be designed to facilitate performance benchmarking as detailed in CIBSE’s TM46 and Guide F. To do that, data needs to be exported to a user-friendly interface where graphical displays are engaging, educational and meaningful.

Data can be interrogated by the user to identify baseline consumption and benchmark against similar building types, to identify BMS strategy errors, plant operation conflicts, automate reporting and, importantly, assess return on investment of CAPEX projects such as plant replacement and lighting upgrades. It is imperative that users act on the data and develop a system of continuous improvement.

Buildings already represent 50% of global electricity consumption and, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), that figure is going to jump by 80% due to rapid urbanisation over the next 25 years. The IEA argues that there is massive potential for improved energy efficiency in buildings. It says that up to 82% of energy-efficiency measures remain untapped in buildings today. ISO 50001 procedures, when coupled with controls and metering, unlock that potential and provide a powerful management tool that will reduce operating costs and CO2 emissions to deliver greener buildings.

Alan Hickman is managing director of Carlo Gavazzi UK.

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