Definition

ISO 50001 (International Organization for Standardization 50001)

Contributor(s): Stephen J. Bigelow

ISO 50001 (International Organization for Standardization 50001) is a voluntary standard for designing, implementing and maintaining an energy management system. ISO 50001 was developed by an ISO technical committee and published in 2011.

ISO 50001, which uses a vendor- and technology-agnostic approach to enterprise energy management, was developed in response to a request from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. The standard is intended to help organizations develop and implement an energy management system.

According the ISO website, an energy management system is a framework for implementing technical and management strategies that will significantly cut energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions over time. System components include the creation of an energy policy, objectives for improving the efficient use of energy, a timeline with target dates for meeting objectives and an action plan that specifies exactly how the organization’s objectives will be met.

ISO 50001 uses the Plan, Do, Check, Act framework, which is also supported by the US Department of Energy. During the planning phase, the organization sets objectives and targets, using current energy efficiency measurements to establish a baseline. During the do phase, the organization implements actions to improve energy efficiency. During the check phase, the organization measures and evaluates their energy performance and compares the results to their baseline. During the act phase, the organization decides what changes need to be made next to improve energy performance. The cycle then continuously repeats with a new planning phase.

With continuous improvement, ISO 50001 will help an organization make better use of their existing energy-consuming assets, create transparency and improve communication about energy consumption, promote energy management best practices and help prioritize the implementation of energy-efficient technology.

The ISO does not issue certifications for ISO 50001 compliance but certifications can be granted by an accredited third-party agency. It is recommended that organization interested in acquiring ISO 50001 certification contact and interview several accredited agencies before committing to one. A list of accredited evaluators is available on the ISO website. Certification is valid for three years.

This was last updated in June 2015

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